Pottergate Pant

This is the site of the earliest pant in Alnwick, which existed four hundred years ago. However, the present structure is only 150 yers old. It is in the form of a pillar, with a trough on the east side, constructed in 1873 of pink granite, with some sandstone detailing and a sandstone base. Only the main faces of the granite are polished. The carving on the east side (over the trough) is more finely detailed than other faces.

There are inscriptions commemorating William Dickson, a successful solicitor, local historian, and founder of the Alnwick and County Bank (now part of Barclays).

The English Heritage description reads: 1875, replacing that of 1790. Four sided, 3 stages, polished granite. Consists of a plinth, a blind arch on each face and a pyramidal cap topped by a lamp standard. The trough faces Narrowgate, Two bronze medallions below the cap – to left St Michael and Dragon, to right monogram “W.D.” In centre, to Narrowgate, a quatrefoil with the inscription: “Erected 1873 at the cost of Will. Dickson Esq of Alnwick in place of the old pant”. Bronze lion head spout.

William Dickson: (1799-1875) was born in Berwick and trained as a solicitor. For forty years from 1831 he filled various public offices in the county, particularly in the Berwick and Alnwick areas, and was the founder of the Alnwick and County Bank. He was also a notable local historian with a number of publications to his name, including “Four Chapters from the History of Alnmouth” and the less snappily titled “The wards, divisions, parishes, and townships of Northumberland, according to the ancient and modern divisions : shewing the annual value and population of each parish and township, maintaining its own poor, from the returns of 1831 : also the places for which surveyors of highways and constables are appointed respectively, and by whom appointed : compiled from the records and other authentic sources“.

The original pant on this site existed in 1611. At the time it was the only pant in Alnwick, so it was known as “The Pant”. When another pant was built near the market place it was known as the “High Pant” and the pant here became known as the “Low Pant”. It was replaced in 1790 with the large structure that appears in early photographs of Pottergate. That became norotious as the centre for ant-social behaviour. The local paper reported that “It is chiefly notorious as the scene of disgraceful brawling and drunkenness in our times, and as the centre of abominable nuisances which will be most easily obviated by its removal and the erection in its stead of a smaller pant, which at the same time will be more ornamental and in better taste”. The present pant was constrcuted in the hope that it would raise the tone of the area.

Early in the 20th century a public urinal stood behind the pant. It had to be removed becuase the surrounding houses overlooked it.It was later installed in the market-place.