Passing of Richard Grainger, 1861

1861 "July 4. Universal sorrow and regret were experienced in Newcastle this afternoon on the announcement, which passed irom mouth to mouth, that Mr. Richard Grainger was dead. The event seemed scarcely to be real, so suddenly had it occurred ; but the solemn tone of St. Nicholas' bell too truly confirmed the intelligence. His medical adviser, Dr. Frost, called upon him about twelve o'clock, and found him in his usual health. Scarcely, however, had the doctor left, than Mr. Grainger complained of being very ill. Dr. Frost was immediately sent for, and on his return he found Mr. Graicger in a dying state. The immediate cause of death was sup- posed to be heart disease. In speaking of Mr. Grainger as a public benefactor to Newcastle, it is difficult to state precisely the value of his services. It may be said of him, " If you seek his monument look around." Like the great majority of eminent men, Mr. Grainger rose from the ranks ; and with the Stowells, Eldons, Huttons, Stephensons, and many other superior geniuses of whose fame Newcastle has reason to be proud, his name will live among posterity as an example of what integrity, perseverance, and energy can accomplish. Mr. Grainger was born in High Friar-street, Newcastle, in 1798. The humble circumstances of the family precluded any education, except such as was to be obtained at the charity schools of the town; and Richard, who was the third son, owed all the schooling he got to such an institution. Some are still living who remember him in his green badge coat, with a round, ruddy, smiling face, and quiet manner. His studies, while at school, were confined to the Bible, Tinwell's Arithmetic, and a spelling book. After leaving school he was apprenticed to Mr. Brown, a house carpenter and builder. On the completion of his apprenticeship, Mr. Batson, a wealthy member of the religious body to which Richard belonged, became interested in him, and gave him the first opportunity of distinguishing himself. This gentleman was engaged in the erection of Higham-place when Grainger set up for himself, and the new builder was engaged by Mr. Batson to build some of his houses. The old builders, who were engaged in other portions of the erections, vented their ridicule upon so young a man, " a raw lad," being so employed. However, the work was well and thoroughly done. The " raw lad" exhibited the greatest industry, rising early and working late. Shortly afterwards Mr. Grainger married, and from that period his progress was one of great success. Mrs. Grainger was the eldest daughter of the late Joseph Arundale, esq., tanner, of Newcastle, by whom he had fifteen children, ten of whom survived him. Mrs. Grainger was a wife in every sense of the word : assisting her husband by conducting his correspondence, keeping his accounts, and iu many other ways relieving him from much anxiety and care. Mr. Grainger's first great enterprize was the erection of Eldon- square, composed of handsome stone houses, of a solid, plain, and uniform style. He next projected Leazes-terrace and crescent, containing seventy first-class and sixty second-class houses, with polished stone fronts and highly ornamented. He next projected the Arcade. At length Mr. Grainger purchased twelve acres in the middle of the town (a spot known as Anderson's-place) for the sum of 50,000. Great was the public curiosity to know his object, but he kept it a profound secret, and not a particular was known until his arrangements were completed. Without Act of Parliament he had bought other old property to the amount of 45,000, being enough to enable him to open communication between some of the busy parts of the, town, distant from each other, and which could only be reached by widely circuitous ways. He now formed a central street, and his plans being too large for his own powers, he associated with him the Town Clerk (John Clayton, esq.), and submitted his designs and proposals to public inspection. The popular voice was so strong and loud in favour of their execution that the Corporation gave up the old market, which stood in the way, and taking £15,000 for the eld one, gave £36,00 for the new one, which was opened in 1835. This market is the finest in the kingdom, exceeding even Hungerford and Liverpool markets in size and convenience. At the head of Grey-street, one of the most splendid streets in England, is the great Central Exchange. This massive building is the most conspicuous in the town from its central situation, and the magnificence of its design. Grainger also built Grainger-street, 300 yards long and 66 feet wide; Market-street, 190 yards long and 66 feet wide; Clayton- street, 516 yards long ; and Clayton-street West, 220 yards long and 62 feet wide. Many other streets of less length are also Grainger's work. Thus there were nine new streets added to the town in the course of five years, and nearly one million sterling worth of property by one man. Mr. Grainger was interred at Benwell on the 10th, and no one who witnessed the profound feeling evinced by all classes could fail to perceive tint he who had passed away from our midst was a man of no ordinary mark, but one of those truly great men, who, by a happy combination of the qualities which inspire respect and love in others, not only confer the highest benefits on those around them but are themselves the objects of the affectionate regard and reverence of those for whom they have done so much."

From: T Fordyce, J. Sykes. Local records; or, Historical register of remarkable events which have occurred in Northumberland and Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Berwick-upon-Tweed..., published 1867


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