The Close

Now situated beneath the Victorian High Level Bridge, the Close was an important part of Newcastle’s medieval riverside. It acquired its name in medieval times from an enclosure of ground between the river and castle, upstream from the site of the medieval bridge.

This placed it beyond the reach of larger ships, making it an attractive place of residence for Newcastle’s wealthiest medieval merchants, especially on the south side of the Close where houses had their own private riverside quays.

The Percys, Earls of Northumberland, were amongst the men of power with a town house in the Close. Buildings of interest include the timber-framed ‘Cooperage’. Timber additions were made to the original ruins of a stone house between 1543 and the 1600s. As the name implies The Cooperage was once a barrel-making concern. Sadly, it is presently unused with an uncertain future and appears to be in a neglected state.

Next door to the Cooperage are the rapidly ascending ‘Long Stairs’ or perhaps more correctly to use the dialect, ‘Lang Stairs’. Stone stairs were, like the chares, a notable historic feature of the Newcastle Quayside but unlike the chares the stairs are concentrated in the western area of the Quayside around the castle, Sandhill and Close. The 1736 map shows several of these stairs rapidly descending to the Tyne.

Some of the surviving stairs have impressive descents down which you wouldn’t want to fall. They include Breakneck Stairs, Castle Stairs, Dog Leap Stairs and Tuthill Stairs. The ‘Lang’ Stairs next door to the Cooperage feature in the Tyneside folk song ‘Adam Buckham’:

Oh it’s doon the Lang Stairs, in an’ oot the Close;
All in Baker’s Entry, Adam Buckham knows.

O Adam Buckham O, O Adam Buckham O,
O Adam Buckham O, wiv his bow legs.

Nanny carries water, Tommy cobbles shoes,
but Adam Buckham gans aboot gath’rin in the news.

O Adam Buckham O, O Adam Buckham O,
O Adam Buckham O, wiv his bow legs.

Jackie’s sellin’ besoms, Mary feeds the goats,
But Adam’s doon the Quayside gabblin’ roond the boats.

O Adam Buckham O, O Adam Buckham O,
O Adam Buckham O, wiv his bow legs.

The entrance to the Long Stairs separates the Cooperage from the esteemed ‘House of Tides’ restaurant next door. This building seemingly has an 18th century exterior but its interior reveals that it is a merchants’ house dating back to the late 16th and early 17th century. It was once the home of the Clavering family who later moved to Axwell Park near Blaydon.

Across the street, The Quayside pub beneath the High Level Bridge occupies extensive riverside warehouses dating back to the early 1500s. At the east end of the Close, near the Breakneck Stairs, remnants of the town wall can be seen where the Close Gate stood near the river. Towering high above everything else further up the river bank is the massive Turnbull warehouse of the 1890s in Queens Lane. Now apartments, it was originally built for a printing works.


Description courtesy of England's North East - The Close.



20th January 2022



Long Stairs.
The Long Stairs in Newcastle start on the Close between the 15th century Cooperage and 16th century “Buttress” merchant’s house, leading up to Moot Hall. Source: Co-Curate.



The Cooperage.
No. 32 the Close, built as a house, later used as a cooperage, a public house and restaurant and now derelict for some time. The structure dates from the 15th century with later alterations, having a sandstone ground floor with timber framed upper floors with rendered infill. Jettied first and second floors are topped with a pantiled roof. Building survey in 1990's suggest that the building in its present form dates from the mid 16th century, compatible with the character of carpentry and method of construction. The use of stone walls for ground and first floor is a feature of Newcastle vernacular tradition. The later phases of the building date to the final period of timber-framed construction in the town. The final change from timber-framing to all brick construction probably took place in the late 17th century. The Cooperage is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Newcastle. Sounds of footsteps on the staircase have been heard when the pub is closed, and shouting. A young girl in a shimmering dress combing her long blonde hair has been seen, and a man wearing a top hat looking out of a second floor window. Listed Grade 2. Source: Sitelines



No's 28 and 30 Close.
Nos 28/30, Close in Newcastle (now 'House of Tides') was originally built in the late 16th century as merchant's house. The upper facade in English bond brick is from the 18th or early 19th century. The building was restored and is managed by the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust: "Acquired in 1983 it took over 30 years of phased restoration work before a viable use could be found for it. The effort was certainly worthwhile and today the building provides a characterful home to the House of Tides restaurant, operated by Michelin Star Chef – Restaurateur Kenny Atkinson." Listed Grade I. . Source: Co-Curate



Tuthill Stairs.
Linked The Close with the upper part of the medieval town. Bourne refers to them as Tudhill-Stairs.. The proper name was Tout-hill, from the touting or winding of a horn when an enemy was at hand. Source: Sitelines.



Remains of Close Gate.
Close Gate, across the Close, was built in the mid 14th century. The only view of it (and that unreliable) shows a 3 storey tower pierced by a single central passage, without either a pedestrian gate or flanking guardrooms. However, a lease of 1770 records 3 lofts or rooms in the tower upon Close Gate. A 16th century reference to the purchase of a rope for its drawbridge suggests there was a ditch west of, or a drawbridge pit beneath, the gate itself. Damaged in 1644, it was repaired in 1648; and it was one of the gates ordered to be built up in 1745. When the prisoners had to be removed from the Magazine tower after the Tyne Bridge was washed away in 1771 the Close Gate was used as a temporary prison. It was finally demolished in 1797. Overgrown bushes obscure most of what remains. Source: Sitelines.



No 1 Close, Toll House (Coroners House).
Built around 1870 as a Toll house, then later Coroner's Court, now offices. Sandstone ashlar with plinth; Welsh slate roof. 2 storeys, 3 bays. 2 steps to 4-panelled door with overlight in segmental-headed surround with pilasters and voussoirs. Keyed round-headed raised surrounds and bracketed sills to flanking sashes; 3 sashes above in plain reveals; all with late Cl9 glazing. End pilasters with channelled rustication. Cornice and blocking course. Listed Grade 2. Source: Sitelines



Hanging Gardens.
Just opposite the Copthorne Hotel the Hanging Gardens are now closed to the public. Sitelines says about the gardens... The Hanging Gardens are a contemporary landscaped area developed on the steeply sloping bank running down to the Close, within the boundary of the historic town wall. The formerly derelict site was developed in the early 1990s by Anthony Walker and Partners. The tiers are constructed from brick walls and hold areas of trees, bushes and ferns as well as grassed spaces. The walkways are paved and tarmacked, and wind up the terraces which are separated by iron railings. The Hanging gardens won the Landscape Institute National Design award in 1993. Source: Sitelines.



The Copthorne Hotel.



Close, No. 68-72








9th December 2021



No 1 Close, Toll House (Coroners House).





4th November 2021



The Cooperage.



Javel Groupe Marker.
On the south side of The Close was Javel Groop (Javelgrippe 1425, le Gaoell-Grype 1505, Jayvelgraye 1566 and Jayle Groupe 1590). Javel derives from "gavell" referring to the gaol in the Castle Keep, gripe or group means drain or channel. There was a plot of waste land in The Close in the angle formed by the east side of Javel Groop, called Ald Javell in 1425. Source: Sitelines



No 1 Close, Toll House (Coroners House).



No 8-10 Close.
Shops and houses, now offices. Circa 1830. Incised stucco with ashlar dressings; Welsh slate roof. 4 storeys, 8 bays. Reeded Tuscan pilasters and entablature frame ground-floor shops. Upper floors have plain sashes in architraves, pedimented on first floor and each with pulvinated frieze and cornice on second floor; second-floor bracketed sill string. Third floor windows have plain reveals. Top cornice and coped high parapet. Rendered ridge chimneys. 2 iron handrails attached to right return alongside Castle Stairs: round-section rails with downcurved ends, attached on iron brackets. Listed Grade 2. Source: Sitelines



No's 28 and 30 Close.



No. 35 Close.
The Quayside (Wetherspoons, previously No 1 Lloyds Bar) is a public house and restaurant at no. 35 Close, by the Newcastle Quayside. The building dates back to the 16th century and was previously known as Dove's Warehouse. The building is Grade 2* listed and is the only example of a late 16th century merchant's house with its own wharf remaining on the Close. (Co-Curate)



Tuthill Stairs.
Following the old practice of narrow closes and stairways connecting Newcastle's Quayside with the higher land north of the Tyne, Tuthill Stairs is now a modern connection between Close and Clavering Place providing a passage between the new apartment blocks west of the High Level Bridge. It follows, however, the line of one of Newcastle's Medieval narrow streets, an alley or chare in the local dialect. (Geograph)





12th August 2021



The Cooperage.
Is The Cooperage finally being saved? Or just propped up?



Bridge Court.
Offices vacated by British Telecom in 2011 now converted to a hotel and a restaurant.





17th October 2020



Bridge Court.



No. 35 Close.





21st September 2020



The Cooperage.





3rd August 2020







The Cooperage.



Looking east towards Sandhill.





22nd June 2019








27th December 2018




Bridge Court.





29th June 2018




Bridge Court.





16th April 2018




Bridge Court.





8th January 2018




No's 28 and 30 Close.





26th September 2017




Bridge Court.





The Cooperage.





18th July 2017




No's 8 and 10 Close.





21st February 2017







Bridge Court.





3rd December 2014













5th June 2014




The Cooperage.




No's 28 and 30 Close.




The Bonded Warehouse.




No. 68-72 Close, The Pravda Bar.




No. 62 Close, Quayside Lofts.










25th November 2013






No. 35 Close.




No 8-10 Close.










16th January 2012










16th January 2006











10th September 2005








21st August 2005








More Information:
Historical interest in The Close:
Historic public houses/breweries in The Close:
My other photos around the Quayside:

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