Fascinating lost sketches reveal the faces of the greats who built modern Newcastle

A remarkable picture of life in Newcastle 180 years ago has been revealed through a chance find by books expert Anthony Smithson

Long-lost sketches of some of the men who built Newcastle, discovered at a home in the city

A remarkable picture of life in Newcastle 180 years ago has been revealed through a chance find in a house in the city.

A volume containing 85 mainly pencil sketches of notable figures and characters has been discovered by books expert Anthony Smithson.

The sketches, from the days before photography, include drawings from life of developer Richard Grainger, architect John Dobson and town clerk John Clayton, who were the driving force behind the reinvention of Newcastle town centre - now called Grainger Town.

The sketches were made by a member of the Burnup family, who ran a horse coach and carriage works at Elswick Court, Northumberland Street, Newcastle.

The company made a carriage in 1880 for the Shah of Persia.

A number of the individuals featured in the book may have been customers of the business, either buying or hiring carriages.

Anthony Smithson, who owns the Keel Row bookshop in North Shields, found the sketches when he called at a home in the city to sift through books which were for sale.

“The sketch book is a unique record of many of the notable people in Newcastle around the 1830s. I was tremendously excited when I discovered it,” said Anthony.


Members of the Burnup family appear, including Emma, John, William and Thomas Burnup.

Cuthbert Burnup built railway wagons as early as 1829 and that may be the link for the appearance in the book of John Blackmore, who was appointed as chief engineer in 1833 for the Newcastle-Carlisle railway.

The same may apply to the sketch of locomotive builder Robert Hawthorn, whose works were on Forth Banks in Newcastle.

There is a sketch of pilot Robert Clark, who was one of seven men who died in a tragedy off Cullercoats when their boat was hit by a heavy sea.

Newcastle’s eminent physician Dr Headlam is shown taking the pulse of a patient. He was a president of the Literary and Philosophical Society and was involved in political and municipal reform.

Also included is Thomas Hodgson, owner of the Newcastle Chronicle and a founder member of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Edward Hodgson is also shown, described as a hingemaker and poacher.

There are images of John Strachan, who founded the Barras Bridge brewery.

Clergymen include the Rev Ralph Henry Brandling, land and coal owner, of Gosforth House and Shotton Hall in County Durham and the Rev Richard Clayton, brother of John Clayton, and vicar of St Thomas’s Church at Barras Bridge, Newcastle.

Other individuals include: David Akenhead, bookseller and printer; Joseph Anderson, solicitor, of Benwell Tower; Theodore Bernard, French wine merchant, Quayside; solicitors John Brown, F W Tappenden, George Wailes and Joseph Blacklock, of Summerhill Terrace; David Burn, coal owner; Robert Cunningham master of the ship Anne & Mary; Dixon Dixon, county magistrate; James Guthrie, brewer, Three Bulls Heads; John Hair and Peter Hansen, shipbrokers; Jos Hair, Ship Inn; Backhouse Myers, chemist; William Pearson, chemist; George Straker, ship owner; Robert Walters, estate agent.


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