Watermills of Pandon Dene

Duncan Hutt looks at the mills of a lost Newcastle stream.

The Pandon Burn is one of Newcastle’s ‘lost’ watercourses. It flowed from Spital Tongues (as the Bailiff Burn) under Barras Bridge (near the Hancock Museum) and under what is now the Civic Centre, University of Northumbria and Central Motorway. It finally flows out into the Tyne along the Quayside near the Old Customs House. Today, none of it is above ground and even back in the early 17th century the last section to the quayside was culverted.

View in Pandon Dene, taken in the year 1821.  Engraved by J Knox from a painting by J Lumsden. From the collection of Kenneth Major

View in Pandon Dene, taken in the year 1821. Engraved by J Knox from a painting by J Lumsden.
From the collection of Kenneth Major

Though the Pandon Burn is far smaller than the next burn east, the Ouse Burn, it still drove a number of water mills. There is some indication that there may have been one in Spital Tongues as a map from 1830 by T Oliver shows a pond and building just downstream and another long pond behind the windmill (Chimney Mills) on Claremont Road.

Early maps do not extend to Barras Bridge and neither the 1611 (William Mathew) nor the 1723 (James Corbridge) maps show any mils on the section of the Pandon Burn that is depicted. However by 1772 (James Hutton) there are three mills clearly shown and a probable fourth just upstream of Barras Bridge. By 1807 a map of Newcastle as part of an area “Plan of the rivers Tyne & Wear with the collieries, waggonways and staithes…” by Lambert seems to show the main three though none is specifically labelled. Oddly an 1808 map by G Cole bears more similarity to the 1772 map (Hutton) than the 1807 one – an indication, perhaps, that the date of publication is often very different from the survey date

In 1827 the Plan of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead by John Wood confirms three of the mills but Barras Bridge had changed and any mill here had gone. The three mills (marked as such) are probably under the Civic Centre, part of the University of Northumbria and Manors. A map by T Oliver from 1838 shows the same three mills with little change since 1827 though many new houses have appeared on the northeast side of the dene and the dene itself appears to be gardens (or a park).

By 1851 (John Tallis) the lower of the three mills has disappeared under a large building next to Manors Station but the other two mills are still there. In 1864 the first edition Ordnance Survey map shows yet more of the Dene infilled and no real sign of any mills still remaining.

Note: Names in brackets indicate the person responsible for the map of that date.

From:  Northumbrian Mills No 25, January 2003

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