Salters Bridge in Gosforth is a twin-arched bridge crossing the Ouse Burn. The earliest phase of its construction is medieval. Studies show that there were at least three later stages of development, plus contemporary repairs.
Do you think that bridges are often overlooked? We hurtle over them in our cars and sometimes fail to notice we have crossed one. However, before the use of motor vehicles, for travellers on foot, or horse and waggon the crossing of a river could cause considerable risk, especially after heavy rains. A bridge could be a lifeline between communities and a necessity for the cross country delivery of supplies.
The names of Salters Bridge carrying Salters Way over the Ouseburn and nearby Salters Road suggest that these roads were found along the route taken by the old Salters as they moved salt from the salt pans on the coast.
Listed Grade 1 Scheduled Ancient Monument.
In the distant times of the 13th century acquiring salt from the sea was a principal occupation. Until the late 18th century, there were salt pans at Seaton Sluice, and from 1236 there were salt works at Blyth owned by the monks of Newminster Abbey near Morpeth. Salt was obtained by the evaporation of seawater by burning coal.
In those days, salt was a vital commodity used for far more than flavouring food. Salt was used to preserve meat and cure fish.
Salters carried their loads inland from coastal areas for delivery to monasteries and other places in the hills.
The Salter’s Tracks
There were several tracks used by the Salters. A track called Salter’s Peth ran through Hollywell Dene from Seaton Sluice also running through Earsdon and Longbenton. It crossed the Ouseburn at Raundelsbrygge (Salters Bridge). The track continued through Gosforth Colliery in what we recognise today as South Gosforth, past Haddricks Mill and St Nicholas Church, on its route towards Coxlodge via Salters Lane (Salters Road), before heading out into Northumberland. Salters Road has a long history in Gosforth.
Running over the Town Moor to Two Ball Lonnen was another ancient Salter’s track. This track continued to Denton, Lemington and over the Tyne ferry to Stella and eventually to Slaley and Blanchland Abbey. A Salters Road is still marked on maps of the Cheviots telling us that Salters travelled far and wide into Northumberland.
It is a sad state of affairs today when our traditional pubs are under threat, their heritage stretches back so many centuries. The Shoulder of Mutton Inn standing on the site of Dickinson Crescent (before that at the bottom of Salters Road), would have served a useful purpose for these travellers in those days.
Perhaps at Salters Bridge, we can still feel the essence of Gosforth in earlier times. Having kept its countryside appearance it pleasantly reminds us that Gosforth was once rural in aspect with good farmlands and woods that used to grow over the area.
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