The Georgian North East

The Georgian North 1714 to 1799

The Georgian era stretches from 1714 to 1838, although the early part of the nineteenth century is also known as the Regency period. Georgian times saw the onset of Industrial Revolution, world exploration and distinct styles of architecture.

👈 Queen Anne | Timeline |19th Century 👉

Nathaniel Buck's view of Newcastle 1745
Detail from Nathaniel Buck’s view of Newcastle 1745.

Aug 1, 1714 – KING GEORGE I

The German speaking, King George I, ascends to the throne of Great Britain as the first king of what will be known as the House of Hanover and the first monarch of the ‘Georgian’ age, named from a succession of four kings all called George. His maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, was the sister of King Charles I, the king who was executed in 1649. Elizabeth had married Frederick V, the Elector Palatine of the Rhine and King of Bohemia. King George’s mother, Sophia, was married to Ernest Augustus, the Elector of Hanover.

1714 – Morpeth clock tower

Morpeth clock tower is built to the designs of the famed architect Vanbrugh. Morpeth was one of the towns that will welcome the Jacobites in 1715, with some men joining up with the Jacobite army when they enter the town.

Morpeth Clock Tower.
Morpeth © David Simpson

Nov 1715 – Geordies or Jacobites? 

George I, a German Protestant, who speaks not a word of English was crowned king of England in 1714 despite objections from Scottish (and some English) ‘Jacobite’ rebels who support James Stuart, the ‘Old Pretender’. Leading rebel, the Northumbrian Tom Forster of Bamburgh, leads an army of mostly Scottish Jacobites into England. Every Northumberland town seems to support him except for Newcastle which declares for King George. Newcastle folk will then supposedly come to be known as ‘Geordies‘ (though in truth this seems to be a myth, as the term appears to have originated as a word for a North East miner). The Jacobite army were later defeated at Preston in Lancashire.

1716 – Capability Brown born

The famed future landscape gardener Lancelot Brown who will come to be known as ‘Capability Brown’ is born at Kirkharle in Northumberland.

Capability Brown.

1717 – Wear Commissioners

The River Wear Commissioners are established at Sunderland to improve navigation into the port. Much dredging is required as sandbanks are a particular problem.

1719 – Sunderland a separate parish

‘Old Sunderland’ near the mouth of the river achieves the status of a separate parish and a church is built for this new jurisdiction. Old Sunderland was previously part of Bishopwearmouth and the whole town area was most commonly known as Wearmouth at the time rather than Sunderland, though Sunderland does seem to have been used an alternative name for the town and particularly the port.

Sunderland's Holy Trinity church
Old Sunderland’s Holy Trinity church dates from 1719 © David Simpson

1720 – Alum making

John Cookson established an alum chemical works in South Shields. The same site will later manufacture glue, sulphate of soda, soap and glass.

1720 – Steel making

Amongst the many thriving industries in the North East at this time is steel making. It was during this decade that the still-surviving Derwentcote Steel making furnace was built in north west Durham.

Derwentcote Steel Furnace
The Derwentcote Steel furnace © David Simpson

1720 – Durham Mustard

A Mrs Clements of Durham City has developed the distinct English blend of mustard. King George I will become one of her keenest customers. Durham will develop into a centre for mustard making and continue to be so until the end of the nineteenth century when the recipe and its manufacture passes to a company in Norwich.

1720 – Shipbuilder defies Newcastle

Robert Wallis begins building ships in South Shields despite fierce opposition from the town of Newcastle which threatened to seize his first ship as soon as it enters the Tyne. A legal battle ensues which Wallis wins.

1722 – Customs official found dead

The body of a customs official has been found dead on St Mary’s Island near Whitley Bay close to a spot called Smugglers Creek.

St Mary's Island near Whitley Bay.
St Mary’s Island near Whitley Bay © David Simpson

1722 – Ridley mines

The White Ridley family take over mines at Hartford and Plessey in south east Northumberland and will begin the construction of a quay at Blyth. The mines at Plessey are linked to Blyth by the Plessey wagonway, a wooden railway in use since at least 1709 that seems to date back to the 1690s.

1723 – The Lang Pack

A gang of burglars attempt to break into Lee Hall in Tynedale after one disguised as a pedlar leaves a parcel – a long pack – containing one of their number with the house servants while the owners of the house are away. The intention was for the pack’s occupant to break free later that evening and allow his accomplices into the hall. The servants take in the package but become suspicious and fire a shotgun at the package killing the man inside, before alerting the authorities. The deceased would-be burglar is buried at Bellingham churchyard.

The Lang Pack grave, Bellingham
The Lang Pack grave, Bellingham © David Simpson

1724 – Daniel Defoe in Newcastle

In his Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain the writer Daniel Defoe described Newcastle as a “spacious, extended, infinitely populous place”. He describes the Tyne as “a noble, large and deep river” and goes on to say: “They build ships here to perfection, I mean as to strength and firmness, and to bear the sea; and as the coal trade occasions a demand for such strong ships, a great many are built here.”

Daniel Defoe

1724 – Houses on the Tyne Bridge

Writer, Daniel Defoe, visiting Newcastle, noted that the houses clustered across the bridge at Newcastle resemble those of London.

1725 – Tanfield Railway

The Tanfield Railway, a colliery wagonway in northern Durham opens.

Causey Arch
Causey Arch © David Simpson

1727 – Causey Arch

The Causey Arch railway bridge is built for the Tanfield Railway across the Causey Burn Dene.

1727 – Pit disaster at Lumley Park

A colliery disaster at Lumley Park near Chester-le-Street claims sixty lives.

1727 – Guiding lights at Shields

The old low lights are built at North Shields for the guidance of ships entering the Tyne. They are initially lit by three tallow candles and later by oil lamps.

Old Low Light, North Shields
Old Low Light, North Shields © David Simpson

June 11, 1727 – KING GEORGE II

George II becomes King of Britain following the death of his father, King George I, who died at Osnabuck in Lower Saxony. Although, unlike his father, the new king can speak English, he still prefers Germany to Britain.

1729 – Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall, built by Sir John Vanbrugh from around 1718, for Admiral Lord Delaval, is completed around this time. The architectural style is English Baroque, based on the Palladian style.

Seaton Delaval Hall © David Simpson

1730 – Rokeby Hall

Sir Thomas Robinson of Rokeby Park encloses his land and builds a park at Rokeby near Barnard Castle. His new house is built in a neo-Palladian style.

Rokeby Hall
Rokeby Hall © David Simpson

1732 – Sedgefield racing

Horse racing is held at Sedgefield.

1735 – Stockton Town House

The Town House or ‘Town Hall’ at Stockton-on-Tees is built. Further additions are made in 1744.

The town hall and bank, Stockton
The town hall in Stockton  © David Simpson

1736 – New teeth

An allegedly 108-year-old woman in Bishop Auckland is supposed to have received a new set of teeth this year.

1736 – Bourne’s Newcastle history

Henry Bourne published his extensive History of Newcastle.

1736 – Bedlington Iron Works

An iron works is established at Bedlington by Cumberland man William Thomlinson, who built dams on the River Blyth to power the mills for his works.

Bedlington from the churchyard.
Bedlington from the churchyard © David Simpson

1739 – Gibbeting near Whitley Bay

The body of a Seaton Sluice glassworker, Michael Curry who murdered a local pub landlord at nearby Hartley was left hanging and tarred on the coast near St Mary’s Island at a place that will come to be known as Curry’s Point.

Curry's Point.
Curry’s Point © David Simpson

1739 – Dick Turpin hanged

The famed Yorkshire highwayman Dick Turpin is hanged for murder at the Knavesmire in York.

1739 – The old Newcastle Journal

A newspaper called the Newcastle Journal is established and will continue to be published until 1788 (the present day Newcastle Journal is a different newspaper and dates from 1832).

1740 – Cambo

The village of Cambo, is built as a model village for the estate workers, of nearby Wallington Hall in Northumberland.

Cottages at Cambo.
Cottages at Cambo © David Simpson

June 9, 1740 – Newcastle riot

A riot breaks out in Newcastle over rising corn prices. The militia opens fire, killing one. Seven men are later transported.

April 17, 1741 – Farmer’s wife kills children

A farmer’s wife called Charlton went berserk at a farm near Fishburn, killing her 14-year-old son with a cleaver before killing her two younger children. She then took her own life stabbing herself below the ear. All this happened while her husband was trying to get a cow out of a ditch. The coroner recorded a verdict of lunacy.

May 1742 – John Wesley at Newcastle

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preaches at Newcastle and records: “I was surprised; so much drunkenness, cursing and swearing, even from mouths of little children, do I never remember to have seen and heard before on so small a compass of time.” Newcastle will become one of his favourite places to preach.

John Wesley

1743 – Salt pans galore

There are an extraordinary 200 salt pans at South Shields used in the noxious manufacture of salt.

1743 – Soldier knighted on battlefield

Soldier, Tom Brown, who becomes Sir Tom Brown is a national hero after losing his fingers recovering his regiment’s standard at the Battle of Dettingen in Bavaria. He is personally knighted on the battlefield by King George II. Brown, who was born in Kirkleatham is a resident of Yarm.

Tom Brown

Jan 1744 – Pirates seize ships

A ship called The Thomas and Margaret of Sunderland along with a brigantine from Berwick are seized by the pirate crew of a privateer ship off Alnmouth.

River meets the sea at Alnmouth
River meets the sea at Alnmouth © David Simpson

Feb 1745 – Wesley lost in snowstorm

Preacher John Wesley found himself stranded in a ferocious snow storm on Gateshead Fell, describing it as one of his roughest journeys.

1745 – No Jacobite support

Scottish Jacobites supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie rebel against George II. There is little North East support so the Jacobites march south through Cumbria, avoiding troops stationed at Framwellgate Moor and Newcastle. The Jacobites later retreat and will be defeated at Culloden.

The Heugh, Quarrington Hill
The army of the Butcher Duke of Cumberland camped at Quarrington Hill near Durham on their way north to the Battle of Culloden in 1746 © David Simpson

1747 – Pickled parson

The Reverend of Sedgefield, John Garnage passed away in the second week of December 1747 only a matter of days before tithes were to be collected in his name for the upkeep of the parish. As the vicar is deceased the revenue will go to the bishopric. The vicar’s wife, facing the predicament of poverty, pickles her husband with preservatives to convince the church authorities he is still alive.

The Pickled Parson Sedgefield
Sedgefield © David Simpson

1747 – Market Cross

A market cross is built at Barnard Castle by Thomas Breaks. The octagonal feature is one of the key landmarks of the town.

Market Cross, Barnard Castle
Market Cross, Barnard Castle © David Simpson

1748 – Hawks works at Gateshead

The engineering works of William Hawks which will come to be known to locals as ‘Haaks’ is established on Gateshead’s riverside. It will employ 800 men by the 1830s. Situated roughly where we find the BALTIC gallery today.

1749 – Cullercoats fish market

After a brief stint as a coal port, the village of Cullercoats has been developing into a fishing port noted for its herring, and described as the ‘best fish market in the North’ this year.

Cullercoats Bay.
Cullercoats Bay © David Simpson

Sep 5, 1751 – Newcastle Infirmary

The foundation stone for the Newcastle upon Tyne Infirmary is laid by the Bishop of Durham, Joseph Butler in the town’s Forth Bank area and will open in 1752. It will be the predecessor of the later Royal Victoria Infirmary of 1906.

1752 – Fire at Seaton Delaval Hall

A major fire tears through Seaton Delaval Hall. The hall is the work of the famed architect Sir John Vanbrugh.

1752 – Pease’s textiles

The Quaker Pease family become major players in Darlington’s textile industry around this time.

1752 – Blanchland village

The beautiful village of Blanchland is laid out close to the River Derwent in Northumberaland using stone from the old abbey of Blanchland. It partially follows the layout of the old monastery. The village is built by the trustees of the late Nathaniel Lord Crewe (died 1721), a former Bishop of Durham.

Blanchland © David Simpson

1754 – Berwick Town Hall

The prominent Berwick Town Hall in the town’s Marygate is commenced. It will be completed in 1760.

Marygate, Berwick
Marygate, Berwick © David Simpson

1757 – Mailings of Bedlington

Mailings of Sunderland purchase the iron works at Bedlington.

April 1757 – Piracy problem

A privateer captures a Berwick sloop at Alnmouth. Last year a French privateer captured a fishing smack that was full of salmon, this again belonged to the unfortunate port of Berwick.

1757 – Crewe Trustees own Bamburgh

Bamburgh Castle comes into the hands of the charitable trust of the late Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham.

Bamburgh Castle and village
Bamburgh Castle and village © David Simpson

1759 – Shipbuilding at Howdon

Francis Hurry established a shipbuilding business at Howdon near Wallsend.

1759 – Stockton press gangs

John Wesley is interrupted by a press gang raid during his sermon in the High Street at Stockton.

Stockton Town hall and Market Cross.
Stockton Town hall and Market Cross © David Simpson

Jan 1760 – Press gangs at North Shields

Sixty men are captured by Press Gangs at North Shields but they manage to take control of the ship that captured them and sail into Scarborough where they escape.

1760 – Bridge tower removed

A tower and gateway at the Silver Street end of Framwellgate Bridge in Durham is demolished.

1760 – Bobby Shafto MP

Bobby Shafto of Whitworth Hall near Spennymoor becomes an MP for County Durham, a local folk song is used as an election ditty. He will also be elected in 1761.

Whitworth Hall.
Whitworth Hall © David Simpson

1760 – Gibside Chapel

The impressive Gibside Chapel, a Palladian style mausoleum built by James Paine for the Bowes family is completed in the Derwent valley near Gateshead.

Gibside Chapel
Gibside Chapel © David Simpson 2022

1760 – Herschel heads Durham band

German composer and astronomer, William Herschel, who currently lives in Sunderland, becomes the head of the Durham Militia Band. Herschel is most famous for discovering the planet Uranus

1760 – Brandlings move to Gosforth

The Brandling family of Felling Hall to the south of the Tyne relocate to Gosforth north of Newcastle. The Brandlings are notable coal owners.

1760 – Gothic gateway

A Gothic style gateway leading from Bishop Auckland market place into the grounds of Auckland Castle is built by architect, Sir Thomas Robinson of Rokeby Hall, replacing an earlier gatehouse.

Gateway to the castle Bishop Auckland
Gateway to the castle Bishop Auckland © David Simpson

Oct 25, 1760 – KING GEORGE III

George III becomes king following the death of his grandfather, King George II. The new king’s father was Frederick, the Prince of Wales who was killed after he was struck by a cricket ball in 1751.

Mar 9, 1761 – Hexham Massacre

Troops open fire on the crowd at Hexham after The Riot Act was read to Allendale miners demonstrating against army conscription methods. Forty men are killed on the spot. A 74-year-old man is later hanged for his part in the riot, but it is later discovered that he was not in Hexham on the day in question.

An old postcard showing Hexham and its abbey

1763 – Dockwray Square

Dockwray Square is constructed at North Shields up hill from the riverside, the first stage in the town’s shift away from its riverside roots.

1763 – Bottle works

John Hussey Delaval, finding the shallow depth of the harbour at Seaton Sluice unsuitable for the demands of the coal trade establishes a bottle making works here.

1763 – Diamond found inside bird

A woodcock shot at Bait Island (St Mary’s Island near Whitley Bay) is found to contain a diamond in its stomach.

1763 – Winston Bridge

A stone bridge is built across the River Tees at Winston near Barnard Castle by Sir Thomas Robinson of Rokeby. It was at the time the longest single span stone bridge in Europe.

Winston Bridge
Winston Bridge © David Simpson

1763 – Coldstream Bridge

A bridge linking the Scottish town of Coldstream to the Northumbrian village of Cornhil across the Tweed is built.

1764 – Delaval’s cut at Seaton

John Hussey Delaval creates a deep 900 feet channel at the little port of Seaton Sluice to make the journey of the Seaton Burn to the sea more direct.

Seaton Sluice
Seaton Sluice, showing the natural outlet to the left and new cut to the right © David Simpson

1764 – The Newcastle Chronicle

The Newcastle Chronicle, a weekly newspaper is founded (it is a predecessor of the Newcastle Daily Chronicle founded in 1858).

July 13, 1764 – Ice rocks shower

Ice crystals with a five inch circumference shower Hartlepool for 15 minutes at 8am.

Nov 1765 – Storms kill keelmen

Storms kill thirty keelmen and leave fifty-three Tyneside children fatherless.

1767 – Deer shelter

A Gothic style Deer House is built in Auckland Park, near Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland.

Deer House Auckland Park
Deer House Auckland Park, Bishop Auckland © David Simpson

1767 – Mason-Dixon line surveyed

Jeremiah Dixon of Cockfield in County Durham surveys and defines the Mason-Dixon line in America along with Charles Mason. It helps to define and resolve a border dispute involving Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. It later became the demarcation line between the northern and southern states, giving its name to ‘Dixieland’.

1767 – Farming Pioneers

Matthew and George Culley of Walworth near Darlington settle at Fenton near Wooler in Northumberland developing the famous Border Leicester breed of sheep.

1767 – Bowes Lyon

Mary Eleanor Bowes of Gibside marries the Earl of Strathmore, whose surname is Lyon. They adopt the surname Lyon-Bowes which later becomes Bowes-Lyon.

1767 – Bewick and Beilby

Engraver Thomas Bewick begins his trade as an apprentice to Ralph Beilby in Newcastle.

Mar 17, 1767 – Pit disaster at Fatfield

Thirty-nine lives are lost in a mine explosion at Fatfield near Washington. A similar explosion had occurred hereabouts in 1708.

River Wear at low tide, Fatfield
River Wear, low tide, Fatfield. Several collieries clustered nearby in the 1700s © David Simpson

April 1768 – First recorded ‘strike’

The first ever use of the word ‘strike’ in the English language in relation to an industrial dispute, is recorded. Sailors in Sunderland protesting for better wages threaten to ‘strike’ the topsails of merchant ships, disabling their ability to sail, unless their demands for better wages are met. The shipowners give in. Wage protests spread to dockworkers and watermen in London in May, where topsails are struck. ‘Strike’ will soon come to be adopted for the stopping of work as a protest for better labour conditions or wages.

1768 – Elsie Marley

Elsie Marley, landlady of the White Swan, Picktree near Chester-le-Street falls to her death in a coal pit. She has been the subject of a folk tune.

1768 – Pottergate Tower

The Pottergate Tower is built at Alnwick.

Pottergate Tower gate. Alnwick
Pottergate Tower gate. Alnwick © David Simpson

1769 – Captain James Cook

James Cook, born at Marton near Middlesbrough in 1728, once lived on a farm at the foot of Roseberry Topping. He is placed in charge of HM Bark Endeavour to explore new lands. He will journey to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia where he names a great bay Botany Bay.

Captain Cook
Captain James Cook

1770 – Gateshead Highwayman hanged

Highwayman Robert Hazlett was hanged at Gateshead for robbing a lady and a postman. His body was left to hang at Beacon Lough on the Gateshead Fell.

1771 – Alnwick Town Hall

Alnwick Town Hall is built in the town’s market place.

Alnwick Market Place and Town Hall
Alnwick Market Place and Town Hall © David Simpson

Nov 17, 1771 – Great Flood

The St Hilda’s Day flood hits the North East destroying every major bridge on the Tyne, Wear and Tees. On the River Tyne, only the seventeen-arch Corbridge Bridge of 1764 survives intact, while the bridge upstream at Hexham, only just completed in 1770, was swept away. Also swept away for all time were the probable foundations of a Roman bridge at Piercebridge on the River Tees and three arches of Elvet Bridge on the River Wear in the City of Durham. The most dramatic damage was to the bridge across the Tyne at Newcastle, most of which was swept away along with its shops and houses.

The Tyne Bridge after the 1771 flood

1772 – Temporary Tyne Bridge

A temporary bridge is built across the Tyne at Newcastle following the destruction of the old bridge in November last year.

Bessie Surtees
Bessie Surtees elopes with John Scott

Nov 18, 1772 – Bessie Surtees elopes

Against her father’s wishes, Newcastle merchant’s daughter, Bessie Surtees elopes with the future Lord Chancellor, John Scott after escaping by a ladder from her bedroom window.

Bessie Surtees window, Newcastle
Bessie Surtees window, Sandhill, Newcastle © David Simpson

1772 – Cook voyage

Middlesbrough-born Captain James Cook sets sail on a second voyage in search of the great southern continent, sailing as far south as the Antarctic Circle.

1773 – Greta Bridge

Greta Bridge is built across the River Greta, a tributary of the River Tees near Barnard Castle.

The bridge at Greta Bridge
The bridge at Greta Bridge © David Simpson

1774 – Backhouse Bank

Quaker businessman James Backhouse and his sons Jonathan and James establish a bank in Darlington’s High Row. In the nineteenth century it would merge with other prominent banks of Quaker origin to become Barclay & Co.

1776 – Assembly Rooms

The Newcastle Assembly Rooms are built by William Newton on Westgate Road.

Newcastle Assembly Rooms © David Simpson

Aug 21, 1776 – Postman executed

A South Shields postman is executed for stealing a letter containing two £50 notes from Newcastle Post office.

1777 – Trevelyans at Wallington

Wallington Hall passed into the hands of the Trevelyan family. It will come to be be associated with three famous British historians: G.M Trevelyan, George Otto Trevelyan and George Macaulay.

1777 – Prebends Bridge

The present Prebends Bridge is built across the River Wear in Durham City with its great views of Durham Cathedral.

Prebends Brudge, Durham
Prebends Bridge, Durham © John Simpson

Dec 8, 1778 – Chaytor’s Haugh mine disaster

Twenty-four lives are lost in an explosion at the Dolly Pit of Chaytor’s Haugh Colliery between Chester-le-Street and Washington.

1779 – James Cook killed in Hawaii

Captain James Cook’s third great sea voyage ends in disaster when he is killed on Hawaii following an affray between his crew and natives.

Aug 16, 1779 – Sea skirmish

An engagement takes place ofAlnmouth between a British man-of-war called Content and two French privateer ships which lasted for two hours before the French make off.

Sep 23, 1779 – American bombs Alnmouth

American Privateer John Paul Jones bombs Alnmouth from his boat just off the coast to support American independence.

Alnmouth © David Simpson

1780 – Beamish wagonway

Beamish Wagonway is built linking Durham collieries to Fatfield and Chatershaugh on the Wear.

1781 – New Tyne Bridge

A new bridge of stone has been built across the Tyne at Newcastle following the destruction of the earlier bridge in the flood of 1771. A temporary bridge has been in place since 1772.

1781 – Wallsend Colliery

‘Russell’s Wallsend Colliery’ opens, named from its owner and main investor William Russell, a Sunderland merchant. This proved to be a very lucrative colliery producing fine coal that came to be a benchmark for quality coal.

1782 – Howick Hall

Howick Hall in Northumberland is built by Sir Henry Grey and designed by William Newton of Newcastle in the Palladian style of the architect James Paine.

1782 – Marsden Grotto

Quarryman ‘Jack the Blaster’ blasts a home at Marsden Rock.

Marsden Bay
Marsden Bay © David Simpson

1782 – Hawks buys Bedlington works

William Hawks of Gateshead and his brother-in-law, Michael Longridge buy the Bedlington Iron Works.

1784 – Mosley Street

Mosley Street, named from Newcastle alderman Edward Mosley is completed by architect David Stephenson in Newcastle.

1785 – Durham History

William Hutchinson publishes the first volume of his History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham. Further volumes will follow in 1787 and 1794.

1787 – Cutlers Hall at Shotley Bridge

The Cutlers Hall is built at Shotley Bridge by the Oley family, who are descendants of German swordmakers who settled in the area at the end of the previous century.

Cutlers hall Shotley Bridge
Cutlers hall Shotley Bridge © David Simpson

1787 – Pitmen

Approximately 7,000 coal miners work in the mines of Northumberland and Durham by this time.

1787- Flax spinning machine

A new method of spinning flax has been invented at Darlington by John Kendrew. Developing a machine in conjunction with a local clockmaker, Kendrew’s machine is the first effective mechanical means of spinning flax. In 1776, Kendrew had also developed a machine for making spectacle lenses at his water mill on the River Skerne.

1787 – Dean Street

Dean Street in Newcastle is completed by the architect David Stephenson. It follows the dene or valley of the Lort Burn. The streets of High Bridge and Low Bridge recall bridges across the stream.

Dean Street, Newcastle
Dean Street, Newcastle © David Simpson

1787 – Theatre Royal

Newcastle’s Theatre Royal (not the present one) is established in Drury Lane off Mosley Street.

Mosley Street
Mosley Street: the alleyway you can see just behind the traffic lights at the centre of the picture is Drury Lane.© David Simpson

1787 – Glass Works

Lemington glassworks opens. Glassmaking is an increasingly important Tyneside industry (the former glass cone pictured here at Lemington dates from 1790 and channelled air for heating the furnace).

Lemington glass cone
Lemington glass cone dates from the 18th century © David Simpson

1788 – Whitby Town Hall

Whitby town hall is built by Jonathan Pickerell.

Whitby's tiny market place
Whitby’s tiny market place © David Simpson

1788 – Blyth highlight

The ‘High light’, lighthouse is built at Blyth.

Blyth High Light.
Blyth High Light © David Simpson

1789 – Mary Eleanor Bowes divorces Stoney

Mary Eleanor Bowes of Gibside divorces Irish Lieutenant Andrew Robinson Stoney, known as ‘Stoney Bowes’. The marriage was something of a national scandal owing to Stoney’s constant troubles with debt.

1789 – Willington Quay Ropery

William and Edward Chapman establish a ropery at Willington Quay.

1790 – Bewick’s book

The Newcastle engraver and naturalist Thomas Bewick publishes his famed work The History of Quadropeds.

1790 – World’s first lifeboat

William Wouldhave and Henry Greathead invent the first lifeboat called The Original, at South Shields.

Lifeboat, South Shields
Memorials to the invention of the lifeboat, South Shields © David Simpson

1790 – Shire Moor enclosures commence

Enclosure of the Shire Moor has begun. The moor is common land and is named from having once belonged to Tynemouthshire.

1790 – Sunderland shipbuilding

By 1790 Sunderland was building around nineteen ships a year.

1790 – Monkwearmouth Hall destroyed

Monkwearmouth Hall at Sunderland, the home of a prominent local family called the Williamsons is destroyed in a fire. The family move to Whitburn.

Dec 9, 1790 – Stockton earthquake

Residents of Stockton report a great earthquake.

1791 – Winter’s Gibbet

William Winter, a gypsy is hanged at Westgate in Newcastle for the murder of an old woman, called Margaret Crozier, who lived in near Elsdon in Redesdale. Winter’s body will be left to hang nearby at a specially erected ‘gibbet’.

Winter's Gibbet, near Elsdon
Winter’s Gibbet near Elsdon in Redesdale © David Simpson

1791 – Clayport Gate

Clayport Gate, a feature of Durham City’s ancient medieval walled defences, where the street of Claypath joins the Market Place, is removed.

1792 – The Factory

‘The Factory’ is built at Castle Eden in County Durham. It is an extensive spinning and weaving mill works established by Rowland Burdon and run by the Salvins of Croxdale and will make corduroy and sail cloth, employing 200 men, boys and girls.

'The Factory' Castle Eden
‘The Factory’ Castle Eden © David Simpson

July 17, 1792 – Sedgefield hailstorm

Sedgefield’s streets are filled with two feet of hail damaging many houses and windows.

Sedgefield © David Simpson

1793 – Lit and Phil

The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne is founded.

1793 – Laing Yard

Philip Laing establishes a shipyard at Monkwermouth. It will later move across the River Wear to Deptford.

Jun 11, 1794 – Harraton Colliery disaster

Twenty-eight lives are lost in a mine explosion at Harraton Colliery near Washington.

1796 – All Saints Newcastle

Architect David Stephenson completes All Saints church near the Newcastle quayside. It replaces an earlier Norman church that stood on the site.

All Saints church, Newcastle from Silver Street
All Saints church from Silver Street © David Simpson

1796 – Press Gang raids at North Shields

Press gang raid are a frequent fact of life at sea ports like North Shields. In one raid at North Shields this year 250 mechanics and seamen were pressed into service against their will. The port was cordoned off by troops.

Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields.
Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields © David Simpson

1796 – Russell of Brancepeth

Brancepeth Castle is bought by William Russell of Newbottle, a Sunderland banker and coal owner, whose mines include the famous Wallsend Colliery. The Brancepeth Russells become one of the wealthiest coal owning families in the region. William’s son Matthew, will become the richest commoner in England.

Oct 11, 1797 – Nailing colours to the mast

Sunderland sailor, Jack Crawford becomes an instant national hero at the naval Battle of Camperdown off the coast of Holland. The flag on the mast of the Admiral’s ship The Venerable was shot down. Jack climbed the mast as the Dutch continued to fire upon him and nailed the flag back to the mast.

Jack Crawford nailing his colours to the mast, Mowbray Park
Jack Crawford nailing his colours to the mast, Mowbray Park, Sunderland © David Simpson

1798 – Brine from the mine

John Losh and the Earl of Dundonald take out a lease on the rich supply of brine pumped out of Walker Colliery on Tyneside. Brine can be used in the making of salt and alkali and Walker will take on an important place in the development of the Tyneside chemical industry.

1799 – The Durham Ox

A huge castrated three-year-old bull bred by Charles and Robert Colling of nearby Ketton Farm is exhibited in Darlington before going on a tour of the country. Known as the Durham Ox, it will have several pubs named after it and will reach a peak weight of 270 stone.

The Durham Ox
The Durham Ox

Oct 11, 1799 – Colliery disaster at Lumley

Thirty-nine lives are lost in a mine explosion at Lumley near Chester-le-Street.

👈 Queen Anne19th Century 👉


Coal Mining and Railways | Shipbuilding | Chemicals and Glass 


North East England History and Culture