25 Sept 2020
Bull Ring, Sandhill
This is a
Current status is
Site is now pedestrianised.
'The Newcastle Courant reported that in January 1768 the gentlemen of the town had graciously provided a bull for the amusement of the poor. In 1774 Newcastle's magistrates enjoyed a baiting to the accompaniment of ringing of bells and firing of guns. There was a bull ring in Sandhill until 1768 when a spectator (Kenslyside Henzell) was gored by a bull and killed and the bullring was closed. Baiting carried on elsewhere in Newcastle however. Thomas Oliver records that a large stone with an iron ring, used for bull-baiting was found in Sandhill on July 10th 1821. The bull was tied to the ring and then baited with dogs. Spectators bet on which dog would be able to clamp onto the bull's nose for the longest time. The authorities believed that meat from a baited bull tasted better. Bull baiting was banned nationwide in 1835. The bull ring was in the Castle Keep. It's now in Jesmond Old Cemetery.'
The two illustrations above show the Sandhill area in 1736 and 1864. The first is Bourne's Town Plan, and represents the Guildhall as it was at that point. There is no trace of the bullring at this point, and records show it was likely constructed just a few decades after. However I have included this plan to provide perspective of the area at this time, as there are so few plans around.
By 1864 the ring was demolished as bull-baiting was banned in the 1830s. The bullring was very likely just to the west of the Tyne Bridge, on the pedestrian area between the Guildhall and the river.
This photograph from 1901 shows a bullring fixed in stone excavated while a group of men were completing roadworks in the area. The Guildhall and the historic buildings of Sandhill can be seen behind.
Credit: Newcastle Libraries
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