Victorian Professions


Historically the county town of Northumberland, Alnwick sits on the south bank of the Aln River, about 33 miles north of Newcastle. Home of Alnwick Castle, Alnwick has a long and colourful history with the powerful Percy family, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland being the principal landowners for the past seven centuries. As a staging post on the Great North Road, a coaching route connecting London, York and Edinburgh, the town had numerous inns benefitting from this traffic. The area itself was mainly agricultural and until the late 18th century the town's cattle market was one of its main industries, along with an assortment of grain mills along the river. It was also a centre for tanning and had smaller interests in rope making, coal mining and brewing. In the 19th century a coal waggonway (1809) was built and an iron foundry and brewing, tanning and the trades associated with tanning; skinners, glovers and shoemakers continued to employ numerous people. Prominent 19th century constructions including a dispensary (1815), later becoming Alnwick Infirmary (1888), the Court House (1856) and the Corn Exchange (1862). The latter was much desired as the town lacked the infrastructure to accommodate increased trade and tourists encouraged by the arrival of the railway branch line in 1850 and 1887. As a market town Alnwick was also a retail and service centre for surrounding areas and hosted the county quarter sessions in turn with Morpeth, Hexham and Newcastle.

In 1801 the population of Alnwick civil parish was 4,719 and by mid-century it had increased to 7,319. In response to deterioration in town living conditions, by 1850 airy residential suburbs had sprung up in the south of the town and along the routes out of Alnwick. The 1901 census records a fall in the population in the second half of the 19th century to 7,385.

These are the people in Alnwick we are interested in: