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Sheriff Hill


Sheriff Hill Pottery
Sheriff Hill Pottery stood at the corner of Old Durham Road and Pottery Lane (now Pottersway) facing the Old Cannon Inn. It was established in 1771 by John Warburton and by 1839 employed about 50 people, many of whom lived in a row of cottages adjoining the Old Cannon. The Old Brown Jug public house, called simply the Jug in the nineteenth century, serves as a reminder of the trade once practised nearby. Sheriff Hill Pottery closed in 1909. The buildings were removed in the 1920s to make way for council houses.

The Old Cannon
The Old Cannon on Sheriff Hill had since medieval times been the meeting place of the Judges of Assize on their way from Durham with the Sheriff of Northumberland who crossed the Tyne to meet them and accompany them to Newcastle. (This is the origin of the name ’Sheriff Hill’.)

The Three Tuns
The Three Tuns was chiefly used by pitmen and quarrymen. Its social activities were cock fighting (abolished by law in 1849) and ’cuddy races’ which took place on the open ground in Kells Lane. In 1832 the Three Tuns was the scene of a big reception to celebrate the passing of Lord Russell’s Reform Act. It was also the home of reform meetings and benefit societies such as the "Women’s Box", run by Jenny Hall, wife of a leading local Primitive Methodist. The old inn was pulled down in 1923 and the new one built.

St. John’s Church
St John’s Church opened in 1825. It is one of the highest in England being over 500 feet above sea level. The first Rector’s father was Sir Robert Shaftoe Hawkes of Messrs. Hawkes and Crawshay, Gateshead Ironworks; his brother David, who was blind, was the first organist. In 1809 Gateshead Fell had become a separate parish, and Sir Robert built the Rectory on a site which they called Hawkesbury Hill.

Sodhouse Bank
In 1833 tinkers and hawkers were still numerous at Sheriff Hill. The mining village was very much out of repair and people lived in very dirty and squalid conditions. The name ’Sodhouse’ derives from the fact that most of the houses on the bank were sod huts built from the local turf and mud by the tinkers. In 1886 Back Sodhouse Bank which was below Kells Lane was condemned and demolished.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is built on the site of the former isolation hospital, originally built in 1880 as a 38 bed hospital. It was later increased to 64 beds in 1904. A survey undertaken in 1931 showed that hospital accommodation in the borough was totally inadequate. Work began on major extensions to the isolation hospital in 1938 and on the new general hospital in 1939. The war years delayed building work and the hospital was finally opened on 18th March 1948 by the then Queen (Queen Elizabeth, at that time wife of George VI, now the Queen Mother).








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A History of Low Fell
A History of Low Fell
A Four part series By M. Hope Dodds

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