The first task for the project was to go away in groups and research different aspects of Morpeth:
- Historical, cultural economical evolution of the of the town
- Geographical analysis – the river valley – the flood plain
- Urban patterns
- Audit of trades / businesses
- Previous land use patterns
- Future expansion of the town – development plan
- Sustainable communities
Covering these allowed a larger picture of the town to be produced. The aspects (some of which have become problematic) should be taken into consideration for the masterplanning task of the project.
Our group researched the Historical, cultural economical evolution of the of the town. We pinned up photos, extracts, and other sources of information to formulate a pool of history in the form of a timeline:
The timeline runs from 4000 BC to present day:
Morpeth: Historical, Cultural Evolution of the Town
4000BC – 2200BC: Stone Axe
Earliest evidence of occupation in the area thought to date back to Neolithic times.
700BC – 43AD: Cropmarks of Enclosure
A number of rectangular enclosure sites such, as Highhouse Dean, can be seen from aerial views of the area. Thought to date back to either Iron Age or Roman.
1066: Norman Conquest
1095: Castle Built
Was built as part of a series of motte and bailey castles, built by the Barons, along the Tynedale and Redesdale to protect the English border.
1138: Ranulph de Merley builds Abbey of Newminnister
1199: King John grants a Charter to hold a market.
13th Century: The Old Chantry Bridge was built.
The need for better communication prompted the build of a two-arched stone bridge to replace the existing ford.
1200: First Market is held in Morpeth
Markets traditionally where held at the Fairmoor, on Wednesday and later expanded to other days. Morpeth history as a market town begins.
1215: Morpeth Castle and town destroyed by King John in the 1st Barons War
1250: Mitford market starts to decline
Mitford, only two miles away, was an older and far superior settlement to Morpeth at the time and had its own established market and fair.
1296: Morpeth has 35 Tax Payers
Morpeth had 12 jurors, fuller, weaver, forrester, cobbler, salter, fisherman, clerics, glover and a smith.
1298: Greystock family acquire Morpeth through marriage.
Scottish wars were waged.
1300: Morpeth Castle Built
Castle was situated on a hill overlooking the River Wansbeck and Northumberland’s capital. It was built in 1300, more for show than defence. Its builder, Lord Greystoke, wanted its presence felt, because it was to be used as a court-house.
1340: New Castle built in the bailey of the original
1467: Dacre family acquire Morpeth through marriage
1508: William Turner was born
William Turner, who grew up to become a famous ornithologist and botanist, was born and raised in Morpeth. He later became known as “The Father of English Botany”.
1523: Guilds Developed
- Merchants and taylors
- Fullers, Dyers, Carvers and Hatters,
- Smiths, Sandlers, and Armourers
- Weavers and Skinners
- Glovers and Butchers
1529: Market moves
The market moves from Fairmoor to ‘Lez Market Sted’ later called the Forum in 1604. Where the two streets, Bridge street and Newgate street, joined.
1537: Abbey of Newminister Closed
Abbey of Newminister closed during the first wave of dissoliation. Estate leased by the Grey family: Stones were used for other buildings.
1604: Morpeth Borough presented with a mace (a current tresure)
1634: Morpeth Clock tower was built
1644: Scottish supporters of parliament occupied Morpeth Caste.
The market was temporaily transferred to the villages of Ulgham and Bockenfield.
1699: Market Cross was put up in market places
1706: The Earl of Carlisle provided the town with a grand town hall
It was designed by architect John Vanbrugh.
1730: Race-course built for horse racing
1736: Coal mining began near Morpeth.
1741: Morpeth Cattle Fair
In 1741, Morpeth Cattle Fair was advertised in the Newcastle Courant to begin on the first Wednesday in April, and to continue weekly till Christmas. The weekly sale of oxen here has now for many years been upwards of 200, and of sheep and lambs 2500, which are chiefly reared and fed in Northumberland and Scotland, and consumed within the limits of the trade and ports of the Tyne and Wear
1770: ‘Grey’s Nag’s Head Inn’, now ‘Old Nag’s Head Inn’
1775: All year round market for fat cattle started
1791: Collingwood House
Grade II listed building, home to Lord Collingwood from 1791 to his death 1810.
1815: Battle of Waterloo
The price of meat went up.
1827: There is a reference to a suspension bridge being built at the bottom of Oldgate.
1831: Telford Bridge Built
- Increasing road traffic made Morpeth a bottleneck.
- New bridge, engineered by Thomas Telford and designed by John Dobson is built.
- As there was a toll for crossing the bridge, a number of people were using the adjacent Chantry bridge to avoid paying the toll. This lead to the Chantry bridge being demolished. A footbrigde was later built using the stone plinth from the orinigal brigde for support.
1832: Reform Act passed in Parliment.
Boundaries extended – Old borough 270 arces, new borough 147,670 arces
1833: Morpeth is thought to be the largest cattle market in Engalnd.
1835: Municipal corropations act
Governed by mayor, 4 aldermen & 12 councillers.
1835: Bull baiting & cock-fighting ablished
1846: Rutherford & Co Established.
- One of the oldest businesses in the country
- Still trading today and passed through many generations.
- Traded in a number of goods including household items and ladies clothing.
1847: Railway Opened
- Decline of the Market
- Improved communications; People could easily take goods straight to Newcastle.
- Start of shift in economical evolution.
1864: Swinney’s Ironwork’s
- Some of the old crafts were decling.
- More employment was provided by industrial companies such as Swinney’s.
- All kinds of casting & ironworks were made; works continued for more than a century.
1869-1870: Town Hall was rebuilt, keeping the Vanbrugh Style
1876: YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association)
- Seen as important at the time to the development of the town.
1888: County Councils Established
- Assume control of schooling after 1902 & in 1911 opened the Goosehill Council School for the 200 girls and 245 boys.
1903: A new market is opened behind townhall to store cattle
1904: Railway Traffic Increase
- Railway traffic incrase considerably
- New lines were opened to the North & South – bringing increase in passengers and increase in trade in goods such as coal, stone, & cattle.
1905: Bainbridge Hall
- Opened by Aldermann G. B. Bainbridge, who was President of the YMCA.
- Contained a large recreation room, which was suitable for all kinds of functions inlcuding religious services, among which was the Annual Exhibition.
1917: Jennings Ltd opened
Only Ford dealership in the country at Morpeth – it is the largest in the North East today
1946: Morpeth Antiquarian Society founded
1957: Last Pen removed from Newmarket. Cattle market moved to Stobhill.
1968: Morpeth Antiquarian Society introduced the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering, an annual festival which promotes traditional aspects of Northumbrian life.
1969: Swimming baths built on part of the old Newgate market site – which were extended later into a sports and leisure centre.
1985: The whole of the Morpeth Martket closed down for good. All business was transfered to Tyneside.
Morpeth’s animal trade ends.
1985 – onwards: Market continued at Back Riggs.
Chamber of Trade introduced an annual Fair Day in June.