Tyne and Wear HER(13623): Newcastle, Stockbridge, Cobourg Stairs - Details
Newcastle, Stockbridge, Cobourg Stairs
The Cobourg Stairs opened off the south end of Stockbridge (HER 6623) and ran up St. Michael's Mount on a roughly east-west alignment. Almost all of this area was demolished around 1880-3 to make way for this embankment which carries City Road, but the lower part of the stairs still existed in 1972, the entrance being marked by a gap in the street frontage. It is possible that the Cobourg Stairs were medieval in origin. The Friary on the Mount would have found a short cut to the Stockbridge advantageous. Charleton (1885, p. 241) says 'We still find the ancient stairs mentioned in the Millbank mss, quoted by Bourne, running up from Fishergate to the monastery gardens above'. The stairs referred to by Bourne may not be the Cobourg Stairs however. The earliest cartographic evidence which shows (but does not name) the stairs is Thompson's plan of 1746. The stairs have houses on their north side. The friary mount is occupied by gardens. The Cobourg Stairs gave access to the westernmost plots, Wall Knoll gave access to the easternmost ones. In 1736 Bourne (p. 108) describes 'those stairs beside Mr Green's house at Stockbridge which led up to the gardens there, and which, were it not a wall, would lead directly from this street to the remains of the monastery'. So the stairs could not be used as a through-route to Sallyport Tower. The Cobourg Stairs are not shown on Corbridge's map of 1723 or that in Bourne 1736. They might have been omitted as they only provided a small private access route. Thompson's plan shows a northerly bend at the east end of the Stairs. This bend has disappeared by Oliver's map of 1830, and the Stairs are now straight. The 126 inch OS map of 1861 shows a narrowing of the stairs on the south open side about two-thirds of the way up. The east end of the row of houses on the stairs were demolished. It therefore appears that the upper end of the Stairs was then straightened and lengthened eastwards. Hutton's map of 1770 shows a street which was later called factory Lane running parallel to the Stairs, with houses on the north side. Oliver's 1830 map shows the south sides of Factory Lane and Cobourg Stairs as built upon. The two routeways were linked by a short north-south street later known as Craig or Craik's Alley. The name Cobourg was first recorded in the 19th century. Wood's map of 1827 shows the Stairs as 'Coburgh Place'. Oliver 1830 calls it 'Cobourg Place, Stockbridge'. The street is listed in Hodgson's street directory of 1833/4. The adoption of a name for the Stairs implies that they were then regarded as an entity independent of Stockbridge and were connected with the early 19th century urban expansion on St. Michael's Mount.
Eric Cambridge, 1972, The Cobourg Stairs, Newcastle upon Tyne in Archaeological Newsbulletin for Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland, No.2, September 1972, pp 4-6; R.J. Charleton, 1885, Old Newcastle Town, p 241; Bourne 1736; Isaac Thompson's map of Newcastle, 1746; Beilby's map of 1788; Thomas Oliver's map of Newcastle and Gateshead, 1831