Tyne and Wear HER(6435): Newcastle, Gallowgate, Locke Blackett and Co. Lead Works - Details
Newcastle, Gallowgate, Locke Blackett and Co. Lead Works
Metal Smelting Site
The King's Dikes between Newgate and Warden's Close were let to Christopher Barker, tanner in 1717 and then to his son Joseph Barker in 1729. In 1730 the open areas were occupied as gardens by a Mrs Barker and a Mr Robinson. By 1734 John Clayton, merchant, had bought Barker's right in the ground. On his death the lease passed to his brother Snow Clayton. The dikes were cultivated albeit unsuccessfully. In 1792 John Soulsby assigned part of the Dykes for construction of a Poor House, but the scheme was abandoned. The rest of the lease was assigned to Christopher Blackett, a Newcastle coal and lead magnate in 1801. In the 1790s Blackett had been approached by John Locke, a London lead merchant, and the two men formed a partnership in October 1798. When Locke failed to buy the existing site at Elswick (HER 4116), the partners bought the gardens in Gallowgate in 1798. Development of the Locke, Blackett and Company's Lead Works began. By the Spring of 1799 six white lead stacks were being built, and the first two had been completed and were working by the end of June. The remaining stacks were completed in August 1799. By August 1790 work was underway on three furnaces and buildings for the manufacture of red lead. By June 1800 a Boulton and Watt steam engine had been installed to grind the red lead. In September 1800 the firm also began to manufacture lead shot - firstly at one of Blackett's colleries at Wylam, but by the 1820s at the Gallowgate works. From the outset the Locke and Blackett partnership was ambitious to succeed. Blackett obtained manure, essential as part of the manufacturing process, from the cavalry barracks on the Town Moor. They offered higher wages and better conditions than the Elswick works, thus attracting some experienced workers from the rival firm. High standards of hygiene and welfare were maintained, even a free early breakfast for employees. The scale and layout of the Gallowgate works can best be seen on the detailed plans produced by Thomas Oliver, 1830, Robert Burnett, c.1840, first edition Ordnance Survey, 1850 and the Goad Insurance Plan. Before 1830 two ponds or reservoirs had been built over the infilled town wall ditch. The shot-shaft was sunk by 1826 at the latest. The pit was 220 feetdeep and 6 foot in diameter. When two tons of shot had been dropped into the pit it was uncovered and a workman lowered down to recover it. The pit probably went out of use soon after 1906. By the beginning of the 20th century Locke, Blackett & Company were under competitive pressure due in part to the inappropriate location of the lead works, with no easy tensport link, in a developing commercial and residential area. Production of red lead and lead shot ceased in 1905. In 1928 the firm was taken over by Associated Lead Manufacturers Ltd and the Gallowgate site put up for sale. It was cleared before the start of WW1 and the site bought by United Automobile Services Ltd for a bus depot.
Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 1999, Hanro, Gallowgate Development - Archaeological Assessment; W.A Campbell, 1971, The Chemical Industry, pp 108-9; T. Oliver, 1830, Plan of Newcastle and Gateshead