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Tyne and Wear HER(7649): Birtley, West Row, No. 12 - Details

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Birtley, West Row, No. 12






Early Modern


Extant Building

This homely, rustic dwelling was originally the southern end of a long terrace of cottages at Portobello. It appears from the historic mapping that these may have been present for some time, as the arrangement is rather informal, and the important use of the wonderful rustic pantiles suggests a relatively early date. However, the frontage under the paint, is of (what appears to be) snecked stonework, which was normally employed later in the 19th century. The rubble-built side of the cottage is so heavily obscured by cement mortar as to give nothing away, save for a slight leaning out of the walls, which indicate that the roofing material is original, as it would have been heavier than, for example, heather thatch. The remains of the adjacent cottage show that the deep rear wall was solidly built of stone, whereas the front was of brick. This could indicate that the houses had been refronted – potentially offering an explanation for the unusual combination of pantiles with snecked stonework. If this was the case, it would also explain why the window openings are so regular and do not show any signs of alteration, as an old cottage could be expected to (it would have normally had smaller, less regular windows). A strange rendered extension, with new pantiles, has been added to the front of the house, incorporating raised gables in imitation of the upper wall left from the adjacent terrace on the main building. Also, what looks a coal house in brick and slate, with adjacent brick round-topped boundary wall, has been added to the front at some time, although it is not depicted on any mapping. It appears to be of around the later 19th or early 20th century, and the necessity of adding it may indicate that the building was relatively early in that it was not built with a coal house. In summary, the building is intriguing, and of some historical importance as well as rustic charm. FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS It would be positive if more research could be undertaken on the house, for example n terms of historic mapping before the Ordnance Survey, to ascertain a better construction date. MATERIALS Sandstone (painted), clay pantiles DATES Early 19th century? LOCAL LIST




Gateshead Council Local List X20/LL/283

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