On Thursday 7th November, 2J visited the Gateshead and Newcastle quayside to learn all about a devastating event…the Great Fire of Gateshead and Newcastle! The fire broke out in the early hours of the 6th October 1854, in the Mayor’s cloth factory, which was filled with flammable materials like cloth, wool and oil! A nearby policeman woke the sleeping residents just as the fire spread to Charles Bertram’s warehouse, next door. The warehouse contained sulphur, which turned the flames bright blue and caused not one, not two, but THREE explosions! The third explosion sent flaming materials over to the Newcastle side of the quayside and soon both sides of the Tyne were alight. In order to stop the flames spreading, the people of Newcastle and Gateshead pulled down every other house, to stop the wooden structures from burning. We were lucky enough to visit one of the surviving houses, belonging to Bessie Surtrees. We noticed just how much wood was included in this house. No wonder the quayside burned for a day and a half! Unfortunately, we learned that 53 people lost their lives – unlike the 6 documented in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was a fascinating trip and we ended the day with our very own song!
Gateshead’s burning, Newcastle’s burning
Three explosions, three explosions,
Blue fire! Blue fire!
Pump the water, pull down houses.