Tyne and Wear HER(17589): Newcastle, Stephenson Engine Works, railway turntable - Details
Newcastle, Stephenson Engine Works, railway turntable
Railway Transport Site
The base of an early locomotive turntable was found during evaluation trenching in April 2017 and was fully excavated in August 2017. It has been lifted and will be rebuilt outside the new University Training College in the Stephenson Quarter. The lower part of the turntable takes the form of a circular stone structure, 4.61m in diameter, built of dressed sandstone. The turntable base comprised a circular wall built of roughly faced sandstone blocks, 0.45m - 0.50m wide. The upper part was a blockwork surface of dressed granite cobbles with two socketed sandstone blocks, 1m x 0.74m, set within them, 3.94m apart and a linear stone wall running across the centre. Removal of the socketed stones revealed them to be sitting on a wooden foundation of piled posts with beams arranged horizontally upon them. Wedges were positioned beteen the beams and the stone feature. Two stone and brick drains were cut through the turntable. These probably date to after its abandonment. An electric service route, with metal plate capping cast with the stamp of Newcastle and District Electric Lighting Company Ltd, also cut through the north part of the turntable. The turntable probably dates to the early years of the Stephenson Locomotive Works (on this site from 1821). Engine building began in ernest in 1828 and expanded until the 1850s. Historic plans show the turntable in place from 1846 and it was in use until the early 20th century. It may have been constructed to accept the 'long boiler' type of locomotive engine with which the site became associated. These were patented by Stephenson in 1841. They had larger engines than earlier examples and may have necessitated more robust turntables. The method of operation of the turntable has yet to be fully resolved. The circular structure would have provided a base for a superstructure of wood and iron, upon which rails were fixed, which could be turned on rollers. The stone structure in the middle presumably supported the superstructure. The large socketed base stones presumably carried a framework for lifting gear associated with engone construction.
The Archaeological Practice Ltd, May 2018, Archaeological Evaluation and Mitigation at the Hawthorn Works Site, Stephenson Quarter, Forth Banks, Newcastle upon Tyne - Report on an Archaeological Excavation; PLB Consulting with Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2001, Conservation Plan and Archaeological Assessment; Ordnance Survey Plan, 1862 (detailed coloured version)