Tyne and Wear HER(4552): North Shields, Salt Pans - Details
North Shields, Salt Pans
The salt industry at North Shields was greatly encouraged by the use of salt in the preservation of fish. Tomlinson and Richardson suggest that there were salt pans on the site of the later Clifford's Fort which worked from c.800 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and that the Pow Pans were still making salt in the reign of Elizabeth. Gibson refers to the accounts for the demesne lands at North Shields in 1539 where the rent dor 4 pans at Shields is included in the rent for the farmer of the demesne lands. The seventeenth century salt pans at North Shields belonged to the Earl of Northumberland and the Milbourne family (who owned the land sold to the Board of Ordnance in 1672 for building Clifford's Fort). In 1631 the 'Pow Pans' were leased for 21 years to Sir John Melton and Ralph Reed. In the C17 there were also salt pans along Bell Street. By the first half of the C17, the salt works at North Shields reputedly produced more than any other in England, helped by the cheap local coal for the furnaces. In 1635 Brereton described a newly-erected salt work at North Shields as having 24 pans, each with a brick furnace underneath, a chimney to conduct heat and smoke above, all contained within a stone and timber building. Elsewhere the pans are described as being of rivetted iron plates and measuring 15' by 10'6". The process began with salt water flooding a brine pit at high tide and being then pumped through lead pipes into the pans. The salt water was tipped into the topmost pan and boiled, the resulting brine being progressively tapped into the lower pans until salt remained. By 1707 the Pow Pans had long been disused, but there were still 27 in use on Bell Street. 60 years later all of the salt pans on the Duke of Northumberland's land had been dismantled and built over. Despite this, as late as 1768 Daniel Defoe remarked on the amount of coal used by the pans and described smoke from the furnaces as being visible south of Durham and from the Cheviot Hills.
<< HER 4552 >> W.W. Tomlinson, 1888, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland, p 45 W.S. Gibson, 1861, The History of the Monastery at Tynemouth, p 223 MA Richardson, (ed) 1844, Notes of a Journey through Durham and Northumberland in the year 1635, by Sir William Brereton Bart, in Reprints, Vol 7 HHE Craster, 1907, A History of Northumberland, The Parish of Tynemouth, Vol VIII, p. 306, 310 Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2003, Fish Park, North Shields, Archaeological Assessment; Tyne and Wear Museums, 2004, Bilton Buildings - Archaeological Assessment