The Tyne's 1,600 keelmen
paid from their wages to finance the Keelmen
's Hospital which opened in 1701 on what is now City Road overlooking the river.
The exhibition follows the journeys of the keelmen
who ferried the coal along the River Tyne; the coal heavers who spent their working lives moving coal from the ships to London's docks and those who delivered coal to individual homes by lorry.
No less stimulating is the employment of Turner's Keelmen
Heaving in Coals by Moonlight (1835; Fig.
During the 1630s 'above eight hundred' keelmen
were 'Scottishmen and Borderers', and by 1740 over half the 1,600 keelmen
in Newcastle had Scottish origins.
The Almshouses was constructed in 1701 for Tyne and Wear's keelmen
and was last used as student accommodation but is now vacant and disused.
There were some real ding-dongs when the keelmen
in their distinctive waistcoats and hats clashed with press gangs near their Sandgate home; more often than not it was the visitors who got a good shoeing and were unceremoniously dumped in the Tyne.
It aims to revive the fortunes of a building that is hugely symbolic but vulnerable, raise the historical pro-file of the keelmen
as a mainstay of the economy, society and culture of Newcastle and revive the signifi-cance of the Wesleys to the keelmen
, Newcastle and Britain.
THE KEELMEN Keelmen
of the river, scant memory, Of these men of the Tyne.
It was built in 1701, when there were 1,600 keelmen
in Newcastle, who played a vital role in the commerce of the river by ferrying loads between ship and shore.
There was an 8in high batten separating the walk from the hold, so keelmen
had to be sure-footed.
He published books such as The Pit Children, The Death Pit, about the West Stanley Colliery explosion of 1909 which claimed 168 lives, The Keelmen
and The Weird Tales of Northumbria.
He also noted the magnificent Keelman's Hospital, a home for sick and retired keelmen
on City Road, opened in 1701 and paid for by the keelmen