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Newburn has a long history as a village, having its origins in Saxon times as a Royal Burgh. The Percy family of Northumberland acquired Newburn in 1367. From the twelfth century the Manor of Newburn contained Newburn, Newburn Hall, Throckley, Wallbottle, Butterley and Whorlton.

Former Dole Office

The picture shows the Institute when it was being used as the “Dole Office” c1925, unemployed “signed on” for relief benefit and included miners from as far off as North Walbottle. (Pic - BYGONE Newburn, A.D. Walton)

Newburn was always an important crossing point on the River Tyne because its fords provided crossings at the river’s tidal limit. There were three fords: Newburn Ford to the west; Kelshaw Ford to the east and the Riding Ford in the middle.

Newburn went on to become a great mining and steel area with Duke Pit, Blucher Pit and King Pit plus North Walbottle and Coronation Pits also nearby. George Stephenson, the father of the railwayslived in Newburn and both his marriages are recorded in the registers of it 12th century church.

Also, the inventor of Puffing Billy, one of the first locomotives, William Hedley, was born in Newburn in 1779. Puffing Billy was used from 1813 on the Wylam Wagonway, to transport coal from the mines to the staithes at Lemington. This wagonway eventually became the Scotswood, Newburn, Wylam Railway in 1872, as a branch line for the North East Railway Company. This line closed in 1968.

In 1894 Newburn Urban District Council was formed and a new iron bridge was erected across the Tyne in time for that year’s Blaydon races. This bridge, which was a Toll Bridge until 1947, still survives.

Lemington Iron Works

The Lemington Iron Works was built in 1797 and by 1801 was very prosperous. In 1869 John Spencer from Newburn Steel Works took over and renamed it the Haematite Iron Company. In 1903 the Newcastle and District Lighting Company built a power station on the site of the Iron Works.

Coal Transportation

Coal was transported to the Lemington Staithes and transferred to keel boats that carried it further down the river to collier brigs lying below the old Tyne Bridge. Until the 17th century mined coal was carried on the backs of packhorses. Early in the 17th century wooden rails were laid down and coal was transported in horse drawn wagons. A horse could move approximately ten and a half tons of coal in one day.

Transportation links

Transportation links from steel works circa 1920  (Pic - BYGONE Newburn, A.D. Walton)

Between 1748 and 1780 waggonways were constructed to connect Wylam, Throckley, Walbottle and North Walbottle collieries to Lemington Staithes. Early in the 19th century the Tyne Iron Works and the Glass Works created more waggonways to transport both their raw materials and manufactured goods. In 1808 timber rails were replaced with iron plate-way rails and in 1827 by fish-bellied rails. Towards the end of the 19th century most of the coal was transported on the main railway lines and the waggonways ceased to be used as the main route.

By 1913 a single line tramway service ran a passenger service from Scotswood Bridge to Lemington. The route ran through Lemington just north of the glass works. This service closed in 1946.

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