Tension had been building up in Newcastle during the summer of 1839 due to Chartist campaigns around the region, and as a result meetings in the Forth—a familiar meeting ground—were banned on 29 July 1839. The Northern Political Union sent a request to the mayor to hold a meeting in the area on the evening of the 30 July. The refusal was delayed until 6pm, by which time Chartists had already begun to assemble and a short procession began which ended at 8.30pm. The mayor and around 500 police and dragoons assembled to clear the streets near the Forth and confronted crowds who jeered and threw stones. The result was a riot which took the authorities several hours to subdue. Although there were no casualties, the ‘Battle of the Forth’ has been described as Newcastle’s ‘Peterloo’ and marked the most significant confrontation between the public and the authorities in the city during the Chartist period.
W. Maehl, ‘The Dynamics of Violence in Chartism: A Case Study in North-eastern England’, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, 7:2 (1975), 101-119; D. J. Rowe, ‘Some Aspects of Chartism on Tyneside’, International Review of Social History, 16:01 (April 1971), 17-39.