18th Century Gateshead

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1700) George Bell, a officer appointed to keep order in the church, was paid one and sixpence per, week “to take care to turn vagrants and Scots out of the parish.”

1716) Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, leased the Manor of Gateshead to William Cotesworth at a rental of £235 11s 4d. per annum. He was Lord of the Manor (1716-1726) and it is thought that he live at Park House, now the drawing office of Clarke Chapman’s.

1719) Daniel Defoe hitch-hiked his way North to avoid imprisonment for debt, settled in Hillgate where it is thought that he wrote his notes for Robinson Crusoe which was to become a best seller, and helped him settle his debts.

1746) Butcher Cumberland was on his way to Culloden Moor to fight “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. The Gateshead folk climbed on the walls of a gentleman’s estate so that they could watch the army coming down the High Street. The gardener of the estate set the dogs on them and many were bitten on the legs. The keelmen and freemen were so angry that they set fire to the mansion.

1753) Thomas Bewick was born at Cherryburn. He was an artist, engraver and naturalist, and lived at 19 West Street, Gateshead from 1812.

1771) Floods swept down the Northern valleys and washed the Tyne Bridge away and communication with Gateshead was cut off. It was then realised. that Gateshead must have its own Post Office and it was established that year.

1773) Thomas Wilson, a local poet and mathematician was born on the 14th December.

1781) The Tyne Bridge was opened on 30th April.

By the mid-eighteenth century the four main industrial areas of today, Team, Pipewellgate, Hillgate and the South Shore, were already the site of brick and tile yards, potteries and ironworks. All these areas had the necessary access to the rivers for tr ansport and in some cases water power and in addition comprised the only flat land in the town.

The main road to Durham led up Bottle Bank, named after the Saxon word ‘botl’ meaning settlement. This was and still is a very steep hill. Church Street was built in 1790 to overcome the problem of the steep hill and follows the same way as today, curving to the east, passing St. Mary’s Church, and then rejoining Bottle Bank at the foot of High Street. Behind these main streets were alleys and courts with poor drainage and no sanitation. The living conditions were poor but not as bad as the overcrowding later in the century when there was a plague of cholera, typhoid and smallpox.