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Robert Turnbull fl. late 18th century
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Robert Turnbull fl. late 18th century

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“A Plan of the Middle & Eastern Broad Glasshouses & Premises Belonging to The N(ew)castle Br(oa)d and Cr(ow)n Glass Co(mpan)y”, with “A SW Perspective View of the Low Glasshouses”

 

Watercolour and ink on a single sheet of vellum 55 x 32 inches, to the scale of 16 feet to one inch (1:192)

 

 

Signed twice and dated Summer 1793

 

Extensively inscribed in the three cartouches, and further inscribed on the plan with various roads, factories etc., and with “Part of the River Tyne at Low Water”

 

An extraordinarily detailed and exceptional , and presumably unique, visual document of the state of development of a major industry at the early height of the Industrial Revolution, immediately prior to The Napoleonic Wars.

 

The large oval cartouche upper right is titled as above, and further inscribed:

 

References to the Middle Broad House by Letters

 

a) The Middle Broad Glasshouse1

b) The Office

c) The Warehouse

d) A Coalyard

e) A Cottage or Servants Dwelling House and

f) Small Warehouse

g, h, and i) Cottages

j, k and l) S Yards

m, m, m) A Yard for Soapers Waste and two Parcels of waste ground

n, n, n) Cottages

o, o) A calcar with a Cottage and a small Yard

p) A snall Kiln Warehouse

q & r) Clay Warehouses

s) A warehouse with a Pol Loft over it

t) The Middle House coal Yard

u) A Glassmaker's house occupied by William Henzell Skiner

v) A Cottage

w) A place for a Shed

x) The Crane whereof ½ belongs to N&S Br'd Houses and 2/3 to Eastern Crown2 house

y) The Necessary built by the Middle and Eastern Broad House Owners

 

References to R being Sir M W Ridley's Property

 

R1) A large Garden now lying waste

R2) A Sand Yard

R3) A Glassmaker's House occupied by William Morris, Publican.

R4) Another, ditto, occupied by Sundries

R5) A Blacksmith's Shop

Also about 1/10 of the Huff Yard marked 27,27, 27 belongs to Sir Matthew

 

References to H being Mr Hargreave's Property.

 

H1, H2, H3) A Glassmaker's House occupied by George Oram

H4) A piece of Waste ground or Yard used by do

H5) A Cellar occupied by do

 

Reference to Eastern Broad House by Figures

 

1) The Eastern Broad Glasshouse, Occupied by the Crown Glass Company

2) A Place where to lay Furnace Stones, Ashes or Rubbish &c

3, 3) The Two Small Warehouse for Horses and Cuteliers (?) and keeping the Fire Engine

4) A Glassmaker's House occupied by Charles Henzell

5, 6, 7 & 8) Servants Cottages

9) A piece of waste ground abouve the Bottle House

10) Another Servants Cottage

11, 11, 11) Two small Joiners Shops and two large Shades (?)

12) Charles Henzell Garden, at the NW corner lies old Peregrine Tyzack3

13, 13, 13 &c) Waste Ground along the Bank

15, 15) A Cottage and a Small Stable

14) A Mill whereof 2/3 belongs to the Bottle House and 1/3 to the Eastern Br'd House

16) A Clay Warehouse

17, 17 &c) Cottage dwelling houses for Servants

18) A Place for Ashes, Lime &c

19, 19 &c) Sundry small […...] for cynders

20 & 22) Two Coalyards

21) The Old Pot Loft with Staff rooms under [22 is listed above]

23) A Coach House

24, 24)A Glassmaker's House occupied by Isaac Henzell Snr.

25, 25)Another Glasshouse occupied by Sundries

26)A Cottage

27,27,27)A Kalfyard (?) belongs 7/10 to EH, 2/10 to MH, 1/10 toSir M.H. Ridley Bart.

28, 29)The New Warehouse and Shade Built at the Crown Glass Co's Expense in 1793

x30) The Crane whereof 2/3 belongs to EH[...] Crown […] and 1/3 to MH C&Bd […]”

 

At the bottom of the oval cartouche:

 

The above References were chiefly taken from the Mouth of the late Mr Joshua Henzell in the year 1784 in writing on purpose to make such a Plan as this by Robt. Turnbull

 

In the Central shaped cartouche:

 

References to Wallace's Quay Mark'd W and bounded with a Red Line

 

W1) The Principal House

W2, W2) Cottages for Servants

W3) Seven Cynder Ovens

W4, W4) A Stock Bank

W5, W5, &c) Sundry Warehouses for containing Kilp,4 Clay, Flints, Glass Crate Rods &c. &c.

W6) A Mill for Grinding Materials

W7) A Stable

W8, W8 &c) A large Yard for Cyders (sic) or for any Material that will take no hurt by Weather”

 

The Lower cartouche is inscribed:

 

A SW Perspective View of the Low Glasshouses taken in Summer 1793 by - Robt. Turnbull Surveyor”

 

Various other places are identified on the plan, such as “Messrs. Atkinson and Rutherfords Roppery” (sic).

 

 

 

The identity of the draughtsman of this remarkable survival is still the subject of ongoing research at The College Of Arms, but it seems highly likely that he is a member of the Turnbull family of professional- and business-men who lived in central Newcastle throughout the 18th century. He is perhaps to be identified with the Robert Turnbull, son of William Turnbull, who was baptised on 3rd August 1760 at All Saints Church, Newcastle-on-Tyne. He was the third child of identical name born to William Turnbull (the baptismal record of his mother's name is missing): his two like-named siblings had died in infancy. There is, however, another Robert Turnbull, son of Joseph and Margaret, who was baptised on 14th December 1755 at St. Nicholas's Church, Newcastle-on-Tyne, who is also an equally possible candidate.

 

 

Newcastle-on-Tyne is an ancient borough, port and market-town and, traditionally, the County Town of Northumberland on the north-east coast of England, some 276 miles north of London. The city is sited on the river Tyne, and developed from the Roman river-crossing called Pons Aelius; a Roman fort was situated there to protect the bridge near the end of Hadrian's Wall. The modern name of the city is taken from the Novum Castellum (new castle) built around 1080 by William the Conqueror's eldest son Robert Curthose, after the “Harrying of the North” by Bishop Odo5. Newcastle remained a border fortress against the Scots throughout the mediaeval period as the local population slowly recovered, its subsequent economic growth stemming from the granting of a charter by Elizabeth I as late as 1589. This followed on from an Act of Henry VIII in 1530, which limited the export of Northumberland coal to a group of burgesses called The Hostmen who controlled the Newcastle Quayside. This monopoly brought wealth to the area, and the growth in the coal trade led directly to the development of other river-side industries, notably ship-building, metal-foundries of tin, brass and lead - of which 20,000 tones per annum were being produced in the late 18th century. The coal trade provided employment for perhaps 75,000 people, and paid duty to the Exchequer or some £600,000 per annum. The burgeoning growth in the local economy during the late 18th and early 19th century – the years of the “Industrial Revolution” - is amply illustrated by the duties paid at the Customs house which rose from £56,000 in 1772 to nearly £500,000 by 1824.6 The city was also distinguished by its sophisticated scholarly life: it was the fourth largest printer and publisher of the 18th century after London Oxford and Cambridge; in 1793, the date of the present map, the Literary and Philosophical Society was established by subscription, a full half century before the London Library, and was for many years the largest reference and library available to all subscribers in the country.

 

Glass-making has a long and distinguished history in Newcastle. A small glass industry existed in Newcastle from the mid-15th century onwards. In 1615 restrictions were put on the use of wood for manufacturing glass because of the demands of the ship-building industry and worries about de-forestation. It was found that glass could be manufactured using the local coal, and so a glassmaking industry grew up on Tyneside. Huguenot glassmakers7 came over from France as and set up glasshouses in the Skinnerburn area of Newcastle. Eventually, glass production moved to the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. In 1684 the Dagnia family arrived from Venice and established glasshouses along the Close, to manufacture high quality flint glass. The glass manufacturers used sand ballast from the boats arriving in the river as the main raw material. The glassware was then exported in collier brigs. By the middle of the 18th century, Newcastle enjoyed a pan-European reputation for lead-glass (“crystal”) and flint-glass8 of the highest quality: William Beilby (1740-1819; working Newcastle 1760-1778) was the first manufacturer in England (and possibly the world) to achieve the fusion of enamel onto glass: his highly decorated wine-glasses and decanters are today very highly prized and of a remarkable quality.9 Beilby's studio was located at Closegate, surrounded by the high-end glass manufacturing business which was burgeoning as demand escalated throughout the century. His “art” glass, though, paled into economic insignificance compared with the rise in production of flat glass (for windows) and bottle glass which took place in the second half of the century. This “commercial” production was still headed by the descendants of the Lorraine immigrants who had now been settled in the City for generations: they inter-married and co-operated, and carved out a very large industry based on the limitless supplies of cheap coal available locally in what was (then as now) an energy-intensive undertaking.

 

The glass-makers of Lorraine, who were responsible for the rise of the industry from a small local craft supplying small local needs to a world-wide industry were rather different from the journeyman labourers whom they supplanted. Glass-making had been considered an occupation in France worthy of a gentleman, rather than a “mere mechanic”, and in consequence the families who developed the industry first in France and then in England, were of a more sophisticated and educated stock. Mostly they were from armigerous families and subscribed, as Huguenots, to the newer Protestant religious beliefs before they were severely suppressed after 1685 by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had been promulgated in the interests of community stability by Henri IV in 1598. Whilst there had been a general drift to protestant England of experts (not least artists) from the Low Countries and France from the 16th century onwards, after the revocation, the gradual drift became more of a flood10, and France managed effectively to export many of its most closely-guarded trade secrets in the person of the Huguenots.11

 

Freedom to worship and civil rights for non-Catholics in France were not restored until the signing of the Edict of Versailles, also known as the Edict of Tolerance, by Louis XVI 102 years later, on 7 November 1787. This edict was enacted by parlement two months later, at the end of the Ancien Régime. By then France had effectively exported its chance of being the birthplace of the industrial revolution.

 

By the date of the present map, the Huguenot influence had waned and the families, with their Anglicised names, were considered (and indeed considered themselves) wholly English. They entered into trade with local grandees, notably landowners who were fortunate enough to have coal under their estates, as well as with the merchant elite of their City. It is clear from the map that an active participant in the industry was Sir Matthew White Ridley,12 2nd Baronet (28 October 1745 – 9 April 1813) who was a Northumbrian politician and landowner. He was the son of Matthew Ridley (1716–1778) (Governor of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Company of Merchant Adventurers, four times Mayor of and five times Member of Parliament for Newcastle) and Elizabeth White (1721–1764), daughter of Matthew White, a prominent Newcastle merchant of Blagdon Hall, Stannington, Northumberland, and sister of Sir Matthew White, 1st Baronet of Blagdon. He succeeded to the Baronetcy of Blagdon and to the estate at Blagdon Hall on the death in 1763 of his uncle. He followed his father as Governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers. He was appointed Chief Magistrate for Newcastle on three occasions and was Member of Parliament for Morpeth 1768-1774 and Newcastle 1774-1812. An impressive monument to his memory stands in the nave of St Nicholas' Cathedral, Newcastle. Ridley is depicted in full length life size dressed in a Roman toga. The long inscription gives details of his service to the community. He was a great promoter of community enterprise, but not entirely without self interest: he was known locally as `Canny Sir Matthew'.

 

 

The present panorama/plan is a rare survival as a testament to the development of an industry during the early years of the Industrial Revolution. Such views of vernacular buildings used by local industries were not the sort of thing to appeal to the broad mass of aesthetically-minded men whose idea of a landscape was more likely to be governed by the strictures of a Claude or a Van Bloemen in 18th century England. It makes no concession to the 'Picturesque' or the 'Romantic', the two new concepts which were being developed towards the end of the 18th century. In many ways it looks back to the 17th century panoramic townscapes of Wenceslas Hollar or ttheir 18th century successors Nathaniel and Samuel Buck: this is the prose of the literal-minded surveyor, not the poetry of the contemporary landscape painters like Joseph Wright13 or Richard Wilson.

 

As a document of the Industrial Revolution it gives us an exceptional amount of practical information about the site, especially about the development of various industries on the same site by the water's edge. That a 'Roppery” should be so sited is common sense: ropes were used for shipping, and ship-building and commerce are inevitably at the side of the river or sea. That glassmaking should develop in the same area reflects the greater ease of transporting coal and other raw materials by water than over-land by pack-horse or wagon. The ships that brought in the coal to the factories also traded down the east coast to London and beyond, and this was a boon for the exportation of the manufactures. Thus physical geography and available raw materials dictated the onset and of the Revolution which enriched the world in the following two centuries more than in the previous two thousand

 

1Broad sheet is a type of hand-blown glass. It is made by blowing molten glass into an elongated balloon shape with a blowpipe. While the glass is still hot, the ends are cut off and the resulting cylinder is split with shears and flattened on an iron plate. The quality of broad sheet glass is not good, with many imperfections. Due to the relatively small sizes blown, broad sheet was typically made into “leadlights” for windows.

2 Crown glass was an early type of window glass. In this process, glass was blown into a "crown" or hollow globe. This was then transferred from the blowpipe to a pontil and then flattened by reheating and spinning out the bowl-shaped piece of glass (bullion) into a flat disk by centrifugal force, up to 5 or 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 metres) in diameter. The glass was then cut to the size required. The thinnest glass was in a band at the edge of the disk, with the glass becoming thicker and more opaque toward the centre.

 

3Jane Tyzack, widow and executrix of Peregrine Tyzack, late broad glass maker, of the Glasshouses near Newcastle, contracted with and Peregrine Henzell, broad glass maker of the same place for the continuance of the factory in 1722. She herself died 1724 leaving a will. Both documents are in the Tyne and Wear archives (DX 1239). Peregrine was a name popular amongst the emigrees: it derives, appropriately enough, from the Latin 'peregrinus', meaning wanderer.

4 “Kilp” is a Northumberland dialect variant of “Kelp”. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the word "kelp" was closely associated with seaweeds that could be burned to obtain soda ash (ie. sodium carbonate: Na2CO3 ) used in glass-making. The seaweeds used included species from both the orders Laminariales and Fucales. The word "kelp" was also used directly to refer to these processed ashes. When soda-ash combined with silica and calcium carbonate is heated to high temperatures, then cooled rapidly, glass is produced. This type of glass is known as soda lime glass.

5Symeon of Durham in 1104-7 (Original MSS of Libellus de Exordio....Durham, University Library, Cosin V.II.6) describes Odo's laying-waste of Northumberland thus: “there was such hunger that men ate the flesh of their own kind, of horses and dogs and cats. Others sold themselves into perpetual slavery that they might be able to sustain their miserable lives. It was horrible to look into the ruined farmyards and houses and see the human corpses dissolved into corruption, for there were none to bury them for all were gone either in flight, or cut down by the sword and famine. None dwelt there and travellers passed in great fear of wild beasts and savage robbers.”. Genocide is not a new phenomenon.

6Samuel Lewis Topographical Dictionary of England (3rd edition 1835, III. p.2Y2)

7The immigrant glass-makers from Lorraine like the De Thysac, de Henezel and de Thifetry families were absorbed in England as Tyzack, Henzell and Tyttery, and retained for centuries their ties with glass-making in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

8Flint, found in chalk, is a rich source of silica.

9Perhaps fewer than 100 of these Beilby enamelled glasses survive. Most are decorated with armorial achievements, some of which are very grand, like the magnificent Prince William V of Orange outsize goblet. Many others, though, depict bogus coats-of-arms, perhaps a reflection on the fact that in a burgeoning town like Newcastle, many of his newly-rich customers were “not quite gentleman”, but wanted to appear to their contemporaries to be armigerous.

10The Huguenot Society estimates that a perhaps a quarter of the 200,000 Huguenots who left France came to England. These followers of Jean Calvin were often the skilled artisans and educated urban elite. Their assimilation into British society was within 40 years complete. However, as the pamphlet literature of the time shows, they could not entirely escape the accusations levelled at immigrants from time immemorial -that their presence threatened jobs, standards of housing, public order, morality and hygiene and even that they ate strange foods!

11The writer Daphne du Maurier was descended from a family of glass-blowers in 18th Century France: she wrote about her forbears the 1963 historical novel "The Glass-Blowers"

12He was a close friend of the American general and presidential candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (1746-1825) who sent him a copy of the US constitution before it was ratified. In addition to politics, he furthered the various industrial interests of the family, especially by developing the port of Blyth. They owned 14 salt pans producing more than a thousand tons of salt a year, a glass works, a pantile factory and a brewery. His father had also started a bank, later known as `Sir Matthew White Ridley and Co.'

13The present drawing makes a telling contrast with the two oil-painted landscapes of Cromford Mill by Joseph Wright (Derby Museum and Art Gallery). They are the most important buildings of the Industrial Revolution in the world; Wright places them like Classical temples in a romantic wooded landscape. The viewer unaware of their history would not guess at their importance in the development of manufacturing by industrial methods. Robert Turnbull makes it absolutely clear that his is a factual record of manufacturing, not landscape into art.

 


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