THE EASTERN SUBURBS.
This division includes great part of the population of Newcastle, and consists of
Sandgate, Sandgate New-road, North Shore, Ballast Hills, Low Glass-houses, Ouseburn, &c.
Sandgate has evidently had its name from its situation on the sand by the river's
side. In Speed's Plan of Newcastle, dated 1610, no buildings occur on the scite of
this street; yet there are deeds of property in Sandgate as early as the years 1485
and 1487. Grey says that the suburbs of Sandgate escaped the fury of the civil
wars, except some houses near the walls of the town. However, we find in Rushworth, that in January, 1644, the Marquis of Newcastle, "for the better guard of the
town" against the Scots, "set the Sandgate, a street without the walls, on fire, which
continued burning all Sunday and Monday."
Sandgate is a very narrow and crowded street, though recently much improved by
new erections, and the opening of numerous shops for the sale of the most necessary
articles of life. It is more crowded with inhabitants than any other part, either
within or without the walls of Newcastle, containing many thousand inhabitants.
They are mostly those who are employed in the keels or lighters, or in ships engaged
in the coal-trade, and are undoubtedly as hardy and laborious a class of men as any
in his majesty's dominions. This street has justly been styled the Wapping of Newcastle, which it resembles in the great number of ale-houses, the whim and extravagance of the seamen who visit them, and the volubility of tongue for which the
women are distinguished. A number of lanes run from the street on the south down
to the river, and on the north, by a very steep ascent, up to Sandgate New-road. (fn. 1)
These lanes are in general dark, narrow, ill paved, and noisome; and if the people
who inhabit them preserve their health, they owe it more to the strength of their
constitution, the nature of their employment, or the regularity of their living, than
to the healthiness of their dwellings.
On entering Sandgate from the Quayside, (fn. 2) there is a large area on the left, called
the Milk Market, where great quantities of that necessary of life are daily sold. This
market is mentioned in the common council books in 1717. On the west side, there
are slaughter-houses and beef-shops, for the convenience of the shipping. The townwall adjoining was every Saturday covered with old clothes, shoes, boots, &c. exposed
for sale; but this wall, which was very high and strong, is now pulled down, and
butchers' shops and warehouses erected where it stood. The road has thus been rendered more commodious, and the whole has an improved appearance. The old clothes
market is at present held in the street, where also great numbers of reapers are hired
every Sunday during harvest.
Sandgate is divided near the middle by a runner of water, called in former times
the Swirle, at present, by corruption, the Squirrel. This was anciently the bounds of
Newcastle. The continuation of the street beyond this is called St. Ann's Street, from
the neighbouring chapel. Proceeding eastward is a ropery upon a ballast-hill, which
is said to have been the first ballast-shore without the town of Newcastle; for which
purpose, and that of erecting lime-kilns upon it, it appears to have been purchased by
the mayor and burgesses of the lord of the manor of Byker. The ballast was carried
on women's heads out of the small vessels that came for coals. On the south side of
this hill there is a pleasant walk, from which is a prospect of the river, and of great
part of the town and neighbourhood.
In consequence of the rapidly increasing communication between this town and
Shields, and the extreme inconvenience and hazard of driving carriages through
Sandgate, a new road was, in 1776, made from the north side of the Milk Market, to
pass behind the streets of Sandgate and St. Ann's; the commissioners of the turnpike
road leading from Newcastle to North Shields having obtained a lease of the ground
necessary for that purpose, at the yearly rent of one shilling, from the common council of Newcastle. This branch is called Sandgate New-road.
On ascending the bank, which forms the commencement of this road, there is a
wide passage into the Wall Knoll, called Forster's Street. Above this, and parallel
to the town-wall, a steep road leads up to Sallyport-gate. On the east side are a
few houses, called Vinf's Buildings, behind which is a meeting-house, where a congregation of the Ranter's, or Primitive Methodists, now meet. East from this stands
the Keelman's Hospital, a building that reflects the highest honour on that body of
men. Adjoining the hospital is a small field, called the Garth-heads, where hundreds
of children and youths, from the unwholesome lanes in Sandgate, may be almost
constantly seen amusing themselves. It was formerly much more extensive. (fn. 3) On
one side of this ground the Royal Jubilee School has been recently erected.
The airy and convenient situation of the New-road has given rise to a row of elegant houses. These buildings, which are mostly inhabited by mercantile people, are
situated on a small eminence north of the road; and in front of each house is a little
grass or flower plot, which gives them an agreeable appearance. During the seasons
of scarcity about the beginning of this century, when such immense quantities of foreign corn were imported, large temporary granaries were erected on both sides of
this road. These the people termed Egypt, in allusion to those erected by Joseph
in that ancient country, which appellation was confirmed by the proprietors.
The south side of the New-road, from opposite the Keelman's Hospital to the termination of Sandgate, consists of a continued line of convenient, modern-built houses.
The west end is adorned by a new Methodist chapel, and the east end by a handsome, regular-built row of houses. The good folks of Sandgate call it "Quality
Row;" but it is sometimes named "Keenleyside Row," after the family that possess
all the property from Ebenezer Chapel to the Ropery-pant.
At the west end of Sandgate there is a broad passage, communicating with the
lane that leads to Sandgate Shore. It was made by Mr. Dykes in 1681, when he
erected a water-engine at the Folly, which will be more particularly noticed hereafter.
Sandgate Shore, which extends along the water-side, has, in some parts, buildings on
both sides, and certainly merits the name of a street. It contains several public
houses, warehouses for marine stores, smiths' and chain-makers' shops, the Tyne
Brewery, and a convenient ship-building yard.
The continuation of this road to the Glasshouse-bridge is called the North Shore,
and contains several dock-yards and rows of dwelling-houses, which, fronting the
river, are equally healthy and pleasant. The Glasshouse-bridge, by which the rivulet
of Ouseburn is crossed, consists of one arch of stone. Opposite to the east end of
the bridge, the buildings of the glass-works commence, and cover a considerable extent of ground. After passing the cluster of buildings called the Middle Glasshouses,
we arrive at the grounds of St. Lawrence, where is a pleasant house, fronting the
river, occupied by Thomas Smith, Esq. (fn. 3)
After passing the Glasshouse-bridge, a road on the left conducts to the Ballast
Hills, one part of which is enclosed, and used as a burying-ground. A regular range
of buildings, usually called Quality Row, stretches from the burying-ground to near
the Shields turnpike road. The opposite side is occupied by manufactories.
At the east end of St. Ann's chapel there is a pleasant row of buildings, situated
on an eminence, called St. Ann's Row. From thence the turnpike road leading to
North Shields proceeds down a steep hill, and crosses the Ouseburn by a tolerably
wide stone bridge. As the tide flows up this burn, and consequently affords the
convenience of water carriage, both its banks are covered with buildings; and a large
space of ground, which, some years ago, contained only a few wretched hovels, has
been converted into a considerable village. On ascending the hill that leads to Byker
toll-bar, each side of which is now nearly covered with buildings, a long and pleasant
row of houses stretches out upon the left, called Byker Buildings. Higher up there
is another neat row, called Brough Buildings, which were erected in 1790. From
below the Ouseburn-bridge up to where the tide flows, each side of the water is covered with extensive and important manufactories, consisting of corn steam-mills,
foundries, potteries, a flax-mill, and other works, as will be more particularly noticed in
the sequel. Between the burn and the public road, a little above the bridge, there is
a lime-kiln, which is not only a great nuisance to the neighbourhood, but also dangerous to passengers riding past. It is to be hoped that the corporation will remove
a work so disagreeable and dangerous.