The Georgian North

The Georgian North 1714 to 1838

The Georgian era stretches from 1714 to 1838, although the early part of the 19th Century is also known as the Regency period. Georgian times saw the onset of Industrial Revolution, world exploration and a distinct style of architecture.

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


August 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.

1715 Nov – 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 ‘Jacobite’ rebels who support James Stuart, the ‘Old Pretender’. Leading rebel, Tom Forster of Bamburgh, marches an army into England. Every Northumberland town seems to support him except Newcastle which declares for King George. Newcastle folk will then supposedly become ‘Geordies’ but in truth the term originated as the term for a miner. The Jacobite army were later defeated at Preston in Lancashire.

Capability Brown.

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.

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.

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

1719 – Sunderland becomes a separate parish

‘Old Sunderland’ near the mouth of the river achieves the status of separate parish and a church is built for the parish. Old Sunderland was previously part of Bishopwearmouth and was most commonly known as Wearmouth.

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.

Derwentcote Steel Furnace
The Derwentcote Steel furnace. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

1720 – Mustard making

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 ignores Newcastle protests

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.

St Mary's Island near Whitley Bay.
St Mary’s Island near Whitley Bay. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1722 – Customs official found dead on island

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.

1722 – Ridley mines

The White Ridley family take over mines at Hartford and Plessey in south east Northumberland and will begin the construction of coal staithes at Blyth.

Daniel Defoe

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.”

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. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1727 – Causey Arch

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

1727 – Colliery disaster at Lumley Park

A colliery disaster at Lumley Park near Chester-le-Street claims 60 lives.

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.

Seaton Delaval Hall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1729 – Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall, built by Sir John Vanbrugh from around 1718, for Admiral Lord Delaval, is completed around this time.

1736 – New teeth

A 108-year-old woman in Bishop Auckland received a new set of teeth this year.

1736 – Bourne’s Newcastle history

Henry Bourne published his extensive History of Newcastle.

Bedlington from the churchyard.
Bedlington from the churchyard. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

Curry's Point.
Curry’s Point. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

1739 – Dick Turpin hanged

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

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.

John Wesley

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.

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 the 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.

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.

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. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

1748 – Hawks works at Gateshead

The engineering works of William Hawks which is 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.

Cullercoats Bay.
Cullercoats Bay. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

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.

Blanchland. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

1757 – Mailings of Bedlington

Mailings of Sunderland purchase the iron works at Bedlington.

1759 – Shipbuilding at Howdon

Francis Hurry established a shipbuilding business at Howdon near Wallsend.

Stockton Town hall and Market Cross.
Stockton Town hall and Market Cross. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1759 – Stockton press gangs

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

Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields.
Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

Whitworth Hall.
Whitworth Hall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

1760 – Gibside Chapel

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

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 the south of the Tyne relocated to Gosforth north of Newcastle. The Brandlings are notable coal owners.

October 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.

An old postcard showing Hexham and its abbey

1761 March 9, – 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.

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.

Seaton Burn enters the sea at Seaton Sluice. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1763 – Bottle works at Seaton

John Hussey Delaval establishes a bottle works at Seaton Sluice. The following year he creates a deep 900 feet channel from the Seaton Burn to the sea to create a more direct route for shipping.

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.

July13, 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 30 keelmen and leave 53 Tyneside children fatherless.

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 – 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.

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

Mar 17 1767 – Colliery disaster at Fatfield

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

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.

Captain Cook
Captain James Cook

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.

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.

The Tyne Bridge after the 1771 flood

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.

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 18th, 1772

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

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.

1774 – Backhouse Bank

Quaker businessman James Backhouse and his sons Jonathan and James establish a bank in Darlington’s High Row. In the 19th 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.

Aug 21, 1776 – Postman executed

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

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.

Alnmouth. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1779 – American bombs Alnmouth

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

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. Russell would become the richest commoner in England and the owner of Brancepeth Castle in Durham.

Marsden Bay
Marsden Bay Photo © 2018 David Simpson

1782 – Marsden Grotto

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

1782 – Hawks buys Bedlington works

William Hawks of Gateshead and his brother 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.

Cutlers hall Shotley Bridge
Cutlers hall Shotley Bridge. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

1787 – Pitmen

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

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.

The Scotswoood Bridge and Lemington Glass Cone
The Lemington Glass Cone beyond the Scotswood Bridge : © David Simpson

1787 – Glass Cone

Lemington glassworks glass cone is used in the making of glass, an increasingly important Tyneside industry.

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.

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

1790 – World’s first lifeboat

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

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 19 ships a year.

1790 – Monkwearmouth Hall destroyed

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

Dec 9 1790 – Stockton earthquake

Residents of Stockton report a great earthquake.

Sedgefield Photo © David Simpson 2018

July 17, 1792 – Sedgefield hailstorm

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

1793 – Lit and Phil

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

Jun 11 1794 – Harraton Colliery disaster

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

All Saints church Newcastle
All Saints church Newcastle. Photo © David Simpson 2015

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.

Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields.
Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

Jack Crawford


Oct 11 1797 – Crawford nails 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.

The Durham Ox
The Durham Ox

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.

Oct 11 1799 – Colliery disaster at Lumley

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

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