Corner Tower

Corner Tower Faded Sign
Corner Tower Faded Sign

The City seems determined to forget about the Corner Tower, if the faded information panel is anything to go by.  Location: City Road, NE1 2HG. The best way to see the Corner Tower is to find Croft Stairs. To get to Croft Stairs walk down Broad Chare, past the Live Theatre, to the open space outside the modern office block ‘Trinity One’. Croft Stairs should be in front of you. Croft Stairs leads to the Corner Tower.

Croft Stairs
Croft Stairs


Give and Take
Give and Take at the foot of Croft Stairs

The Corner Tower, on the east side of the circuit, was constructed between 1299 and 1307 where the walls make a 90 degree change of direction from north-south to east-west to encompass the suburb of Pandon, which was granted to Newcastle in 1298.

The tower had two turrets set at right angles and a buttress to the south. Wallknoll Gate (later called Sallyport Tower) was built in 1299 as a fortified gate tower, though smaller than the six main gates, and was used by members of the Trinitarian Friary among others. It was refurbished in medieval times, and reinforced and repaired more than once during the post-medieval period.

In the surviving remains of the Corner Tower you can see sections of the original wall coming from the north, built of regular soussed stone mooring smaller masonry forming the Tower near the angle. From the Tower the Wall ran eastward down the steep west bank of the Pandon Dene to Pandon Gate, now under City Road, before rising again to Sallyport Tower on the Wall Knoll.

This was never apparently a tower in the form of those elsewhere on the Town Wall. It is little more than a larger version of the covered watch turrets placed at regular intervals, along other parts of the circuit.

Plummer Tower

The Plummer Tower once called Cutler’s Tower or Carliol Croft Tower, together with the short length of wall on its south side formed part of the eastern side of the Town Wall circuit.  The town wall ditch lay to the east.

To the east where the central motorway now runs, the ground sloped down into Pandon Dene.  To the west of the Tower, inside the Town Wall, was a large open field called Carliol Croft.  By the 18th century this was one of the largest open spaces remaining within the Walls and was described as ‘a very agreeable walk generally frequented in a Summer’s evening by the Gentry of this part of the town’.

The Tower was built in the late 12th or early 14th century and still retains its  D-shaped plan.  Only the lower part of the drum tower is medieval.  the tower was refortified at the time of the Civil War, when a stone built artillery position, called a bastion was added to the outside.  Part of this was uncovered by archaeological excavations in 1989.  the building was heightened and roofed when the tower was converted into a meeting house, first by the Company of Cutlers  in the second half of the 17th century and then by the Company of Masons around 1749 who added the elaborate western fascade.

The Town Wall to the north and south of the tower, which ran to the Carlini Tower (at the Laing Art Gallery) before being demolished in 1811.  the rubble was used in the construction of the Shields Turnpike Road.

Plummer Tower
Plummer Tower

Sallyport Tower

Sallyport Tower was one of the main defensive fortifications forming part of Newcastle’s city walls, built 1265 – 1307.

The tower was named because it was said to be used as a gateway from which the town’s garrisons would ‘sally forth’ to defend the city against Scottish besiegers. The postern gate was often used in times of siege for sallying forth (rush out from place of defence) to attack the marauding forces.

What you see today is not the full original Town Wall Tower as the upper part of it was destroyed during the 1644 siege by the Scots, the present structure is a restoration by the Shipwright’s and Carpenter’s Guild who used it to hold their meetings after it ceased to be a defensive Tower.

From the information panel
“This much altered tower stands on the line of the realigned Town Wall, built after 1298 to enclose the district of Pandon which had become newly incorporated into Newcastle.

It was probably constructed about 1307, and stood on a hill called the Wall Knoll which was part of a precinct of the first Carmelite or White Friars.  To the west, the Town Wall dropped steeply into the now infilled Pandon Dene, and beyond Pandon Gate it rose again to join the Corner Tower.  Eastwards the Town Wall curved gradually southwards to the River.

The Tower was leased by the Corporation of Newcastle to the company of Shipwrights (also known as the Carpenters), at least as early as 1638.  The Company rebuilt the upper part of the Tower in its present form in 1716.  In 1957 the tower passed back into the hands of the Corporation and was extensively restored

The Tower is rectangular, which is unusual on the Town Walls of Newcastle, where D-shaped towers were normally built.  The only other tower of similar shape was on the riverside on the western part of the circuit, probably built in the 15th century.  The present arched gateway and walling on the left belongs to the Shipwrights rebuilding.  Before this the Tower projected forward from the Town Wall and had loopholes in all three sides.  The interior has a plain vault to the ground floor chamber and is unusual in having a spiral staircase rising from this chamber to the Wall walk.”

Sallyport Heritage Panel
Sallyport Heritage Panel

Sally port - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sally port – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia primary modern meaning for sally port is a secure, controlled entryway, as of a fortification or a prison. The entrance is usually protected by some means, such as with a…

West Walls

This is the best preserved section and most substantial remains of the Medieval Town Wall.

Of the original wall towers, three can be seen from here. All have their original ground floor flat, paved roofs and battlemented parapets, apart from Morden Tower which has been changed significantly.  East of Mordern tower, the remains of  Ever Tower still survive though it is not visible from here.

From either side of the towers, ground floor chambers stairs led to the wall-walk. The wall-walk was just that, a walkway on top of the wall that provided excellent  views over the defensive ditch and far beyond and allowed for patrolling of the perimeter of the town.

Additional defence and shelter, for those patrolling  the wall-walk was provided by  the interval turrets, of which there were normally two between each tower.

From the early 17th century until relatively recent times, all the towers around the Town Wall were leased as meeting houses by the Corporation of Newcastle to the craft guilds.  Craft guilds were fraternities of workers involved in a specific trade or craft that regulated standards for their craft and promoted equality in opportunity to sell.

Herber Tower:  In the early to mid 17th century, Herber Tower was used as a meeting house by the Felt Makers, Curriers and Armourers and by the end of the 19th century it was a blacksmith’s shop.

Mordern Tower: Mordern Tower was used in the 17th and early 18th centuries as a meeting house for Glaziers, Plumbers, Pewterers and Painters.  Inside used to be a gilded ball, suspended from the ceiling, which is said to have been fired from a cannon of the Scottish army during the 1644 siege.  It is now used for readings by the world famous Mordern Tower Poets.

Durham Tower:  Durham Tower is the best preserved and least altered of these towers.  It does not seem to have belonged to a guild, but  became a military lock-up and later a coal and wood store for the adjoining school.

Ever Tower:  Ever Tower was occupied during the 17th and early 18th centuries by the Paviours, Colliers and Carriagemen and in the later 18th century, by an eccentric  known as Hairy Nanny.  Ever Tower was built by some of the ancient family of Eure or Ever,  Lords of Kirkley near the River Blyth and Barons of Whitton in the county of Durham.

West Walls at Night
West Walls at Night
Newcastle town wall – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Newcastle town wall is a medieval defensive wall, and Scheduled Ancient Monument, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It was built during the 13th and 14th centuries, and helped…

Gallowgate Lead Works

The granite mill stones that you see today are the legacy of an industry that dominated this site for almost 150 years. when it closed in 1933, the Gallowgate Lead Works occupied all the land from this point to almost the end of the town wall near the top of Darn Crook. It was a major feature of the area, and produced lead products for the paint and munitions industries.

Established in the late 18th century, the lead works was one of various commercial premises in the area. The 1863 ordnance survey shows timber yards and tanneries close by, together with a large slaughter house complex at the end of Dispensary Lane.

The white lead trade made pigments for the paint industry, and their production involved a process that changed very little since its introduction in the late 1780s. This was the Dutch Stack method of corroding sheets of lead by placing upon a bed of earthenware pots containing concentrated ascetic acid, one stack of pots and lead upon another. Insulated by leather or wood bark, the acid evaporated and turned the lead into a blue paste.

This paste was then dried in large ovens to create a dry white carbonate that could be ground into a fine powder for mixing with oil to form the finished pigment. The heavy granite mill stones found on the site when it was landscaped in 2006, were used in this process.

Another product of the lead works was lead shot. This was made by pouring molten lead through colanders and allowing the sieved lead to fall down a 200ft shaft where it cooled in water and formed the spherical lead shot used by artillery and shot guns. A description of the Gallowgate site, published in the Penny Magazine in August 1844 tells us that “when two tons weight of shot have thus fallen”. The site of this shaft is marked on the ground.

Lead shot is made from a mixture of lead and arsenic, and the Penny Magazine published a drawing of a man ladling the molten mixture from a furnace pit into the top of a colander or sieve. Other drawings illustrate the white lead process and a female worker separating finished lead shot.

The lead trade was an important industry in 19th century Newcastle. This site was owned by the Locke Blackett Company. Other sites of former white lead works were in the Ouseburn, Elswick and Walker Riverside.

The plan of the site dates from 1930, not long before the last works was closed, it shows the location of the Shot House at the south east corner of the site, near to the Mordon Tower.

Location: Western Walls, behind Stowell St, NCL

West Walls
West Walls

Orchard Street

The Town Wall turned sharply southwards from the originally intended line at a point near here now under the railway viaduct and ran down to the Close Gate and finally the river.

This stretch of the Town Wall, the section surviving today was built after 1311 and completed by about 1333 as a response to protests from townspeople living in The Close which was to have been excluded from the defensive circuit.

The Wall ran through the precinct of the Carmelite or White Friars, whose house stood a little to the east of the wall and partly under Forth Street. The Friars has a postern gate at the point where the wall angled southwards, giving them access to their land left outside the Wall.

To the west, between the Town Wall and what is now Orchard Street, lay the defensive ditch. In the 18th century this strip of ground was a walled orchard, but this was covered by small industrial premises during the 19th century. The holes left by rafters from these buildings can be seen along the face of the Town Wall.

At the south end, where the ground drops down into Hanover Street, stood the White Friar Tower. In 1614 the tower was leased by the Corporation for the Company of Wallers, Bricklayers and Plasterers, who used the building as a meeting house. The tower was demolished between 1840 and 1844.

The Wall itself was raised in height and was considerably rebuilt after damage during the Civil War siege of Newcastle in 1644. A mine was exploded under the wall close to the White Friar Tower and artillery destroyed about 52 metres of the wall near Forth Street. The wall and the White Friar Tower were put into defensive order again at the time of the Jacobite Rebellion.

Inside the Wall the Carmelite Friary site was developed with houses and gardens during the 18th and 19th centuries and became patriotically known as Hanover Square. These buildings became part of an extensive brewery complex eventually occupied by the Federation Brewery until its demolition in 1985. The large gap and infilled openings are a legacy of the brewing industries use of the site.

Orchard St Heritage Panel
Orchard St Heritage Panel

Bath Lane

This area outside the West walls of the old town was known as the Wardens Close.  According to the 17th Century Newcastle historian, Gray, the  Warden’s Close formerly contained the house and gardens of the Warden of Tynemouth Priory.

Near here in 1767, the town’s first local public asylum for pauper lunatics was built.  It was an institution of unremitting barbarity until it was taken over by the Corporation in 1824.  In 1804 a fever hospital was built between the Asylum and the Town Wall.  this was built for the ‘infected poor’  struck by typhus, a disease prevalent in the area in the first half of the 19th century.  Even in the period 1855 to 1873 there were still 273 cases of the disease being admitted to hospital each year.  The “House of Recovery”, as it was known, closed when the City Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Walkergate opened in 1888.

For many years the House of Recovery stood in the grounds of what became Rutherford College.  This educational establishment began life as Bath Lane School and was founded by Dr Rutherford in 1870.  It was demolished in 1987.

Bath Lane takes its name from the former Public Medical Baths which stood near the Fever Hospital .  The Baths were founded as a private venture in 1781, and are said to have consisted of “medicated vapour baths, ot, tepid or of Buxton temperature, together with enclosed baths for ladies and gentlemen, also a large open or swimming bath where young gentlemen acquire this necessary and useful art”.

On the west side of the modern day Bath Lane stands the former Co-operative Wholesale Society Printing Works.  easily identifiable by its tower and domed roof, it was constructed in 1890 to the flamboyant design of Frank West Rich, who was also responsible for Turnbull’s Warehouse standing above the Close and even more ostentatious, Ouseburn School in Byker.

Location: Bath Lane NE4 5RS

Recovery Hospital
Recovery Hospital