Allan House, Newcastle
Mike Griffiths and Associates Ltd were commissioned to undertake a desk based assessment and building recording of Allan House, Newcastle. The desk top study has established that the site had been predominantly open ground prior to the construction of Allan House in 1908. Early map evidence suggested that the development site lay adjacent to a windmill from the 17 th century and underwent considerable landscaping during the 19 th century associated with the construction of City Road, Cut Bank and properties on Ouse Street. In 1827 the site is depicted as being arable land and it wasn't until the mid 19 th century that suburban expansion in and around Lower Ouseburn encroached on the site.
The current building, Allan House, was constructed in 1908 as the New Warehouses and Stores for the recently formed Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company. The original layout comprised a brick built two storey warehouse/stores fronting onto City Road with a blacksmith wing to the rear. The building appears to have served as a maintenance depot and storeroom for the companies ships mooring on one of the many quays the company leased in Quayside and Gateshead. In 1931 the site was partially redeveloped as the plots along Ouse Street which were owned by the Newcastle Corporation were acquired and demolished to make way for an additional garage and workshop, which can be seen today.
The site was sold to the current owners, Allan Joinery, in 1967 who adapted the building for use as their own workshop and stores. The current use has involved the subdivision of some of the larger rooms with modern partitions for storage and offices and limited alteration to the fabric of the original building - predominantly the blocking of windows and openings on the ground floor in the blacksmiths shop and adjacent works to provide storage and suitable environment for dust extraction from woodworking. In main the Edwardian structure, including the roof, survives intact and is a good example of its type.
The most important archaeological feature identified within the site boundary comprises the Victoria Tunnel, a Grade II listed building which was constructed between 1839 and 1842 to transport coal from the Spital Tongues Colliery to the Quayside for export. The structure runs beneath the blacksmith wing of Allan House and through the courtyard and is recorded as lying between 4m and 2m below the current ground surface on the site. The current proposal will be designed to avoid any impact to this structure.
With the exception of the tunnel, the site has a very low potential to contain buried archaeological remains from any period prior to the 19 th century.. It is also evident that the courtyard area of the site has been subject to landscaping associated with the construction of housing in the mid 19 th century, Allan House in 1908 and the construction of garage and warehouses in 1931. The 19 th century remains comprise residential housing demolished and truncated in 1870 and 1931. It is not felt that these deposits are important enough to merit further investigation in this proposal.
The development proposal involves the refurbishment of Alan House into hotel accommodation and the redevelopment of both the blacksmith wing and the 1930s garage. The redevelopment of Allan House will have a largely positive impact on the Edwardian structure and will retain, restore and enhance the existing features such as the staircases, windows, architectural brickwork, mouldings, architraves and skirting board. The redevelopment of the blacksmith wing and garage proposes the demolition of the steel clad section of the garage with the retention of the main external elevations. It is felt that these will have a positive contribution to the setting of the conservation area in addition to preserving and enhancing the significant building fabric.
Where surviving features such as panelling, architraves, doors are to be removed or obscured it is recommended that they are subject to further archaeological recording in mitigation.
Mike Griffiths and Associates have been commissioned by Hotel du Vin to undertake an archaeological building survey and desk-based assessment of the Allan House building on City Road, Ouseburn, Newcastle. The work was undertaken in accordance with a specification issued by the Tyne and Wear Specialist Conservation Team (Appendix 4). The planning application proposes the conversion of the existing building into a hotel, with the existing garage and warehouse at the rear of the site to be redeveloped and raised by three storeys. The site is centred as NGR NZ 2631 6423 (Figure 1). This report seeks to present the archaeological and historic development of the site and its significance to inform the planning application.
Topography and Land Use
The site is located within a triangular segment of land, to the west of the Ouseburn River, at its confluence with the Tyne (Figure 1). The site measures approximately 55m by 40m, covers an area of 0.162ha and is characterised by the presence of Allan House, an early 20 th century brick warehouse and store, and associated buildings. The site is bounded by Ouse Street to the northwest, City Road to the south and a plot of grass and car parking to the west. Within local area, the development plot is set on the east-facing slope of Millers Hill, the apex of which rises to circa 21m AOD (Above Ordnance Datum) and commands a prominent position along the northern bank of the River Tyne. To the south the ground falls away sharply, evidenced in the shear escarpment of Ropery Bank, to around 15m AOD at the point of the Tyne Quayside. To the north the fall is less severe, with a height at the junction of Cut Bank and Ouse Street of around 9.5m AOD. To the northwest the slope continues to climb up to the site of St. Ann's Yard. The earliest illustration of this hill is to be seen in Corbridge's map of 1723 (Figure 3), though this gives no accurate dimensions for its height or plan width. Subsequent 18 th century maps show this hill to have been occupied by a windmill, purported to have been built in the mid-17 th century on a plot adjacent to the site of a Civil War fort. The site occupied by the mill subsequently became known as Millers Hill.
From at least the 18 th century the Millers Hill plot was demarcated as a triangular parcel of land between three roads, which are today Tyne Street, Cut Bank and Ouse Street (Figure 4). By the mid-19 th century, residential brick terraces and public houses fronted these roads. In the 1870s a new road (City Road) was driven through Millers Hill, to the north of Tyne Street (Figure 11 and Figure 12) dissecting the plot and resulting in the road layout that can be seen today.
The Allan House building was added in 1908 on the north side and at the eastern end of the 1870s trunk road, with its west-end and blacksmith's wing cut into and abutting the eastern slope of Millers Hill. The site is currently used as a joiner's factory and garage.
The geology of the region rests on Middle Coal Measures of the Carboniferous that are sealed by Quaternary deposits of the Devensian. Pleistocene glaciation in this period shaped the route of the Tyne and in its retreat left thick drift sediments. The depth of such deposits is generally in the region of 10 metres and in the main comprises plastic grey-brown to yellow-brown sandy boulder clay (BGS 1998).
The development site is situated within Sub-Area 4 of the Lower Ouseburn Valley Conservation Area (NCC 2005). The 1990 Planning Act characterises a Conservation Area as 'an area of architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance' (Ibid., 2). Specific to the Lower Ouseburn Valley Conservation Area is the site of Hadrian's Wall, 300m to the north of the site under review, as well as ten listed buildings: there are no Scheduled Ancient Monuments within its limits. The listed buildings are all Grade II status. They are the Ouseburn Valley Viaduct, Crawford's Bridge, 30 Lime Street, 36 Lime Street, Sailor's Bethel, Blenkinsopp Coulson Fountain, Victoria Tunnel, and Ouseburn School: also, listed separately are the walls and railings at the school, and the caretaker's cottage.
The conservation document incorporates an assumption in favour of the preservation in situ , and where necessary by record, of features of archaeological interest in accordance with the guiding principles set out in Planning Permission Guidelines 15 and 16. Besides the World Heritage Site status attributed to Hadrian's Wall, the area is identified as being of particular interest regarding the industrial period, being the location of post-medieval potteries, glassworks, rope works, canvas works etc. (Ibid., 17).
In addition, the valley is within a designated wildlife corridor, with a niche ecology including bats and kingfishers (Ibid., 17-18).
The conservation statement also identifies a number of buildings without statutory designation as of interest. Allan House is included. This is in accordance with the building's nomination and subsequent adoption as a site of importance on the Newcastle Local List of Sites of Local Architectural or Historic Significance (NCC 2006, No.218). This list carries no statutory force, but can play a role in informing and determining planning applications.
Highlighted for conservation is the Victoria Tunnel, which is described as 'one of the most important structures to survive from the early Victorian Period of the coal trade' (NCC 2005, 40).
The city's Regeneration Strategy Statement (NCC 2003) seeks to promote sustainable development with regard to the region's heritage and progressive economy, towards a vision of an 'Urban Village'. This includes the objective to 'seek new uses for derelict, vacant or underused sites and premises', and to 'conserve the best of the built environment to protect the heritage and character of the area' (Ibid., 38).
Figure 1. Site location (NGR 435554 386319).