19th Century Gateshead
On the east of High Street were houses with courts, alleys and streets behind continued almost as far as Jackson’s Chare (Jackson Street), but on the west there were gardens and an orchard on the site of what is now the shopping precinct and multistory car park. Barnes Close was fields and Bailey Chare, later called Half Moon Lane and now Mulgrave Terrace, was a country road leading from High Street to the Windmill Hills giving the traveler a fine view of the Tyne Valley. There were some houses on West Street and a windmill at its Function with Jackson’s Chare where the Co-operative Store stands today.
St. Edmund’s Hospital Chapel, now Holy Trinity Church, stood among trees in a field. In 1836 the ground and building of the ruined hospital was given to the Rector and Churchwardens of Gateshead, with land for schools to be built. A public collection wa s made for the repair of the building and the restored Chapel (supervised by John Dobson) was opened as Holy Trinity in 1837. Nearby, Park Lane passed between fields to Park House and its estate.
To the east of the junction of Sunderland Road and High Street were two reservoirs which supplied some of the town with water. There had been ponds on this site, filled by a stream flowing from the west called the Busy Burn. This area is now covered by the A1 flyover and the land where the All Saints School and playing field stood.
Further south, (opposite the Five Bridges Hotel) the chapel of the Hospital of Ki ng James was rebuilt in 1810 as St Edmund’s Chapel and a cemetery was added in. 1811 and extended in 1852 after which burials at St. Mary’s stopped.
There were still large private estates covering most of the town. The largest was the Park Estate, which at 424 acres in 1836 was a piece of the Bishops of Durham’s hunting park to the east of Gateshead. The Saltwell Estate had at one time been the larg est in Gateshead. This covered approximately 500 acres from East Park Road to the Team and from Bensham to Low Fell. In 1805 this area was split up into a number of smaller groups, one of which, the Saltwell Cottage Estate, forms the present Saltwell Park. The Redheugh Estate was one of the oldest in the town, this was set up in the thirteenth century by the Redheugh family.
These estates had mansions and were occupied by rich manufacturers who had left the squalor on the banks of the Tyne. Unfortunately, these in turn became deserted in later years and some were demolished.
Saltwell Park was opened in 1876. This was bought for £32,000 from William Wailes who had Saltwell Towers built, and a further £11,000 was spent on landscaping, including the artificial lake which was made in 1880. Saltwell Towers still stands in the park but the woodwork suffers from dry rot and it is now unused.
1810) Building commenced of Ravensworth Castle.
1831) The Marquis of Londonderry objected to Gateshead being repre sented in Parliament. He said “Why should Gateshead have a say in Parliament. It is a mere suburb, a long, dirty lane, leading to Newcastle – a most filthy spot, containing the vilest class of Society.” Lord Durham was in favour of Gateshead and said the working people of the town were industrious and intelligent.
1832) The Cholera Plague swept the town and the population was reduced by about half. The Rector of Gateshead and William Henry Brockett established a Dispensary in West Street.
1835) The town becomes a Municipal Borough in which three aldermen and eighteen councilor’s took over local management.
1837) The town’s first newspaper, the ‘Gateshead Observer’ was published.
1838) A police force was established. There were two ‘lock-ups’, one in the Town Hall-, the other at the Bridge End. A constable was paid seventeen shillings (72p) per week, for an eleven hour day, and got one free suit and two pairs of shoes per year.
1841) Gateshead police were provided with rattles and Mr Usher, head of the police, went to the workshouse as Master.
1843) Bridge End Jail was fitted with iron bars.
1845) The first police doctor in town got £8 per annum.
1846) Leg irons were brought into use.
1850) Police wages were reduced to fifteen shillings.
1849) The High Level Bridge was opened by Queen Victoria
1853) Police were forbidden to carry sticks and were ordered by the Watch Committee to “Control their tempers.”
1854) The Police Superintendent was awarded £5 5s 0d for his devotion to duty during the Great Fire of Gateshead. More than fifty people were killed and 200 families were made homeless, many of them were from the poorer classes who lived in the slums near the river. The estimated damage was put at more than £500 000
1855-57/58) The Police force was increased to twenty-two men and got its first Sergeant and first Chief Constable