Alnwick Mercury October 1875: Mr James Howe, who built the greater part of the present Union Court. Clayport tower, when this place was a walled town, was sold by order of the authorities, it was bought by Mr Howe who caused the principal part of the old stones to be worked up into the new houses. We have already alluded to the course which the old town wall took.
From what we can gather the tower in Clayport was a larger building than the one in Bondgate but in character and design almost identical. In the centre of the lower flat was an arch for the use of horses, cattle, carriages &c. In the north side was another archway where was placed a turn-stile to prevent anything but foot-passengers going that way while on the same side was another passage upon a much narrower principle.
The several apartments in the tower were long used after the wall has disappeared, and border feuds and warfares had been numbered with the past. By several entries in the books of the corporation it would appear that the building in more recent times was used by the parochial authorities. The different companies of the freemen used frequently to hold their meetings in some of the rooms.
In order to improve the street the tower was in 1804 ordered to be sold and cleared away. This was speedily accomplished by a staff of workmen under Mr Howe. The Union Court is still held by the relatives of this gentleman and there is every probability of its still continuing in their hands for some time to come.
While speaking of the Clayport tower we may mention that the late historian of Northumberland, Mr John Hodgson, has recorded the following :- “The judges of assize in 1702 laid a fine of £2,000 upon the county for not having a sufficient gaol”. In consequence of which the grand jury at the Michaelmas Sessions recommended the site of the “house of correction at Alnwick, and of Clayport tower in the same town, and the ground adjoining as the most proper situation for a gaol, and the town of Alnwick offered to grant the conveyance of the tower on the payment of one shilling ground rent”. This offer was not accepted on the ground that a building could be procured for less money at Morpeth.