Low Fell, Gateshead
Carter's Well, Low Fell
17 Aug 2020
Low Fell, Gateshead
This is a
Current status is
Designer (if known):
Grade II Listed
'Once a mere spring "oozing out of a hillside", where in summer people had to watch all night and take water up with a saucer. The water supply to the well was substantially improved when a drift was excavated in this direction from Sheriff Hill Colliery (HER 3780) and water was found in old coal workings.
Thomas Wilson, chairman of the local committee at the time, described the well in his poem "Pitman's Pay" - "No other spring wiv it can vie; it is a tap that ne'er runds dry - a cellar where a rich supply suits every rank and station. And it awd age myekes tipple fine, wors mun, aw think, be quite devine; for it's a batch of Adams wine we gat at the Creation". Another verse reads: "The reet ower the Fell and by Cairter's famed well, where the witer like wine ye see a'ways runnin', and is better by far then the poor blashy yel, folks get in Newcassel or even in Lunnon". In another poem Wilson praises the well once more: "Upon their vicars pant they dwell, a varry muddy waiter, compared wi' canny Carter's Well, se famed for drinking waiter… here [at the Sovereigh Public House near to the well] oft wor drouthy lads will meet, and sit till they be fuddled; and then the Well's the place at neet, for lasses getting cuddled".
In 1824 when Durham Road was built two long cobbled approaches were built to the well from the road to allow cattle to drink from it. The work said to have cost £20 which was a sizeable sum of money at the time. Carter's Well was Low Fell's main source of water until the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company supplied the village with a water supply in the late nineteenth century.
Gateshead Council closed the well in 1895 having found a sample to be contaminated with foreign bodies. It has remained closed ever since, but the pump was restored in 1994. Carter's Well - stone inscription says 1856. Cast iron pump on Durham Road with spring handle and domed cap. On stone step. Spout above a stone dog trough. The well itself is on a lower level below Durham Road. Stone archway built into retaining wall of Durham Road. Stone inscription below arch says "Carter's Well 1856".
Substantial vaulted space under Durham Road through springhead opening. Local residents have formed the "Friends of Carter's Well". They are hoping to secure funding to improve the setting of the well, develop a garden and seating area. Discussions are ongoing with Gateshead Council.'
Listing Description (if available)
The two maps above illustrate the area of Low Fell and in particular Carters Well. The first map further above, published 1862, labels the 'Carters Well & Watering Place' on the main road to Durham through the settlement. It was adjacent to the Gateshead Arms Public House and on the south end of the main centre of the village. Low Fell was still seperate to Gateshead at this point, lying in the rurality between it and Chester-le-Street. It grew as part of the main thoroughfare between London and Edinburgh, giving the reason as to why so many public houses and rest stops were built on the road. The well was the main source of water for the are at this point.
The second map, dated from 1898, does not actually show the well as a significant interest apart from a small W. As noted above it closed in 1895 due to foreign bodies, potentially Cholera, by Gateshead Council before it could do lethal damage. It's not really known where the village's source of water came from after this, but there are a number of denes in the area. A small W is also noted above Albert Drive which may signify a new well. At this point Saltwell Park adjoined Low Fell to Gateshead, though the main road still lacked a full row of buildings.
Photograph of Carter's Well in 1933. The image shows the same metal pump that lies extant at the site today, and even at this point was closed so likely the children were just playing with it. The inscription, saying 'Carters Well', can also be seen on the stone wall behind them.
Retrieved from Newcastle Libraries