The River-god Tyne was one of nine ‘masks’ which adorned the Strand front of Somerset House in London when it was rebuilt in 1786.
They were designed by the architect Sir William Chambers. The centre one represents the ‘Ocean’ and the others represent eight English rivers – Thames, Mersey, Humber, Tweed, Medway, Dee, Tyne and Severn. They were carved in stone; five by Wilton and four (including the Tyne) by Carlini, who were two of the early Royal Academians.
The River Tyne is represented by a head having a beard in three plaits surmounted by a basket containing coals and surrounded by various emblems of trades of the district.
It was made familiar in the North of England through the frontispiece of Volume II of Brands’ “History of Newcastle upon Tyne” which was published in 1789.