Tyne and Wear HER(5946): Bensham Way - Details
The Bensham Way first appears on the 1728 plan, which shows it running from Rock Staith on South Shore southwards to a point just short of the Bensham estate boundary along Kells Lane. The plan implies it was laid by Sir Henry Liddell after 1688, but the wording is very loose. It appears again on an estate map of the mid 18th century and is still traceable on the first edition Ordnance Survey (6 inch), roughly along the present-day West and West High Streets, crossing Durham Road at Shipcote and continuing to Dryden Road. However, this way does not end at Rock Staith, but at the Old Trunk Staith, formerly the principal Riddell outlet, 150 yards above Tyne Bridge. An earlier layout can be discerned crossing High Street below the Sunderland Road corner and using the passage through the town, surviving still as East Street, to reach the river below the bridge – this was clearly the Bensham Way of 1728. At Trunk Staith, by the end of the 17th century, there were 22½ keelrooms extending along what was later King Edward Wharf, enough to handle over 2500T. Many of these must have existed by 1647 when a survey of Gateshead manor shows 18 keelrooms at Trunk and Redheugh. It remains unclear who the first Bensham Way can be attributed to, whether Sir Henry Liddell or William Riddell. A new partnership was formed in 1685 between the sons of the second Ravensworth baronet, John Rogers and Creagh. It is implied by Bennett et al (1989, 79) that this must have necessitated a general redevelopment of the waggonway and drainage, although nothing is recorded. Bensham Colliery was virtually worked out by 1720 and the eastern end of the waggonway was not worked again until after the mid 18th century. The Way did undergo several rebirths in later years, together with others, such as Sheriff Hill, Gateshead Fell and Gateshead Park Way, although they belong to a different era. It is unknown what happened to the Bensham Way in the 1720s and 1730s, although it may have remained open for collieries on Gateshead Fell.
<< HER 5946 >> G. Bennett, E. Clavering & A. Rounding, 1990, A Fighting Trade - Rail Transport in Tyne Coal, 1600-1800, vol 1, p78-80 A. Williams, 2004, A Fighting Trade - Review and mapping of routes; unpublished document for Tyne & Wear Heritage Environment Record Cole, 1808, Plan of Newcastle H. Bourne, 1736, The History of Newcastle upon Tyne, p 81; Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2001, Riverview: Greenesfield, Gateshead, Cultural Heritage and Archaeology Statement in WSP Environmental Ltd. Environmental Statement; NRO ZAN M17/197/C Clavering et. al. 1