Research Day 2 Tuesday 4th April – Tyne & Wear Archives

Cat Peters has provided an update on the second research day which took place at the Tyne & Wear Archives on April 4th 2017.

After an initial introductory session by Alan Hayward, archivist at Tyne and Wear Museums, the research on Tuesday 4th initially focused on the records of the River Wear Commissioners, in the hope that more detail could be found relating to the quote from the Francis Whellan book of 1894 that remains of the bridge had been found, “notably in 1865, when the workmen of the River Wear commissioners took up and destroyed the foundations of it” (Whellan 1894, p805).

There are many, many records of the River Wear Commissioners (TWAS 202), a massive volume indexing pages and pages of material, so the search was cut down to focusing on around the year 1865. These records included Management Committee Minute Books, 3rd July 1861- 7th Feb 1866 (TWAS 202/1008), in which a ‘Mr Briggs’ was mentioned “intimating that he proposes using his Saltgrass at Hylton for Shipbuilding purposes” in minutes dated 23rd September 1863 (see attached image ending 014). Cat was initially worried that this Briggs, and possibly ancestors may account for the naming of this area of the River as Briggstones and have nothing to do with a structure…

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The Board Minute Books, 10th August 1859- 3rd December 1873 (TWA 202/1014) did state in minutes relating to a meeting on 28th June 1865, page 282, from the Traffic Committee, the following “we have felt obliged in consequence of the great accumulation of mud in the Dock to call the attentions of the Works Committee to the immediate necessity of a thorough dredging otherwise we cannot but fear the Traffic of the Dock will be much impeded”.  

In minutes if a meeting of 26th July 1865, the Works Committee “report that we have accepted the tender of Messrs Samuels and H. Morton of Leith for a new 50 horse power dredger for £14,993 which has to be ready for Work by the month of April next”.

The River Wear Commissioners Minute Book, annual meetings July 1843- March 1971 (TWAS 202/1106), unfortunately had no listings for the year 1865, and nothing of relevance was listed in the 1864 River Survey.

A Mr Briggs was again mentioned in 1871 relating to dredging in the Engineers Letter Books, July 1865 to December 1873 (TWAS 202/1596), but no further details were given.

Interesting extracts from the Annual Dredging Papers, 1852- 1868 (TWAS 202/2186) included dredging occurring in the following years at the following places:

1853 – rock at bridge – 880 tons
1854 – rock at bridge – 490 tons
1855 – ferry boat track – 1,100 tons
1856 – bridge – 2,170 tons
1857 – bridge channel – 8,110 tons
1858 – rubbish & etc., from bridge rock – 972 tons
1858 – bridge channel – 9.180 tons
1859 – bridge channel – 6,790 tons

Annoyingly there were no dredging records for the years 1860 to 1865, and no further details of exact location of dredging, or of the material removed.

In a volume labelled, ‘Old plans’ c.1750 – c.1800 (TWAS 202/614), a plan dating to 1756, Catsceugh to Suddick, by Isaac Thompson was lodged (see attached image ending 016), as was Reid’s Plan of the River Wear of 1898 (see attached image ending 021). 

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A copy of the First Edition Ordnance Survey map, 6” edition, of 1862 was also taken (image ending 024), as was a copy of the Second Edition Ordnance Survey map, 25” edition, of 1861 (see attached image ending 029).

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Our volunteer researcher,John came to the rescue again with a text message suggesting we should look at reference TWAS DT.BEL/1/89- Estate details of Hylton Ferry Farm etc, 1796-1804, and this was copied too (attached images ending 039 and 041).

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Back to the River Wear Commissioners documents, and Engineers Reports and Papers, January to June 1865 (TWAS 202/2560), but these only actually went up to 1859!  (see attached image ending 048)

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There was also ‘Sections of the River Wear from Biddick to the Sea, c. 1881, which is annotated ‘Hylton Bridge Stones’ to the east of ‘Hylton Ferry’ (see attached image ending 001).

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Nothing was labelled on the Plan for the Improvement of Navigation of the River Wear, Wreath Quay and Hylton of 1852 (see attached image 007)

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This brought to an end the second day of research.