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Newcastle, Cloth Market (Flesh Market)





Cloth Market




The earliest reference to this market street is a deed of the early C13 - a grant by David, son of Nicholas of Newcastle, to John of Pampdene… of four shillings annual rent for land in the market street. In 1401 comes the first reference to Cloth Market Gate (where gate means street). Clathmerketgit (1414), Clathmarket (1430), Clothmarket strete (1447), la Cloth Market (1491). Middle Street (Medegate 1292, medius vicus 1447 and Milne Borne 1578) ran between the buildings on Cloth Market and Groat Market. Middle Street was subdivided into three - Skinnergate (1310) - vicus pellipariorum (1310), bothae pellipariorum (1323), le Schinnergate and le Skinnergate (1348-50), la Skynnergate (1393), Skynnergate (1430 and 1447) - at the top, Spurriergate (1447) - Sporiourrowe (1447) - means spur makers, the Stays (1268-9), le Stathes (1342) - in the middle and Saddlegate (1447) at the bottom. In the mid C16, Midle Street was known as Glovergate. The medieval Cloth Market became the Flesh Market in the seventeenth century until 1808 (when a new special-purpose Butcher Market was built on what is now Grey Street. On 4th April 1677, the town council granted to Jane Lewen, widow, and Richard Harbottle, cordwainer of the weigh house, "Flesh Shammells" (shambles or benches). John Bourne (1736) reported that the flesh market was held every Saturday, supplying provisions to thousands of people including staithmen, pit men, keelmen and wrights and also ships. From 1829 it was officially known once again as the Cloth Market, as it was in the middle ages. It gradually became less occupied with houses and became more commercial with many public houses - some still survive. The small houses in the yards leading back from the street became workshops and warehouses. The Cloth Market is unexpectedly quaint with its varied architectural styles, scales and materials, all of regular medieval burgage plot widths. Up until 1855 it was a proper two-sided street. The Old Town Hall was built on the western side in 1855 (and demolished in the early 1970s). Later development between Cloth and Groat Markets was a result of temporary colonisation of the market space by stall-holders which eventually led to permanent structures. Up to 1838, when a new corn exchange was built across it, an old street called Middle Street ran parallel to and between Cloth and Groat Markets. The final nail in the coffin for this market area was Grainger's innovative covered multi-purpose market of 1835. We do not know who lay out the present triangular area known as the Bigg/Groat/Cloth Markets, but the deliberateness is evident in its simple geometric shape and in the regularity of the residential and crafts plots that still radiate from it, particularly along the east side of Cloth Market. The survival of so many of these burgage plots in an industrial City such as Newcastle is truly remarkable.




N. Pevsner and I. Richmond, second edition revised by G. McCombie, P. Ryder and H. Welfare, 1992, The Buildings of England: Northumberland (second edition); D. Lovie, 1997, The Buildings of Grainger Town; I. Ayris, 1997, A City of Palaces; G. McCombie, 1981, The Cloth Market (Joicey Museum leaflet); W. Gray, 1649, Choragraphia, p16, 18-19; H. Bourne, 1736, The History of Newcastle upon Tyne, p 55.

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