Newcastle seems always over hung with a cloud of smoke, and the precipitous river banks are crowded with old tumble-down houses many of which dreary, miserable tenements as they are cluster up to the railway sides. "Illustrated London News, 16 July 1887.
Streets and buildings in the older portions of Newcastle, Gateshead, North Shields, and South Shields, the opening of the streets, lanes, and alleys in the worst districts would prove of incalcuable benefit: many of them are more or less inaccessible except by a narrow stairs dark passages and the lanes (or chares as the are termed the Newcastle) some of which are little more than 3 ft wide while the average width is seven or eight feet. Dwellings in such places must have been highly of objectionable even when they enjoy even while enjoying all the advantages which the welfare and consideration of their former occupants secured; but when tenanted by the humblest classes, struggling to often in a under the accumulated influences of poverty, disease, and vice, the present scenes which call for the most vigorous efforts of improvements, and none perhaps would be more advantages, among the many suggestions offered and the varied measures that must be introduced to meet the individually evils, than intercepting them by thoroughfares which would render them more accessible to occurrence of their and facilitated the measures of drainage and cleaning. Due to the gradient in Newcastle and the lack of sewers and drainage the newer upper parts of the town where becoming as bad as the lower parts next to the river with the exeption that when it rained the water would wash the sewage and other muck down the hill to the poorer districts.
Dwelling houses The houses that had been lived in by the wealth inhabitants of Newcastle had been occupied by a different class of people and many families would inhabit a house each room would become the accomodation for a family sometimes consisting of older parents and their married children and grandchildren all sharing a room, sometimes a family member would get out of bed to go to work as another family member returned from his or her work and go to the vacated bed to sleep. The rooms where poorly light as windows in many cases had been bricked up to avoid window tax in 1845 it was upwards of 9s. on every window above ten many of the rooms did not bring a higher rent of 50s. or 60s. per annum. Lodging Houses the lodging houses for the extremely poor are the worst places for lack of sanitary conditions here crowded together and sometimes several people sharing a bed where trampers and vagerants of both sexes would share beds these dwelling houses where seen as a breeding ground for fevers.
Saint Andrews The rooms in the houses of the lower classes are for the most part superior to the dwellings in the lower part of the town. Two circumstances mainly contributed to this condition first the number of new houses which have of late years been erected in various parts of the parish with a good-sized and well ventilated rooms, and usually abundant provision of light. Secondly, that many spacious mansions, if we may call them that former days are now let out in the tenements to the poor, and that those houses have the advantage of being constructed at a later date than those of the lower town. and because of this have more lofty rooms and create a space and ventilation. Most of the houses in the poor are of brick; a few very ancient ones in the courts of Newgate Street are of stone some a part which often the second story and a third of bricks have been subsequently raised. The houses have been subsequently burst, but some of the older ones of stone or fast decay and one or two are in a dangerous state the number of rooms in each house is usually five or six but some of the once grander houses referred often have eight or ten or even more.
Upon the whole, each room is tenanted by a separate family, so other house with five rooms will contain an equal number of familys. That average number of persons inhabiting each room is about three and-a-half on the north side of Gallowgate; it is three in Newgate Street; The greatest number found in one room was ten in Mackfords Entry; This averages included children. The greatest number and that we have found in one room has been ten; in Mackfords entry the last house of five rooms contains 29 inhabitants. The rooms on whole have good dimension and average 14 ft by 12 to 14 by 16 the smallest we have met with are in High Friar Street in the street in Stewarts building's and in Jackson's court.
About half of the homes we visited where close and stifling, not so much for one of means of ventilation as from being stolen and careless habits of those living in them. In those rooms inhabited by a Irish family in particular, where the articles of furniture or usually extremely scanty, the windows are, we think it never opened at all, and the air in many of these was the insufferably bad. some of the rooms have two windows broken window panes are filled with rags. The rooms of the ground floor of very often flagged or paved with brick, and many of them are very damp. The stairways in the houses are poorly ventilated the air is bad with noisome smells and oppresive stenches.
All Saints, the number of family has been having each house is on average a from four and a half to five. The average number inhabiting one room is from four and a quarter to four and a half. In the worst part of the parish however, we have consistantly found from six to eight persons in one room and frequently eleven and twelve. They all sleep in the same room, and the average size of the room is 12 ft by 10, and is under 9 ft high. Those of the poorest classes are at an average under eight ft-high, and they are often less than an area of 12 ft by 10 feet. The houses of the poor and generally consist of six rooms at an average, and from 26-30 persons at an average been had at one house.
Saint John's with regards to the number of families that inhabits each house, it various very much with the size. We found as many as four, five, and in one instance as many as 10. The number of inhabitants in each room vary from four to eight, in many of the cases, they had a small room boarded off. The size of the room is generally about 12 feet square some where larger others smaller.
The air in almost all rooms was very bad, from the offensive smells that preceed from the backyard, and in a great many the chimneys smoke. They have no means the ventilation accept the door and windows. The staircase windows or mostly broken or walled, and the stairs in a very bad state of repair and very dirty.
Saint Nicholas, the general state of air in the habitations of the poor work is very bad, and no arrangements made for ventilation. In four or five inner rooms of the lodging houses, there was nothing but a small skylight which did not open; and in one room not even that; in the inner rooms there were in general three beds, intended to accommodate six people.
As most of the lodging houses where the converted houses of the wealthy inhabitants of Newcastle who had moved out and up the bank to the newer developed parts of the town it was found during the inspection that the rooms on the ground floors and basements had fires and cooking stoves but the rooms in the second and thirtd floors did not as these would have been the bedrooms of the wealthier residents before they moved.
source:-Report on Newcastle Upon Tyne and other towns, by D.B. Reid Esq., M.D., printed by W. Clowes and sons, Stamford street, London, 1845.
The housing at Dudley colliery were considered good when they were first built, these first rows of the village would have been built by the colliery owners with the hope of attracting good workers to the colliery. In a report about Durham housing dated in the 1840's the floors were concert and the W.C and water supply where outside and although the cottages as they are referred to in 1873 would have been good for their time they were falling behind be the standards of 1873. In 1866 there had been housing and sanitary reforms which were meant to be enforced all over England although a report dated 1936 when the housing in Dudley was being condemned as slums the houses still had outside toilets and water from a stand pipe in the street. Some of the houses that were condemned at this time had been built in the 1870's. The village had begun to grow many of the new streets had the names of one of the families living in it for example Paterson Terrace where the Paterson family lived the occupation of this family was listed a builders and joiners. Some of the street names were named after the people who were running the corner shop on that street and I wonder if the tenants would have to purchase their food from their landlord? It could have been possible that several families could have come together to build in the area. The housing that they erected would not have been as good as that built by the owners of local industry as they would possibly have the land on a lease and would only expect their buildings to be up for a short while. They would use cheap materials to cut costs although in 1979 a row of those houses were still standing in Dudley and being lived in although they had been fitted with running water they still had an outside WC.
It would seem that one reform that did come into force was with regard to sanitation where the toilets were fitted to flush with water where before they had been ash pits. That is to say the human waste instead of being flushed away would just be covered over with ash they at certain intervals a cart would come and clear out the ash and the waste the ash was then dumped near by. In 1873 remarks were passed about the ash blowing around the streets on windy days. Traditionally the first row of houses built in a colliery village was Sinkers Row the housing of the miners who sunk the shaft for the colliery these houses had larger rooms than would be usually found in a colliery house Length 14 ft breadth 14ft10ins. The height of the rooms were 13ft 10ins although these rooms may sound large but there were only two rooms of this size to a house. With the large families of this period in 1861 there were 126 people living in the 20 houses that made up Sinkers Row that's 6.3 people per house. It is possible that the house would never be full though if the men were working shifts some of the family could always be at work. It was a common practice for people to share beds even in the 20th century one person could go off to work and another coming in from work would take their place in the bed. Fynes wrote of the hovels that employers built for their workers with rooms 4yards by 5 yards with a small pantry and in this area the miners were expected to live with their families and bring up their children. The houses of Annitsford were 'Miserable little cribs, with well worn brick floors, pigeon cotes for attics, and little peep hole windows.' (Our Colliery Villages).
This site was created May, 1999 and is maintained by D.J.Kane, BA. (Hons). Dip. Eur. Hum. (Open)
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