Newburn in old picture postcards

Newburn in old picture postcards

:   Noël G. Rippeth
:   Tyne & Wear
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5542-7
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Newburn in old picture postcards'

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Newburn stands on the north bank of the river Tyne, just downstream of the point where the river ceases to be tida!. The settlement taak its name from the 'New Burn' which flows into the Tyne through the town, today carried in pipes underground. Almast two hundred years ago, however, the burn' s flow was hamessed to good effect by John Spencer, bringing prosperity and an international reputation for steel working to the town th at bore its name. From time immemorial, the Tyne near Newburn has usually been fordable at one or more places. Befare the dredging to improve the river for navigation which took place almost a century ago, it was possible to walk or ride across the Tyne from four places within the ancient parish of Newbum. Two of these fords crossed near the present-day bridges at Wylam and Newburn, while the others traversed the river on the bend near Lemington. Today these two old fords are overlooked by the twin Steil a Power Stations North and South of the river, standing silent and abandoned as they await their own destruction.

As weil as the fords there was also a ferry between the Newburn and Ryton banks of the river, first established by Cistercian monks in the thirteenth century. Then the flow was strong enough to make fording somewhat hazardous. The ferry operated more or less continuously for over seven hundred years, until the retirement of the last ferryman during the Second W orId War.

The strategie importance of this crossing place has been recognised throughout its long history. The tribes th at inhabited the Tyne Valley befare the Roman invasion built

twin fortified settlements near CastIe Hili on the south si de and on the northern bank at Heddon. These bronze age castles controlled the north and south routes to the ford. This crossed the Tyne a little downstream of the modern bridge at Wylam. Thousands of years before this our earliest ancestors, using the Tyne as a route to colonise the river valley after the last ice age, paddled canoelike boats across the river. The remains of two of these craft were discovered during improvement work to the river bank.

The Romans crossed the Tyne at the Wylam ford as they travelled from the Ebchester Camp to first build, then man, the forts and milecastles of Hadrian's Wal!. The wall crossed to the north of modern Newbum passing through Throckley and Heddon. Roman engineers improved the ford with dressed flag st on es set into the river bed, one such stone, inscribed in Latin, was found by a schoolboy over sixty years ago. The Romans also bridged the river at NewcastIe, making an alternative port and crossing which was destined, a thousand years later, to eclipse Newburn as a commercial centre.

By the time the legions withdrew from Brittania, Angles and Saxons were already established along the east coast of England, and by the end of the sixth century this area had become part of the kingdom of Northumbria. The rise of the Saxon kingdom, its conversion to christianity and the continual yearly invasions by Danes which brought about the de cline of the kingdom and its partition into English Bernicia and Danish Deira, had local consequences. The Saxon abandonment of York to the Danes meant a return

to their original capital at Bamborough. The coastal position of Bamborough exposed it to raids by Viking 'Sea Raven' longboats. After the Saxons held and defeated the Vikings at Ravensworth, they feIt th at the strategically important crossing at Newbum would provide an ideal site for a royal residence. Sa a palace was built, using the stones from the Roman Wall, and named Wall Botel, the house of the wall. The town acquired the status of a royal burgh, and a Saxon church was built.

With the union of all the ancient kingdoms, first under AIfred then under Saxon or Danish kings of England, the status of English Northumbria changed, becoming first a dient kingdom and th en an earldom in the gift of the King of England. Whilst the various claimants to rule Northumbria sought support either from the King or some Danish or Saxon pretender to the English throne they lost their regal status. The debilitating effect of brutal and treacherous murders amongst the descendants of St. Oswald and King Edwin over more than a century ensured the demi se of the ancient kingdom. The earldom of Northumberland was born in blood. The final act ofthis tragedy was played out in Newburn Church in 1072. At this time two men c1aimed the earldom. Copsi had his claim accepted by King William and was residing in the aid Royal Hall when he was surprised by an attack in overwhelming numbers led by his rival Osulph. Osulph had lost the earldom after the Northern Revolt in 1070. When Osulph attacked the town, Copsi and his housecarls, realizing their untenable position, retreated to the church, hoping that Osulph would re-

speet the sanctuary. Osulph's men set the church alight and killed all who tried to escape from the holocaust.

The church, of Saxon foundation with some lower courses of Roman stones, was virtually rebuilt after 1072 and partly rebuilt in 1827. It was extensively repaired and re-seated in 1872. It is cruxiform in plan, with a square tower, and is dedicated to St. Michael. Such a plan and dedication usually signifie that the church occupies a pagan site. Whether this was a temple to the Roman legions, Mithras, a Saxon altar to Waden or even a Druidic grove of the Brigantes who farmed the land befare the Roman occupation, remains a mystery.

The history of Newburn since the Normans rebuilt the church is traeed in the notes which accompany the postcards reproduced here. Where I have drawn on written sourees I have indicated in the text.

1 wish to place on record my thanks to: Mr. R. Bould of Crookhill for his help and encouragement, Mr. P. Waugh of Crawcrook, who reproduced many of the photographs, and the staff and volunteers of Newcastle City's West Newcastle Local History Archive Unit, led by Mr. J .D. Walton, who kindly allowed me the laan of photographs and other materials without which the baak could not have been produced.

Ryton, December 1992

N. G. Rippeth

1. Newburn, St. Miehoel's Church, c1900. This view is dominated by the tower of St. Michael's Church. The shape of the tower and the lack of windows at lower levels, other than slits through which arrows could be fired, are a reminder that this parish church was also built as the village stronghold against the Scots. As the Newburn ford lay on the great drove route from Scotland, Newburn was occupied by invading Seots several times. In 1138 King David took Northumberland and fortified the ford with a wooden castJe on the Ryton bank. Again, in 1346, another King David, ignoring a warning from St. Cuthbert's ghost, erossed here, only to be defeated at Neville's Cross. During the Civil War General Lesley used the ehureh tower as a firing platform for Seots eannon; their shot routed a smal! English force entrenched before Stella. This defeat allowed the Seots to oeeupy England north of the Tees for over a year.

2. Newburn, church interior, cl900. This picture is taken from a card sent by a friend to a member of the Spencerfamily. John Spencer began a smaJl business making files in a Newcastle pub yard in 1810. When this card was posted a century later Speneer's Steelworks supplied most of the employment in Newburn. The card shows the chancelof the church, with the organ pipes visible above the left choir stalls and the altar backed by splendid murals around the curtained stained-glass window of St. James. The old church has witnessed many events, happy and sad, during its long history. ft was here that George Stephenson, the railway pioneer and inventor of the 'Geordie' miners' safety lamp, was baptised in 1781. He was married here twice, firstin 1802 to FannyHenderson who diedin 1805, and again in 1820, to Elizabeth Hindmarch. Another marriage of more local notoriety took place in the church in 1811 when Mrs. Anne Thirlwell, the butcher's widow, turned up for her wedding to the ferryman in the nude.

3. Newburn, High Street, north side. These cottages stood a little to the left of the site of the FireStation. The gas lamp in the right foreground was lit nightly by the village gaslighter at the time this photograph was taken. The two-storey house on the right, with a roof of Welsh slate and smart sash windows, was then less than hundred years old. However, the others with their single-storey rubble walls and pantiled roofs fit the description of an early Victorian local history . This states: 'The village consists of old houses, irregularly built on uneven ground.' The text continues: 'Every house has a garden attached to it and the village is renowned for its.early and excellent fruit.' There were then five public houses and the inhabitants, who were mostly Iishermen, keelmen and colliers, were 'in general very poor'.

4. Newburn, High Streel, the Almshouses , 1916. This view, taken during the Great War, shows one horse-drawn trap on the road. Living today in the age of mass car ownership it is hard to realise that our forefathers rarely travelled far from their village and workplace. The tramlines are a sign that the world was changing. Ordinary workmen, who for countless generations had lived, worked and died in the village, were beginning to use the tramcar. This new mobility enabled them to find work outside the village, in the burgeoning industries along the river bank. The Almshouses are a reminder of a more traditional village society. They were erected in 1870 by the Duke of Northumberland. Originally only four of the houses were occupied by Newburn folk, the rest were old tenants of the Duke from Shilbottle and elsewhere. In the decades before the welfare state each tenant received a weekly dole from the trustees. Today the tenants pay rent.

5. Newburn, the fire brigade, 1922. The fire service for Newburn was set up by the Urban District Council and manned by volunteers. Service in the brigade often ran in families, as evidenced by father and son Bob and Tom Gordon. seen here third and fifth from the left. The uniform was modelled on Royal Navy dress; when on call the naval style hats were replaced by brass heImets. A similar dress was worn by the few full-time members ofthe mine rescue service, who trained the volunteer pitmen of the local colliery rescue teams. This photograph was taken to celebrate the opening ofthe new fire station, visible behind the fire engine. The station was built in 1922 in the industrial centre of the village, at the low end of High Street, convenient for the Spencer Works. The volunteer firemen were always nearby to respond to the fire alarm, as they all worked at Speneer's and were housed in the cottages opposite the fire station. These houses became known locally as 'Firernan's Row'.

6. Newburn, houses on the fire station site cl900. This card shows the east end of High Street at the turn of the century. The great bulk of Speneer's Works towers over the houses. The fencing in the foreground marks the bed of the 'New Burn'. This was the stream which had originally provided the power for the works but, since the change to steam power, was disregarded and partly built over. The pipes in the right of the picture carried water from the Newburn pumping station of the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Co. This was clean water from local reservoirs and filter beds. These were set up at Throckley and Whittle Dene following cholera outbreaks along the Tyne. In 1832 an epidemie affected 424 out of the 515 persons then living in Newburn. There were 57 deaths, including the vicar. The Ryton curate, Reverend J. Reed, braved this plague to give the victims a christian burial. The cholera was traeed to drinking water pumped from the Tyne.

7. Newburn, steelworks cl920. This card dates from the end of the era of the postcard, which began with the introduetion of the lhd postage rate for cards in 1886. Until the price was raised to ld, the same as an open envelope letter, after the Great War, the postcard was the main medium for messages by mail. The cards caused an insatiable demand for photographs and it is because of this that we have such a complete pictorial record of the buildings in our towns and villages. Few today would consider a factory suitable to adom a postcard. The view gives us a panorama of the means of transport used in Newburn. On the left we have the village street. Then the mineral railway line, this was the successor to the colliery wagonway from Wylam pit to Newburn Staithes laid in the 18th century. It was along this line that the Wylam Dilly ran (see card 42). Next is the Scotswood, Newburn and Wylam branch ofthe Newcastle to Carlisle Railway and the Spencer factory sidings. Finallyon the right is the river with loading quay for beats visiting the factory.

8. Newburn, Speneer's Works in 1909. This photograph is one of several in the book taken by Mr. Elder, who was employed as an analytical chemist by Speneer's. He was a keen photographer, who had his own darkroom in the laboratory and whose photographs are now in the keeping of the West City Local History Archives of Newcastle City Libraries, with copies on display at Newburn branch library, In front of the left-hand end of the factory are the railway wagons which were designed to carry large sheets of steel. In the right centre of the photo is the steam crane that was used to move the scrap metal added in the steelmaking process. This scrap can be seen in heaps in front of the factory building on the right. Speneer's Works provided much of the employment in the village and great hardship was caused when it was forced to cease trading in 1926, due to a post-war collapse in world markets for steel. The finn's position was further worsened by the loss of raw material supplies during the miners lock-out in 1925, which provoked the General Strike.

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