King's Meadows

Before the mid 19th Century much the Tyne was only navigable at high tide and there were numerous sand banks and islands. The invention of the steam dredger had a massive effect on the use of the river and it was extensively dredged to allow ships access to Elswick and Dunston. Up to the 1860's this area was a rural riverscape, the main feature being the King's Meadows a 30 acre island. Complete with a Pub, the Countess of Coventry, the island was a popular festival venue for horse racing and regattas and the landlady kept cows to supply the village of Elswick with milk. 

 

After the construction of the Swing Bridge at Newcastle shipbuilding became possible at Armstrong's Elswick Works, this photogragh taken from the King's Meadows shows their first warship the Austrian fast cruiser Panther ready to be launched. (Not the rowing boat!)

By 1890 the island had been dredged away but a hundred years later the industrial need for a shipping channel has gone and the river is once again forming banks of silt that could grow into islands.

Riverscape proposes the reconstruction of King's Meadow as a place of recreation and a bridging point between Elswick and Dunston. It could also be rivived as a destination for world class boat racing from the Tyne Bridge that once made the Tyne famous in the Victorian era.

 

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