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Tyne and Wear HER(8424): Blaydon Burn, retaining wall - Details

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Blaydon Burn, retaining wall

Blaydon Burn





Early Modern



An extensive stretch of retaining wall which defines the north side of the central waggonway (14). This feature does not appear as a distinct wall line on the historic mapping until the 1914 (OS 3) although parts probably date to the foundation of the waggonway in the early 19th century. The wall shows multiple phases of build and re-build along a length of some 250m running from southwest to northeast. It starts at the point where the upper wagonway (24) joins the central track (Plate 28) and continues northeast until just before building (27). The wall incorporates a large number of different builds and it is difficult to determine an original phases running along the whole length. Instead the wall appears to have been built in a piecemeal fashion to meet the changing demands of the industries in the area. At the south western end the wall is very similar in form to retaining walls found elsewhere at this end of the site (Plate 28). It was constructed of sandstone rubble, fairly regularly coursed with some squared blocks. This is replaced by brickwork further to the east (Plate 32). The brick walling is largely constructed of firebrick, bonded quite randomly but tied through at certain points by a short line of header bricks. In some areas large holes have appeared in the brickwork which has exposed the construction as being some four courses thick set back into the bank. The wall was topped by a course of concrete coping stones. In between the brick and sandstone builds the front of the feature has been faced with shuttered concrete (Plate 32). These of three forms of build are repeated at various stages along the length of the wall (Plate 33). In parts the wall is quite haphazardly built incoporating a range of bricks, unworked or worked stone and concrete. In general it measures approximately 2.50m high although it increases in height gradually towards the north eastern end. At this point the wall protrudes out from the valley bank to form a narrow platform and increases in height to over three metres. Approxmately 20 metres southwest of the northeastern end of wall (26) are the remains of the coal drop (28) (Figure 15). Just southwest of this is a flight of stairs providing access from the central track to the platform above (Plate 34). The wall build here incoporates more regular squared sandstone blocks with a series of square drainage holes spaced evenly along the surface. The bricks steps leading to the upper platform have clearly been inserted at a later date, probably when the coal drop was added. Northeast of the coal drop the retaining wall becomes quite different in form from that elsewhere. There is a concentration of large worked sandstone blocks which appear clearly to have come from an earlier building in the vicinity (Plate 35 and 36). The masonry blocks are worked with a rusiticated face surrounded by a plain drafted border. They varying in size, the largest measuring 1.05 x 0.45m, and a number included circular indentations, presumably from when they were lifted for use in the present structure as the holes largely appear on the worked 'finished' side. One stone includes a rectangular Lewis hole and two others included a 'benchmark' carving, probably a mason's mark (Plate 37). In addition to the worked masonry blocks, this section of wall is largely constructed of rectangular stone blocks which featured a central 'v' shaped groove (Plate 38). These stones have been obviously re-used but there original function is not known. Each has a width of 0.15m but vary considerably in length and the majority appeared to be broken off from something much larger. The end of the retaining wall has been strengthened by masonry clearly added at a later date (possibly quite recently). This is very finely jointed and mortared unlike the stonework found elsewhere in the wall. The short return wall (east facing) behind the masonry faƧade was brick built and adjoined a 10m, south facing, brick e




Northern Archaeological Associates & Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2005, Blaydon Burn, Gateshead - Archaeological Desk Based Assessment and Building Survey of Industrial Structures

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