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The History of Newcastle’s Last Public Execution



On this day, March 14, 1863, the last public execution in Newcastle took place at Newcastle Gaol. The famous prison, located in Carliol Square, was the site where 19-year old George Vass met his maker on the gallows.
His crime was the brutal murder of Margaret Docherty, who he also raped. He was witnessed on New Year’s Eve, 1862, dragging Margaret towards the West walls of the city, where he then dumped her lifeless body. As there were eyewitnesses,  Vass’s trial in February 1863 lasted a matter of hours with the jury finding the defendant guilty in just 20 minutes. ‘Frightful Outrage And Murder Of A Woman In Newcastle’ ran a headline in one local paper.

His execution was a very public affair. Gallows were erected on top of the South West walls of Newcastle Gaol in Carliol Square. Thousands turned out to view the spectacle. One eyewitness recalled: “Enormous crowds were anticipated.

“Looking down as far as the eye could carry, the whole thoroughfare had the appearance of a street paved with human heads.

“These people assembled as early as 5.30am. By 8 o’clock the crowds was so dense that dozens of people had fainted, and these were passed over the heads of the multitude to the outside.”

Unlike at the execution of Forbes beforehand, the authorities made the decision to remove Vass entirely from interacting with the crowd and set the execution on the prison roof. Although still technically visible, in reality, to most of the gathered public it would have been as close to a private execution as they would experience. One newspaper reported that ‘nothing is visible from the street but the beam of the scaffold.’

credit: newcastle university broadsides

Although it was not as visible as usual Vass was the last person to be publicly hung in Newcastle. The next execution, the hanging of John William Anderson 1875, had been moved to behind the prison wall. From then on all executions took place out of public sight. The only indications that the grim task had been undertaken was a posted notice on the external walls of the prison, confirming as much, and the raising of a black flag above the prison walls (even the flag was eventually removed by the Home Office in 1902).

Between 1868 and the eventual closure of the prison 12 prisoners were hanged inside the prison, all of them male.

Would you go to witness such an event?


Raoul Moat Drama Coming Soon To ITV



It looks set to be one of ITV’s biggest dramas this year and The Hunt for Raoul Moat is being brought to screen by the same people responsible for smash hit shows Line of Duty, Bodyguard and Vigil.

It was confirmed last April that production on the series had commenced, nearly 12 years after Moat gunman shot ex girlfriend Samantha Stobbart and her new boyfriend Christopher Brown, with Brown dying from his injuries. After fleeing Samantha’s home in Birtley, Moat, who had been released from prison just days earlier, went on the run, shooting on duty policeman PC David Rathband in the face as he sat in a patrol car on the outskirts of Newcastle and leaving him blind.

From there, Moat headed for Northumberland, forcing the quiet village of Rothbury into a lockdown as police launched a frantic search for him. The hunt for Moat reached its conclusion with a tense stand-off between the killer and the police on a riverbank, with Moat eventually shooting himself and dying from his injuries as he was rushed to Newcastle General Hospital.

ITV announced three parter The Hunt for Raoul Moat almost a year ago, as filming got underway in Yorkshire, with a cast including ex Bodyguard star Matt Stokoe as Moat and Inspector George Gently actor Lee Ingeleby as police chief Neil Adamson.

ITV have yet to officially announce an release date for The Hunt for Raoul Moat, but is expected to be form part of the channel’s spring programming.

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Peter Kay halts Newcastle show and ‘rushes off stage to help as fans fall ill’



Peter Kay Newcastle upon Tyne

Peter Kay’s Newcastle show was thrown into chaos when three audience members fell ill.

According to the Sun the Phoenix Nights star halted his latest show and rushed to assist when he spotted a fan on the front row had become unwell and needed assistance.

Minutes later, a member of the audience was escorted out of the venue in a wheelchair.

An onlooker told the Sun: People near the front started shouting for an ambulance.

‘Peter asked if they were being serious, then he asked for the big lights to go on and stewards ran over to see what was going on.

‘He then went off stage for around 10/15 mins and one person was seen getting wheel-chaired out.’

After the situation was under control he got on with his show, but two more audience members then reportedly become unwell.

Were you there – did you witness it? Let us know on our Facebook page –

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International Women’s Day – The North East’s Most Influential Women – North East Updates



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On this International Women’s Day, March 8, we highlight the extraordinary contributions made by women in the North East throughout history and the present. For hundreds of years, the women of the North East have shaped our world, and without them, things wouldn’t be the same.


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