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Tyne and Wear HER(2051): North Shields, Richardson's Tannery - Details

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N Tyneside

North Shields, Richardson's Tannery




Leather Industry Site


Post Medieval


Documentary Evidence

Richardson's Tannery, at the foot of Tanner's bank, by the side of the Pow Burn, was founded in 1766. The tannery is first shown on Fryer's 1772 map and then in a more developed form on Woods 1826 map and Rook's 1827 map. There is a reconstruction drawing of the tannery at this time by Bertram (NSLLS). On a plan of 1806 (NRO 1147/B1) the easternmost building is subdivided between 'Mr Walkers Tannery' and 'Mr Fenwicks'. It is not clear if Mr Walker's Tannery was part of the works founded by John Richardson in 1766, or a separate concern. Richardson died in 1800 but his youngest son Henry continued to run the business at Low Lights while other family members developed the Newgate Tannery in Newcastle. When Henry Proctor died in 1834, the Low Lights Tannery passed to a cousin, John Richardson Proctor, who acquired the business in 1843. In the 1851 Census, he is listed as a master tanner employing 10 men. By 1872 the tannery was managed by John R Proctor and Henry Richardson Proctor. The tannery appears on a detailed manuscript plan of 1872 which shows a 'Bark House' (the mill where oak bark was prepared for the tanning pits) and an engine house. The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map shows the open-air tan pits surrounded by long buildings containing the drying lofts. The large oblong pits were used for soaking and liming the hides and for initial tanning. The square pits were used for the principal tanning process. A row of small pits on the east side of the yard were probably used for tanning sheep or seal skins. The central part of the north range was rebuilt 18th century82 to provide storage space for bark and valonia (acorns of a Levantine oak). The yard may have been covered in. In 1888 the tannery was sold, and became Dene Saw Mill (HER 2128) and in 1901 an Electricity Works.




<< HER 2051 >> 1st edition Ordnance Survey map, 1865, 6 inch scale, Northumberland 89 J. Woods, 1826, Plan of the Towns of North Shields and Tynemouth J. Fryer, 1772, A Plan of the Low Part of the River Tyne E. Hollerton, 1997, The Archive Photography Series, North Shields, p 7 W.S. Garson, 1926, The Origin of North Shields, p 24 Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2003, Fish Park, North Shields, Archaeological Assessment J Jackson, Henry Richardson, Proctor, his early life 1848-1891, Journal Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists, Vol 77 Lease 1797, Northumberland Records Office, 1147/B9/1 and Northumberland Records Office 1147/B3 HHE Craster, 1907, The Parish of Tynemouth, A History of Northumberland, Vol VIII, p 310 1806, Northumberland Records Office, 1147/B1 Tyne and Wear Archive Service, 1872, manuscript plan CB/Ty/15/17 and CB/Ty/15/26

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