Once the heart of the industrial revolution in Gateshead, Blaydon Burn is a wonderful example of what happens when industry moves away and nature returns. Over one mile long and covering over 50 hectares of woodland, grassland and wetland, Blaydon Burn is a treasure trove of industrial archaeology and wildlife waiting to be discovered.
Recognising Blaydon Burn's unique historical, wildlife and recreational importance Gateshead Council began a major project in 2007 to conserve and improve Blaydon Burn for people and wildlife. The aim of this three year long Blaydon Burn Project was to record the areas of archaeological interest, to conserve and improve opportunities for wildlife and to encourage local people to enjoy, learn about and care for Blaydon Burn.
We know from archaeological evidence that Bronze Age people lived at nearby Summer Hill and that people have been living and working in Blaydon Burn since the Middle Ages.
Initially the key to the industrial development at Blaydon Burn was water power and by the 18th century at least eight corn mills were operating along the stretch of Blaydon Burn described in this PDF from gateshead.gov.uk
From the 19th century industrial development expanded rapidly to include a number of industries related to the processing of coal. The supply of cheap local fuel and good transport links led to the development of coke works, steelworks, iron foundries and brickworks making Blaydon Burn one of the most industrialised parts of the region.
However, from the 1950s advances in technology, declining local raw materials and overseas competition saw the decline and closure of the industries in Blaydon Burn. In the 70s and 80s reclamation schemes were carried out to treat and 'make safe' the most derelict areas of the Burn. The Ottovale Works were reclaimed, Cowen's Lower Yard was cleared, the Blaydon Burn Waggonway was taken up and the Burn was largely left to return to nature.
Today, the remnants of the area's industrial history can still be seen in the 108 different stone and brick-built features which are scattered throughout the nature reserve and in the historical records which make Blaydon Burn one of the most important sites for the study of industrial archaeology in the north east.
Description harvested from Gateshead.gov.uk
Blaydon Burn. More photos and memories from someoone who grew up around Blaydon Burn in the 1950's and 1960's.
Blaydon Burn Cycle Path
Blaydon Burn Local Nature Reserve
Blaydon Burn Industrial Landscape Assessment
Old photos of Blaydon Burn from iSee Gateshead
Blaydon Burn Drift Mine Remains on Flickr