Tyne and Wear HER(6635): Newcastle, The Forth - Details
Newcastle, The Forth
Gardens Parks and Urban Spaces
Bourne reports that out of the Close Gate, there is a way to the Forth, a place of pleasure and recreation. He suggests (although admits there is no evidence) that the Forth was formerly the site of a fort belonging to the castle. Mackenzie recalls that the Mayor, aldermen and sheriff of Newcastle went in procession from the town to the Forth every Easter and Whitsuntide, with all the burgesses, preceded by the mace, sword and cap of maintenance. Games of handball and dancing were enjoyed by the populace on the Forth thereafter. The Forth (or Frith in 1357 - means wood) lay outside the town walls abutting a lane called Goose Green Close on its south side. It included 11 acres of ground, surveyed by Order of Parliament in 1649. The town paid 4l to the King a year for it. In the reign of Henry III (1216-72) a licence was granted to the townspeople of Newcastle, to dig coals and stones on the Forth. These (or Castle Leases) may have been the earliest Newcastle coals. The Forth Walks (as shown on Hutton 1770) was a small part of The Forth, turned into a bowling green with a broad gravel walk and double row of trees around it. Bourne calls it "a mighty pretty place" with a "shady walk of trees" to the town wall to the east. To the west were views of Elswick village. Gray says that it was given to the townsmen of Newcastle by Edward III (1327-77). [conflicts with the earlier Henry III date].
H. Bourne, 1736, The History of Newcastle upon Tyne, p 127 and 145-6; E. Mackenzie, 1825, An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of the County of Northumberland; J. Leland, 1539, Itinerary; Hutton's map of Newcastle, 1770; L. Wilkes and G. Dodds, 1964, Tyneside Classical - The Newcastle of Grainger, Dobson and Clayton