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The History of Newburn

Though some claim the village's name comes from the Old English for "New Fort or Castle" (burh or burg being the Old English for fort or castle), the name is more commonly thought to have come from the Dewley or New Burn, which runs through the village. This is somewhat substantiated by the fact that the settlement was recorded as Neuburna in CE 1121, rather than Neuburh.

Newburn was originally considered to have pre-eminence over Newcastle, as Newburn was the first point up from the mouth of the river that was fordable. The Romans marked this ford with a framework of stones, and built a fort to command the crossing. The village has other Roman connections, with the route of Hadrian's Wall cutting across its northern half, before running toward Throckley. From the eighth century, Newburn was a royal vill or town, and Newcastle didn't become a more important settlement until Plantagenet times.

Between 1332 and 1974 the Percy family were associated with Newburn, and Hugh Percy was the last to inherit Newburn Manor House, which was built in the 16th century. Also in the village at this time was Newburn Hall, which was built in the 15th century.

A monument commemorating the Battle of Newburn at Newburn Country Park.

On 28 August 1640, the Battle of Newburn took place. The Scottish Covenanters, led by Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven, planted guns at Newburn to protect them while fording the river, after which they defeated the English on the south side of the river at Stellahaugh, and subsequently occupied Newcastle upon Tyne. The Scottish claim this occupation to have been the prologue to the English Civil War. The name of Scotswood, one of the manufacturing villages between Newburn and the city, commemorates one of their positions.

Newburn and nearby Lemington had always been considered among the greenest areas of Newcastle, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the majority of vegetables supplied to local markets came from Newburn and Hexham. Prior to the early 19th century, the majority of employment in the Newburn area was for fishermen, keelmen and miners.

The district has many associations with the early development of the railway. The famous engineer George Stephenson, who was born in Wylam a few miles to the west of Newburn, was twice married in Newburn Church, where his remains are interred, and worked in the Water Row pit in Newburn. The village is also the birthplace of an earlier steam pioneer William Hedley, whose first locomotive Puffing Billy was built in 1812, two years prior to his rival's first locomotive. A gravestone in Newburn churchyard marks his death in 1843. The future railway engineers Joseph and George Armstrong both lived in the village from 1824, and found their first employment at nearby Walbottle Colliery.

In 1855, William Whellan's History, Topography, and Directory of Northumberland described the banks of the Tyne at this point having extensive iron works, coal staithes, brickyards, chemical works and other manufactories.

In 1822 John Spencer established Newburn Steelworks in a small mill for grinding files, on the Dewley Burn in the north of Newburn. Over the course of next hundred or so years his mill grew to take over much of Newburn as the demand for steel boomed with the growth of railways and other industries. By the late 19th century, the works had spread to the east of the village along the banks of the Tyne to such an extent Newburn Hall was "embedded" in them. In 1916 the mill had a weekly output of 1,500 tons. Steel plates for the liner Mauretania were made by Spencers. However the industry was hit hard by the depression after the First World War and the steel works closed between 1924 and 1926, despite a large effort to raise £75,000 needed to save the works. The works' large number of 130-foot (40 m) high chimneys were demolished in 1933. A number of buildings connected with the works still stand today, although with new uses, including two large sheds which are now owned by H. Pringle, used as a large indoor scrapyard, and offices which are now used by the Multi-Lab company.

In the 1850s, the Newburn Brickworks was built as part of the North Wallbottle and Blucher Colliery Company. The works were situated near Spencer's early mill in the north of Newburn. It was connected to the colliery at Blucher by a small railway, which continued onto the staithes at Lemington. Newburn bricks were mainly used for industrial buildings such as sewers, tunnels and arches. The works closed in 1965 and demolished in 1979 to make way for a council run recycling centre. Its sister plant, Throckley Brick Works, still operates.

In the early twentieth century, around 4,000 people lived in the area. A working men's club was built, comprising a library, reading rooms and lecture rooms for community meetings. By 1925 the building was used as a dole office, and in 1990 adapted for use as a residential care home.

In 1922, Newburn U.D.C. High Street Fire Station was built. The building still stands today, but the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service moved to West Denton in December 1980.

The above information is supplied in good faith and maybe subject to further updates.


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