The real Barras Bridge and Newcastle’s beautiful lost dean

Imagine a deep ravine slicing across the Great North Road next to the Civic Centre, replacing concrete and tarmac with a beautiful tree-lined dean. Well, it’s not fantasy – this was Pandon Dean (or Dene – spelling varied). Much of the dean was still there well into the 19th century, and some of it survived into the 20th century. At its widest parts, the dean was as broad as Jesmond Dene, probably wider.

In present-day terms, the dean cut across the Great North Road from beside Claremont Buildings (on the left of the photo) to the gardens in front of the Civic Centre. It continued in a broad arc on the east side of Newcastle, down to the Tyne.

This little bridge – the original Barras Bridge – was Newcastle’s link with the main road to the north. The bridge crossed Pandon Burn low down in the dean. It’s shown here in 1788, shortly before it was rebuilt to a design by the Newcastle architect David Stephenson, in 1789. John Baillie described the changes in his An impartial history of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne of 1801:

This bridge, over a steep dean, was formerly narrow, ill built, and in dark nights dangerous to passengers, especially on horseback. Of late it has been widened about double its former extent, with a flagged foot way on each side, and is now made exceedingly convenient.

Once I heard that there is a still part of old Barras Bridge in Pandon [Burn] Sewer, about 3 metres below the present roadway, I was keen to see what it looked like. This is David Stephenson’s bridge, I believe, and I’m grateful to the City Library Local Studies staff who helped me obtain this photo from an old negative (City Engineer’s Photographic Section, Pandon Sewer 860/4, 1968, © Newcastle City Library). There was more work on the bridge in 1819, which seems to have taken the form of burying the bridge under a raised and widened roadway, and culverting the stream (in the comparatively small arch shown at the bottom of the photo) at the same time. The wall under the bridge arch in the photo would have been part of this later work. By the time of John Wood’s 1827 map and Thomas Oliver’s slightly later map (shown further down this blog), there’s no visible evidence of a bridge left, just a wide roadway.


Path of Pandon Dean. The Civic Centre is on the left.. St Thomas’s Church is out of shot on the right

From Barras Bridge, Pandon Dean cut across the ground in between the present sites of the Civic Centre and St Thomas’s Church. The dean then curved to the left of the view in the photo, continuing eastwards towards what’s now the University of Northumbria and the motorway beyond. (John Dobson Street is in the distance, marked by a bus in the background of the picture.)

John Dobson Street, looking north to the Civic Centre.

Having walked through the Civic Centre gardens, we’ve moved into John Dobson Street, south of the Civic Centre. Pandon Dean was starting to broaden out here. A path led from the end of Vine Lane (near side of white building on the left) down into the dean. The path can be seen on this section of a map of 1833 by Thomas Oliver (John Dobson Street didn’t exist at the time).

Detail from Thomas Oliver’s map of Newcastle, 1833

John Baillie described walking from Vine Lane into Pandon Dean in his An impartial history of 1801:

…there is a handsome lane called Vine lane … passing down into what is called the Dean or Pandon dean, we … have … a small stream, with a pleasant walk; for this long winding hollow piece of ground, which was waste and wild, covered with brambles and thorns, is now totally converted, by the hand of industry, into a vast number of pleasant though small gardens, for the recreation of many of the industrious tradesmen of Newcastle.

This part of the dean was still there 90 years after John Baillie wrote his account. If we had walked down the path from Vine Lane into Pandon Dean, and then turned around to look back, this is the view we would have seen. This reproduction (apologies for the 1890s repro quality) of a picture by Robert Jobling was used to illustrate an article by R.J. Charleton in The Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend in 1890 (Newcastle City Library Local Studies). Charleton wrote:

Mr. Jobling’s view … shows some of the old gardens in front of Lovaine Crescent, with the little houses in which many of the occupants lived, the mill house [of the Oatmeal Mill] in the middle distance, and St. Thomas’s Church behind.

The oatmeal mill-house is on the right of the view. We can see a fenced-off oval in the centre of the scene where the stream cut down into the dean, while the path curved down the bank. This bigger section from Thomas Oliver’s map shows how the dean extended from Barras Bridge down to the Tyne, though the part closest to the river had been covered over by that time.

Detail of Thomas Oliver’s map of 1833, showing Pandon Dean from Barras Bridge to Pandon Gate in the town wall near the Tyne

The Newcastle historian Henry Bourne, in his History of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1736), enthused about walking up the dean from Pandon Gate, which was near the Quayside:

After you are out of Pandon gate there is one [passage] on the left Hand leading to Pandon Dean, a very Romantick Place full of Hills and Vales, through which runs Pandon Burn. It is a very entertaining Walk in the Summer to Magdalen Well.

Pandon Gate was an old gateway in the town wall. It’s shown on Thomas Oliver’s map a little way to the right of All Saints’ Church, which is at the bottom left of the map. Magdalen Well isn’t visible on the map, but it was located towards the top of the dean on this map detail. R.G. Charleton mentioned that the stream from Magdalen Well joined Pandon Burn in the dean approximately opposite the end of Vine Lane.

On the map, we can also see outlines of some of the gardens that lined the banks of the dean, making it such a pleasant place. As well as being attractive, the dean was huge – at its broadest parts, Pandon Dean was about 42 metres wide.

The long valley illustrated on Thomas Oliver’s map was the main part of Pandon Dean, where people walked and enjoyed the views. A little watercolour in the Laing collection, pictured above, shows what a lovely rural appearance the dean had. However, the stream and dean actually began further west – another blog looks at Thomas Miles Richardson’s Young Anglers, Barras Bridge, showing a scene in the dean west of Barras Bridge.

At this point, we’ve travelled about half-way down the main part of Pandon Dean. This view, of The New Bridge Pandon Dean 1821, was published in Eneas Mackenzie’s Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1827). It was engraved by John Knox from a painting by John Lumsden. According to The Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore And Legend, which published a sketchier version in 1890, this scene was:

taken from near the foot of the steps which used to lead down from Shieldfield at the end of the lane called “the Garden Tops.” It was painted by John Lumsden in 1821, and shows the old water corn mill, afterwards the Pear Tree Inn, the town in the middle distance, and the Windmill Hills at Gateshead beyond.

This painting is so similar to John Lumsden’s view in the print that it’s probably also his work. John Lumsden (1785-1862) was a landscape, portrait and animal painter of St John’s Lane in Newcastle.

The view is dominated by the New Bridge of 1812. All Saints’ Church is in the centre of the scene, behind the bridge. St Nicholas’ Church (now Cathedral) is on the right of the picture. Windmill Hills in Gateshead are in the distance, topped by several windmills. The River Tyne is not visible in this painting as it’s hidden in the valley between Newcastle and Gateshead.

I thought I would see if I could get a snap of a modern view of the scene in the painting, and this is what it looks like now – it’s the A167 Central Motorway East. The modern New Bridge Street raised roundabout (almost hidden by the far foot-bridge in the photo) crosses the road at roughly the same place as the New Bridge crossed the dean. All Saints’ Church is visible on the left.

Zooming into the picture, we can see people strolling by the burn and enjoying the beauties of the dean. These were described in an old song, published in Newcastle in 1826, fairly soon after the New Bridge was completed:

The shrubs and flowers, sae fresh and green… the burn  That wimples through the bonny Dean.

The New Bridge was built where the dean narrowed again. The depth of the dean in this area was about 70 feet (roughly 21.5 metres). This was the height of the Pandon Dean Embankment, built for the Newcastle and North Shields Railway in the 1830s, a little way south of the New Bridge (recorded by The Railway Times in 1839).

Looking through the left arch of the bridge in the painting, we can see yet another mill – the mustard mill.

The New Bridge marked the beginning of a period of change for Pandon Dean and the area further east. The bridge was built by the Newcastle master mason John Reed. In a footnote in his Historical Account, written at the time of Reed’s death in 1820, Eneas Mackenzie noted:

Mr. Reed … was the only regular-bred master-mason in Newcastle in his time. [He suffered financial difficulties after building the bridge] … in consequence of the trustees being unable to pay for the work. A great part of the expense of the building still remains due; but the interest is regularly paid.

The cost of the bridge was £7448, 12 shillings and 10 pence, and building was started in 1811 and was completed in 1812, according to Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831. People had to pay tolls to use it, and it joined with the Newcastle to North Shields Turnpike road. It led to increased development in the Shieldfield and Byker areas.

On the right of the painting, we can see Newcastle’s ancient architectural heritage in the form of the castle, St Nicholas Church, and the town-wall fortification of Plummer Tower. This is the cylindrical tower with its blue-slate pointed roof at the end of the New Bridge, on the right of the picture.

Plummer Tower was built in the late-13thcentury and is still standing in Croft Street, off Market Street, fairly close to the Laing Art Gallery (the rectangular building on the right was added a lot later). The dean was a natural defensive barrier, and the town wall was built on its upper edge on the east side of town (the wall took in a short stretch of the dean that originally existed close to the Tyne).

The New Bridge lasted just over 50 years. It was removed in 1865 due to the filling up of the dean – its demolition was recorded in the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870-72. The trains of the Blyth & Tyne Railway occupied this part of Pandon Dean in the second half of the 19th century, and The Monthly Chronicle commented that the ‘shriek of railway whistles’ had replaced ‘the sweet songs of birds’.

TWCMS_J3172.1 1887 top Pandon Dene w N Bridge StThis is a section of a map produced in 1887 (the red line shows the most direct route from Central Station to Exhibition Park). The Blyth & Tyne Railway’s New Bridge Terminus was just north of where the New Bridge had stood. On this map detail, we can also see the area of Pandon Dean that still remained below Lovaine Crescent – it’s this area that Robert Jobling drew for the picture illustrated in The Monthly Chronicle (reproduced towards the beginning of this blog). Streets and railway lines have replaced most of the dean, however.

There is a fascinating later map – Thomas Oliver’s 1830 map overlaid with the outlines of streets and buildings of 1909 – which shows that small parts of Pandon Dean remained even in the early 20th century, including the gardens of Lovaine Place, near the present Civic Centre (Oliver’s plan of Newcastle, 1830, modified 1909, Tomorrow’s-history website – this map can be zoomed to see details.)

A photograph of Pandon Dean, taken prior to the building of the motorway and the New Bridge Street flyover, shows the remains of the dean’s railway use (the railway lines either side of the New Bridge area had been joined in 1909.)

This photo was taken by Newcastle photographer Jimmy Forsyth, and records excavations of Pandon Burn in the 1990s in the Stockbridge and Broad Chare areas. The Tyne Bridge is visible in the background. The dean skirted the east side of the mound on which All Saints’ Church stands, which is just out of shot on high ground to the right. (Jimmy Forsyth’s negatives are now held by Tyne & Wear Archives.)

Pandon Dean near the Quayside had been filled in at a very early date, and the burn channelled in a pipe. Pandon Burn originally entered the Tyne between Broad Chare and Love Lane. Part of Pandon Bank can still be seen at the end of Broad Chare(now widened). You can see it just below the street marked New Pandon roughly in the centre of the map section below, which is again from Thomas Oliver’s map of 1833 An illustration of Pandon Gate in the town wall as it looked in the early 19th century can be seen here, in an illustration in Newcastle Libraries Flickr stream.

Detail of ‘Newcastle upon Tyne in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth’, 1852 by John Storey (1828-1888). Given by the Port of Tyne Authority, 1998


John Storey painted this scene of Newcastle in 1852, carefully reconstructing its appearance as it would have been 300 years earlier from evidence known in Victorian times. It shows Pandon Dean on the right of the scene, with All Saints’ Church on higher ground to the left of the dean. The painting gives us a good idea of how Newcastle was built on a series of hills with deans between them.

In 1890, R.J. Charleton wrote sadly of Pandon Dean in The Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend:

To write of Pandon Dene is like writing of some departed friend. There is a tender melancholy associated with the place … And when we think of it as it once was gay with foliage and blossom and look upon its condition of to-day, buried far beneath a mass of ever accumulating rubbish, our melancholy is not unmingled with regret…

Well, this has been quite a long tour through Pandon Dean. This blog started out as a look at the Laing’s painting of the New Bridge over Pandon Dean. However, the dean was so huge and so startlingly close to the city centre of today that it seemed a pity not to start where the main part of Pandon Dean began, at Barras Bridge. If the dean had not existed, there would not have been a conveniently blank area available for building a 19th-century railway. When that was obsolete, motorway took over part of the dean’s site. It’s intriguing to think that as a result of that development, Pandon Dean, formed by the scouring of ice in ancient times, still shapes part of the city today.

52 Responses to The real Barras Bridge and Newcastle’s beautiful lost dean

  1. Berni Arnette says:

    I found all the history of Pandon Dene very interesting and related to my family history.

    In tracing my family history, starting with Lewis Arnette in 1865 I found that he lived with other Italians in Mackfords Entry and that his children were born in Pandon Dene and Pandon Bank.

  2. Sarah Richardson says:

    Dear Berni,

    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the Pandon Dean history. There were quite few cottages in the dean, and it’s interesting to hear that members of your family had the dean as their address, though I’m afraid that the Arnette family hasn’t cropped up in what I’ve been reading. As I expect you’ve already found, the Archives have a wealth of information, and Discovery Museum is currently holding ‘What’s Your Story: Discovery Family History’ exhibition (ends May 27th), which will be touring to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens In June –

    thanks, Sarah

  3. Anthony Lewis says:

    just off city road , past the multi storey car park, there’s a street called Pandon Bank. must be near to where the dene met the Tyne.

  4. Sarah Richardson says:

    Hi Anthony,
    Pandon Bank marks the top edge of a short stretch of the eastern part of the dean, running from Pandon Gate. I’ve put a new image in the blog to show it better.
    Best wishes, Sarah

  5. Adele Wendy Fearon says:

    Fascinating stuff … stumbled upon it whilst trying to find ‘Mackfords Entry’ as a place of residence (as previous comment from Berni Arnette ) ! Looked closely at Maps but can’t find ‘Mackfords Entry’ … any ideas ?

    Thank you

  6. Sarah Richardson says:

    Dear Adele,

    The Directories kept at the Local Studies section of the City Library would be the first place to look, if you haven’t already done so. The Directories from about 1827 are on the shelf, and there’s a couple of earlier ones that the Librarians can get you. Many of the later ones are arranged by street name.
    The Local Studies library also has a copy of Thomas Oliver’s large-scale 1830 map of Newcastle, which goes into more detail than the smaller-scale 1833 version that I reproduced in the blog. I am sure the Local Studies staff will also give you any advice they can about looking for Mackfords Entry.

    The Archives section of the museum service has an online catalogue, but you’ve probably already had a look in that. They have various documents relating to the filling in of Pandon Dean.

    Good luck, Sarah

  7. steve ellison says:

    yes very intereasting comments from all, it brings back memories of playing around those areas as a kid as i lived on sandhill on the quayside

  8. Sarah Richardson says:

    Dear Steve,
    Thanks for your comment. Was Pandon Dean itself all gone by then?

  9. Luke Griffiths says:

    Wow, what a fantastic insight into the past – I had heard of Pandon Dean before and I think I saw the pictures at the Laing a few years ago but this brings it all together.

    Isn’t the internet (and its contributors) fantastic, I started with one question, why is Barras Bridge called that and look where it led me.

    Many thanks.

  10. Sarah Richardson says:

    Glad you liked the post, Luke

  11. gerald hall says:

    Very interesting Sarah,

    I am a chartered surveyor who has worked in the pandon bank area. The Pandon sewer/ culvert carrying the old burn still flows close to the old course (NWL have plans of route). I have heard the flow from within the Generator Studios ( via a deep shaft – not for the faint hearted to venture down). The Manors Station retaining walls facing the Generator Studios are built on timber piles over the valley infill and the settlement cracks can be seen on the face. They appeared shortly after the walls were constructed and additional strengthening was added to the inside of the walls – seen the old victorian drawings for the strengthening. I researched the old valley as part of proposed repairs to the retaining walls.
    I was interested in the Pandon Gate forming part of the town walls and the possible relationship with Hadrian’s wall as both must have crossed the Pandon Burn at about the same point ie just above the old tidal/ flood reach?!? There’s a challenge but it seems logical to me that if the roman wall existed in whole or part in this particular location the normans would adapt and incorporate. May have saved a bit of cash?



    Dear Gerry,
    It’s really interesting that you’ve heard Pandon Burn running at the bottom of a deep shaft, and also to know about the settlement cracks at Manors Station from being built on infill. I’ll refer your query about Pandon Gate and possible previous Roman crossing to my History and Archaeology colleagues, and will contact you through your email address. On a related subject, our senior manager for Archaeology, Paul Bidwell, has written about the location of the Roman fort at Newcastle, which you may find interesting -
    Regards, Sarah

    • Sarah Richardson says:

      Dear Gerry,
      Many thanks for the illlustrations of Pandon Gate that you’ve sent me and related information. I have put a link into the blog to the illustration of the gate in Newcastle Libraries Flickr stream.
      Also, I know our Senior Manager for Archaeology, Paul Bidwell, has been in touch directly with you, but for others who might like to know about the Roman wall near Newcastle, here is his reply:
      The Wall has not been seen between Garth Heads to the east and the old Hertz building at the bottom of Westgate Road (west of St Nicholas
      Building). However, in the late 1920s what appeared to be the course of the ditch in front of it was traced on either side of the Pandon valley, ie west of Cowgate and east of the Sallyport Gate. The line of the ditch west of Cowgate has subsequently been doubted. On topographical grounds, it is likely that the Wall crossed the Pandon Burn near Stockbridge, south of the line of the town wall. We can at least be confident that its line was not nearer the river, thanks to the large-scale archaeological excavations that preceded the building of the Law Courts and the buidings behind it.

  13. Marie Woods says:

    My ancestor was John Hindmarsh, who was a raff merchant, north end of 1787. The firm was called “Hindmarsh and Blaycock.” Would this have been in Pandon Dene or would he have been nearer the Pandon GAte area. It may be impossible to know now! This is a beautiful site and it is sad to learn how it has changed. I live in Christchurch,New Zealand and if I ever get back to the UK, I intend to visit Newcastle and Alnwick and look around Northumberland.

    • Margaret says:

      Sorry to contradict Sarah, but a raff merchant in Newcastle was a timber merchant. In Whitehead’s directory of 1778 Hindmarsh and Blaylock are in the middle of Pandon and in that of 1790 they are at the foot of Pandon. Pandon was the street which ran within the walls from Pandon Gate in an arc eastwards towards Sandgate. So quite near the Quayside where the timber would have been unloaded from incoming ships.


    Dear Marie,

    Thanks for your comment. The north end of Pandon Dean was at Barras Bridge. However, Pandon itself was an industrial area next to the Tyne on the east side of Newcastle – the town wall made a bit of a detour across the most southern part of Pandon Dean in order to take in this area. So, if your ancestor’s business was at the north end of Pandon village, then it would have been fairly close to Pandon Gate.

    I’ve had a look in the 1801 Directory for Newcastle, which is the closest we have to 1787, but I’m afraid there’s no entry for Hindmarsh and Blaycock.

    According to a web directory of old occupations, a raff merchant “sold raffia fibres, which are harvested from Raffia palm trees. The fibre could be used in the textile industry, for example making bags. An early use for raffia was the manufacture of rope”.

    Regards, Sarah

  15. Liz Ashforth says:

    Hi Sarah
    I found your article on Pandon Dean absolutely fascinating. The Thomas Oliver you refer to is my 3 x gt grandfather and his maps are fantastic. His eldest son, Adam Oliver, my 2 x gt grandfather lived for some time in Wilkinson Buildings which I think may have been in Pandon. Have you heard of it? I can’t find much on Adam who was an architect, civil engineer & surveyor according to various census returns, his brother was Thomas Oliver junior, architect.
    Regards, Liz

  16. Sarah Richardson says:

    Hi Liz

    For anyone interested in early 19-century Newcastle history, there are 2 valuable histories written at the time that are available online. These are Eneas Mackenzie ‘Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’, (1827) ( and John Baillie ‘An impartial history of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne’ 1801 ( Both mention Wilkinson Buildings, and I’ll send you the references.

    If you go to the map detail that’s the last but one image in the blog, you can see Wilkinson Buildings marked. Its name is actually written on. It’s slightly below centre and a little to the right. It’s at the left edge of Stepney Bank and at the top of the street called Pandon Bank, which slopes up diagonally from the left – at the junction of the 2 streets.


  17. Judith says:

    Fascinating! I’ve often wondered why Barras Bridge and Newbridge St are so called.

    Thank you

  18. Sarah Richardson says:

    Thanks for your comment. There’s lots of history in place names!

  19. Evelyn Goldman says:

    I found your site while looking for any info I could on 18th century Newcastle. I was looking for a quiet river area near a major port (near Scotland border) for characters in a novel I’m writing. Your information, maps, and images you shared were exceedingly helpful. Thank you!

    It’s amazing how unrecognizable the old and modern cities look except for the church landmarks. I found the side-by-side images of the motorway and the new bridge you shared unbelievable.

  20. Ian says:

    Very interesting. Fascinating to know that I walk the route of the Pandon Dene almost every day.

  21. Cindy Barris-Speke says:

    I had heard about the Barras Bridge from my father 50 years ago, who had heard about it from a cousin 30 years before that. Since my surname is Barris (spelling changed when the family came to the US) and my family were Geordies I always wanted to know more about the bridge. Who or what is it named for though?


      It’s named after the barrows (graves) of the Mary Magdalen Hospital which once stood on ground near the bridge.

  22. Ruth says:

    Hi could anyone help me, I’m working on my family tree and have a old photograph from about 1910 of my great grandfather and a group of men all dressed smart in number 51 Barras bridge I was wondering what sort of establishment it was any info would be great thanks

  23. Terry Cunningham says:

    Hi Sarah. A very interesting blog. I have learned so much from it. Now that I have finished reading it I’m a little sad to think of the dean buried under concrete for ever. R.J.Charleton said it all. Many thanks.
    PS, Re the security questions the time is fast approaching when only machines will be able to answer them!!

  24. Sarah Richardson says:

    Hi Terry,
    Thanks very much for your comment. Glad you liked the post.
    Yes, it is a bit confusing that the security question comes after the Post Comment button.
    regards, Sarah

  25. elizabeth koprowski says:

    Can’t believe I found these pictures. My ancestor was john Dixon, born in Shields, near Newcastle on Tyne in 1760. His father, — Dixon, was the “miller of Shields”, according to a letter from 1780 found in 1860 by my great great uncle in an old family trunk in St. Louis, MO, USA. My question to you is:
    Is there any history of a mill (or mills) in Shields in the 1700s that I can tie to the Dixon family? Apparently the family had a sizable home and staff to run it, so maybe you have run across the name Dixon from that time period in Shields’ history?
    Thank you


    Dear Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your message. Shields normally refers to the towns of North Shields and South Shields, on the coast, 9 miles from Newcastle. I would have thought that there would be several mills there. Because the date is so early, it’s unlikely that you’d find a directory that listed the miller at that time. However, the family might have continued in the trade and appeared in later directories. Mills were extremely important and pften produced considerable income for the owners, but tenant millers were probably not so well off. Do you know if it was a water or windmill or steam mill? By the end of the 18th century, steam mills were becoming much more common.

    The Tyne & Wear Archives online catalogue might give you some leads –

    If not, the Archives department might be able to advise where you could look further, email –

    Northumberland Record Office catalogue is online here –

    They also have sections on family history research.

    Hope this is of help.

    Regards, Sarah

  27. Jane Thompson says:

    Text is great but imagine how much better this would have been if the images had been put up in high resolution – large enough for people to actually see the detail. The internet is filling up with these tiny, over-compressed images. The maps are particularly useless – even enlarged you can see none of the detail that people actually look for in a map. Sorry but it has to be said!

    • Sarah Richardson says:

      Thanks. I’ll come back to this when I can take the time from current exhibitions and see if I can post bigger images of map details. The images are around 200kb, so not so very tiny, but I’ll see what we can do for resolution for blog images.

  28. Colin May says:

    My grandmother is descended from John Binney of the Weavers Arms on New Pandon Street and he is listed there in the 1827 Directory and he was also there in the 1841 census. Do you know of any maps/surveys which show the location of the Weavers Arms ?
    Did insurance companies in the UK have have ‘Insurance Maps’ showing locations of properties ?
    Does the council have copies of surveys of various parts of the city and do such documents form part of property deeds and thus filed with the relevant authorities ?

  29. Janet hayles says:

    I really enjoyed this blog it’s very interesting to see how our city was in days gone by

  30. Jo says:

    Sarah, this is all very fascinating stuff. I’ve been intrigued for well over an hour all down to a ‘why is Barras Bridge so called?’ question. I can now just hear old Geordies referring to graves as Barras (rhymed with marras, ie. mates, or Farahs as in trousers if you’re not local ). Being as interested in word origins as I suddenly appear to be in Newcastle history, I will now pronounce it Bah-rrass as opposed to Bah-rriss, merely to puzzle people.

    I’m now on the lookout for a Birdseye view map of Newcastle showing the dene from past the civic centre right the way through town so I can visualise it.

    Thanks Sarah,


  31. Sarah Richardson says:

    the Thomas Oliver map does show the dene from St Thomas’s church (by the present Civic Centre) down to the near the Tyne, where it was culverted). However, the map is a bit too big for me to scan as a whole, so I will have see if I can get that done.
    best wishes, Sarah

  32. Sarah Richardson says:

    Hi Janet,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Pandon Dean was a surprise to me when I found out about it, and it is interesting to see how much has changed at Barras Bridge, which was once the edge of the town.
    Best wishes, Sarah

  33. David Robertson says:

    Hi Sarah, really enjoyed your article about Barrass Bridge and the Pandon Dene. I collect old bottles and can only guess at the wonderful stuff (Not only Bottles) that was dumped into the dene when filling it up. I bet some stuff was discovered during the excavations for the Newcastle By pass around the New Bridge St area in the 1960,s. But I did not start collecting till the mid 1970,s. Just imagine all the other denes in Newcastle that have been filled in and the tremendous stuff that is lying down there

    • Sarah Richardson says:

      Dear David,
      Great to hear you enjoyed the blog. So much from daily life gets thrown away that would be fascinating now. Though it seems that a good deal of what went into Pandon Dean was spoil from the Victoria Tunnel for a coal waggonway from Spital Tongues colliery. There’s a walk for the waggonway –, and the Ouseburn Trust run tours for anyone who’s interested in the coal waggonway heritage –

  34. Sarah Richardson says:

    I’ve now posted some improved images of maps in this blog, so I hope the streets will be easier to see.

  35. Jo Bath says:

    Hi, funny question, do you have any idea what’s happened to all the material from the Tomorrow’s History page? I hadn’t realised it was gone, but I followed your link as I’m very keen to see the Oliver 1830 / 1909 overlay map you describe – and drew a blank…

  36. Sarah Richardson says:

    Dear Jo,

    I’m afraid I don’t know what’s happened to the Tomorrow’s History site, but this is the overall page –

    Tyne & Wear Archives have a copy of the Thomas Oliver 1830/1909 map of Newcastle which you’d be able to visit to see during Archives Searchroom opening hours –

    This is the online catalogue reference –'thomas oliver’)

    Good luck, Sarah

  37. Robin Houston says:

    Hi Sarah. A fascinating blog, but I’m surprised you don’t tell us about the prominent rectangular two-storey building with the blue pitched roof standing above and beyond the third arch in John Lumsden’s painting.

    This was the Clergy Jubilee School which was built in Carliol Square in 1820. It was a National school serving about 400 pupils. My great-great-grandfather, John Findley, was Master there for 16 years in the mid-19th century.

    It remained as a school until 1938, and then played a significant role in the development of Rhythm and Blues when it became The Downbeat Club. ‘The Alan Price Rhythm & Blues Combo’ were the house band there in the 1960s, and after being joined by Eric Burdon on vocals, the band became ‘The Animals’ and left Carliol Square for international fame.

    The school building was demolished eventually and its remains are buried under the Central Motorway East.

    • Stephen Davies says:

      John Findley was a well respected master – former pupils bought him a gold watch – and went on to be a clerk for St John’s church. His second wife, Mary Findley was mistress of the Clergy Jubilee girls’ school. The schools left the John Dobson building at the behest of the Charity Commissioners, and it was then used for the All Saints’ National School. The original school to occupy the building, the charity school of St Nicholas, went through a reconstitution under the provisions of the endowed schools commission and emerged as Allan’s Endowed Schools, later Dame Allan’s Schools. In the main hall of Dame Allan’s John Findley is listed as one of the masters.

  38. Dave Hawkins says:

    Brilliant really enjoyed this started by looking for Pandon Gate then read all this fantastic information.


  39. Bob Walton says:

    This was an extremely interesting history of Barras Bridge and Pandon Dene. As a small child, I witnessed the demise of Denton Dene, although it was on a smaller scale and over a shorter time span. The Burn was culverted on the North side of the A69 West Road, presumably just before WWII, and post-war the concrete pipes advanced Southwards, under the bridge at Denton Burn, and down into the deep dene. When, in 1943, at four years of age, I first attended primary school at Whickham View School, at lunch time I could cross the burn by descending the dene and jumping over it, on the way to my home in Legion Grove. Later the dene was back-filled and I could run across at high level at the bottom of Whickham View. Nowadays it is back-filled nearly all the way down to Scotswood. I wonder if there is anything concerning this in your archives?

    • Sarah Richardson says:

      Dear Bob,
      I was interested to hear of your experience of the filing up of Denton Dene. Tyne & Wear Archives is housed at Discovery Museum. This is their main webpage – which links to the Archives online catalogue search facility and the searchroom hours and location information. I will also pass your enquiry on to my History colleagues.
      Best wishes, Sarah

  40. william f cody says:

    I was born in Lovaine Place Newcastle and was told that The Pandon Dene was filled in at Lovaine Crescent but talk of it running past Vine Lane seems to send it off in a different direction,can you set me right,Thanks.

  41. Sarah Richardson says:

    Hi William,
    If we’re looking northwards towards the Great North Road, Pandon Dean/Dene came from the left through Barras Bridge and past Vine Lane, and then opened up in a big curve – and Lovaine Crescent was built on the north edge of the curve. The part of the dean below was the last area of the dean to be filled in, and you can see it on the map detail about half way down the blog. Higher up the page, you can see the the map section showing the extent of the dean from Barras Bridge to the Tyne – you can match up the curve where Lovaine Crescent would later be built below Lovaine Place.
    Hope this helps, Sarah

  42. Shaun Powell says:

    Hi, I’m researching the full extent of the Pandon Sewer. Is anyone able to provide a highlight map indicating its route/position?

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