May 14, 2012 20:04:58
Posted By Robert. Stephenson
The excavation in a car park off Forth Street, behind Newcastle Central Station, has uncovered the remains of a gas works dating from around 1830.
This was one of the first such works in the city from a time when there were only 269 gas lamps inside the town walls and a mere 280 throughout the suburbs.
The arrival of gas lighting opened up a whole new world for city dwellers, not only allowing them to feel safer going out in the dark but also seeing the introduction of the nightshift, a driving force in industrial expansion.
The dig by Tyne and Wear Museums Archaeology has uncovered a floor which housed 16 retorts – chambers in which coal was heated to produce gas.
In the 19th century the area was a concentration of industry, including Stephenson’s works locomotive factory.
Work on the £200m Stephenson Quarter development is due to begin in the summer.
It will bring 300,000sq ft of office space and two hotels, one of which is under a management agreement to Intercontinental Hotel Group to run a four-star Crowne Plaza Hotel.
There will also be a large multi-storey car park, public space, restaurants and high-quality residential apartments.