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HERITAGE TALK – THE POWBURN AND ITS PLACE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ST LEONARD’S HOSPITAL AND NORTHUMBERLAND PARK

HERITAGE TALK – THE POWBURN AND ITS PLACE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ST LEONARD’S HOSPITAL AND NORTHUMBERLAND PARK

Saturday 14 Sept 2024, 11am to 12 noon

£4 / members half price + booking fee

It is always a pleasure to welcome Mike Coates, a regular volunteer and one of our popular speakers, who has written several books about the history and heritage of North Shields and some of the great people who helped shape the town.

On this occasion, he will focus on how the now culverted Powburn was once an important tributary of the River Tyne and was a key factor in the development of North Shields.

In medieval times, hospitals were usually built near bridges over rivers, on which there would be a resident from the hospital collecting contributions for its upkeep.

St Leonard’s Hospital, North Shields, was built in Spital Dene, near Spital Bridge, which was over the Powburn, on King Edward Road, the main route from Newcastle to Tynemouth.

At that time hospitals had a different role, and initially it may have provided hospitality for travellers.

Mike will explain how during an archaeological excavation, findings showed that it had also provided shelter for people with leprosy.

Hundreds of years later, in the late 19th century, land from Spital Dene was provided to create Northumberland Park. Alderman John Foster Spence played a key role in this development, seeing an opportunity to provide desperately needed work for local men as well as providing an important amenity for the community.

Around ten years ago money was made available for major restoration work at Northumberland Park and to carry out an archaeological investigation of St Leonard’s Hospital and chapel.

At the time, Mike was chairman of the Friends of Northumberland Park and was involved in both the restoration of the park and the archaeological excavations.

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