The History of The Keelman Pub

Newburn Water Pumping StationThe Newburn Water Pumping Station was built in 1854 on a part of the site of the Battle of Newburn. The fine stone buildings housed a beam engine which was to be used to extract water from the river Tyne through a gravel filled channel. The water was used for drinking, brewing and general use by the citizens of Newcastle. The supply was not very clean, subject to ingress of salt from the tides, and the channel silted up rendering pumping impossi ble at times. The Station was soon abandoned and the engines were moved to Wylam, where a replacement pump house still stands.

The Newburn building was used as a works depot during the first half of the 20th century, and was left as a ruin by 1996. There was no roofing, the rafters had rotted, the foundations of the boiler house (the lower part) had subsided and the walls were cracked. The Pumping Station was however protected as a grade two listed building. The following photographs were commissioned as a record of the careful disassembly and reconstruction of the Boiler House into the Keelman Public House and the conversion of the Engine House into the Big Lamp Brewery.

Steam Engines for Water Pumping

The Newburn pumping engine, from the Newcastle engineer Hawthorn, was first installed at Elswick. The development of a sewage system made the town river water unsuitable for domestic purposes. Water pumped from the Lower Tyne was a suspected cause of the 1853 Cholera epidemic and 1527 deaths. Hawthorn’s engine was consequently adapted and moved to Newburn in 1854. Rapidly increasing demand necessitated the construction a second brick built pumping station at Newburn. This accounts for the massive concrete slab which now forms the car park. The new pumping station housed two engines which were made by Barclay. To obtain purer more regular supplies, the brick station was dismantled and rebuilt with it’s engines at Wylam, where it still stands. Although not used after 1867 the Hawthorn engine remained in the Newburn engine house until 1913, and was eventually dumped at the bottom of a disused mine shaft in Newburn .

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