The name Three Mile Bridge came later in the 1800s when the bridge became a recognised landmark on the road for coach travellers.
At the beginning of the 19th century the hamlet of Three Mile Bridge boasted a school for boys, a farmer who was also a publican, a forge, and a joiners shop. Between the joiners shop and the forge was a pillar known as Pigg’s Folly. The route of the road at that time, crossed the Ouseburn and turned sharply to the left before passing through the hamlet of Three Mile Bridge. Pigg’s Folly stood in a crooked corner of the road.
Pigg’s Folly was a square stone pillar that stood twelve and a half feet high. The pillar was inscribed with three sun dials and some holy writing. The inscription at the bottom read as follows,
“Who would not love thee while they may,
Enjoy thee walking? For thy way
Is pleasure and delight; let such
As thee, choose thee, prize thee much.”
During the reign of Charles II, history records that a man named Mr Pigg was in the habit of walking from his house in Newcastle to Three Mile Bridge every morning. He was a man of certain eccentricities and apparently erected the pillar as a “token of gratitude for the health and pleasure that he derived from his daily promenade.” To this end he had the column inscribed “with moral lessons for the benefit of all who travelled along the road.”
The eccentric Mr Pigg in his time was described as a rebel, and a very great enthusiast. He reportedly walked for miles at a time wearing a strait coat, a high crowned hat and carried a quarter-staff fitted with an iron fork. Apparently He was well known to King Charles II, the Duke of York and throughout the kingdom.
Help for the Poor
Upon his death John Pigg left three houses in Pilgrim Street for the relief of the poor and £5 per year to the clergyman at Earsdon. Pigg’s pillar was broken up when the road was straightened in 1829. The stone was reportedly used in the building of a wall for an adjoining garden.
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1764 Highway Robbery
Stepping back further to the eighteenth century another noteworthy event at Three Mile Bridge Gosforth is recorded in the Local Records.
In 1765 the 6th regiment of General Guise was quartered in Newcastle. A soldier of the regiment named Joseph Hall held up and attempted to rob a post-chaise shortly after it passed the Three Mile Bridge in Gosforth.
On September 11, 1764, a hairdresser named William Cuthbertson suffered an attack in his post-chaise. William was returning to Newcastle after visiting Morpeth. Shortly after passing the Three Mile Bridge, a pistol was fired at the driver.
The shot blew off the driver’s cap and burnt his face “in a terrible manner.” Some of the horses took fright and galloped away. Mr Cuthbertson managed to get away and raise the alarm. The villain now without his horse attempted to attack two other people who were on horseback. The pistol flash caused these horses and riders to bolt.
In the meantime, Mr Cuthbertson arrived at Three Mile Bridge and alerted the residents to the robbery. A group went in pursuit of the villain and succeeded in apprehending him. It turned out that the villain was Joseph Hall, a soldier who had turned his uniform inside out in an attempt to disguise himself. When Mr Hall was searched, he was found to be carrying two pistols and the driver’s cap.
On August 15th 1765 Joseph Hall was executed at Morpeth for highway robbery.
Three Mile Bridge
Three Mile Bridge is described in 1825 as being of narrow construction. The bridge had recessess in which pedestrians protected themselves from oncoming coaching traffic. Between 1825 and 1830 the bridge was taken down and a skew bridge built. The purpose was to widen and straighten the road to avoid the awkward left turn into the hamlet.
This bridge was the first skew bridge (A skew arch is a method of construction that enables an arch bridge to span an obstacle at some angle other than a right angle), built in Northumberland. It was built by Mr Gibson Kyle of Ponteland.
1852 The Brandlings
The hamlet of Three Mile Bridge belonged to the Brandlings. In 1852 problems with the families coal interests led to the estate being sold at auction. Richard Welford records the sale of Three Mile bridge properties as follows:
Cottages and Close at Three Mile Bridge consisting of 83/4 acres were sold to Mr Dove for the sum of £1,020.
Three Mile Bridge Farm consisting of 117 acres was sold to J. Laycock Esq for the sum of £8,500.
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