Regeneration

Vanishing Newcastle  Saturday 3rd June, 2000

The heavans opened, unusually for this part of the world. I took some rainsodden snaps, but lost the will to live in the drizzle. I went somewhere nice and warm with some likeminded folk, so this week here are some views suggested by the regeneration that  proceeds apace.

This is the junction of narrow Low Friar Street and Newgate Street, the original north-south route in the mediŠval city. This counted as the centre of town, and was marked by a white cross. This is still shown on the tiling of the roundabout, and in the name of a lane in the adjacent Eldon Square mall, Whitecross Way.

The building site was some shops and a regional centre for wedding receptions and ballroom dancing that has been demolished to make way for a commercial multi media leisure development.

Next to the building site is the city's massive 1920s Co-operative store. The archtectural style was much influenced by the discovery of Tutankhamon's tomb and a vogue for all things Egyptian. The massive square section vertical columns were supposed to reflect the art of the ancient Empire.

The spire of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, near the Central Station, can be seen in the background. Newcastle is one of the few cities with two cathedral churches, the other being the Anglican St. Nicholas' lying near the castle.

To the north of the Co-op and the Church of St. Andrew is the junction of Gallowgate to the left, Blackett Street to the right, and Percy St. ahead. The wall to the right is one edge of the Eldon Square shopping complex that pervades the city centre.

Gallowgate lead to the gate in the city walls beyond which the judicial executions took place, Blackett Street was built in 1824 and was named after John Blackett famous eighteenth century Mayor, Percy Street was named after the regional feudal lords the Percy family. They moved from Yorkshire and bought Alnwick Castle in 1309. Harry Percy was immortalised by Shakespeare as the famous rebellious character Harry Hotspur in Henry IV Part I. The titles Earl Percy and Duke of Northumberland were created by the monarch in 1766. The original name for this street before the advent of the Percys was Sidegate meaning the street leading to the Side, an ancient thoroughfare leading down the steep bank to the quayside and the river crossing.

A western part of the city, Benwell, has suffered from accidental planning blight.  Communities with chronic unemployment hence less wealth and non resident landlords with no investment in the area caused a snowball effect of deprivation and systematic destruction of the  housing stock by those living there.

These two views are of Caroline Street. These streets were built during the first couple of decades of the last century and were better housing for the massive workforce employed in the Armstrong engineering and armament works at the foot of the slope on the banks of the Tyne.

The battleground is now being thinned of housing and the remaining units revamped in an attempt to instil a new community and pride into this notorious crime capital of the city.

The buildings at the top of the picture are the rear of the shops along Adelaide Terrace, recently visited by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, after a multi million pound facelift.

This is the next parallel street, Maria Street. The demolition proceeds apace.

Notince the entrance doors in pairs, showing a type of housing peculiar to this region, the Tyneside flat. One dwelling was entirely on the ground floor, and the larger one on the upper. Later years saw additional bathroom and kitchen accommodation being added to the rear of these properties in so called offshoots.

The other side of the same dwellings showing the position of the now missing offshoots. The doorways on the upper floors used to lead directly onto a stairway leading to the rear yard where the coal shed and outside lavatory were located.

Back near the centre of the city, at the foot of Westgate Hill, and its junction of the newly constructed St. James' Boulevard named after a football ground. This replaced the previous Blenheim Street named after the 1704 victory of the battle of Blenheim, in the War of the Spanish Succession. A combined Anglo-Austrian force of 52,000 under J. Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Eugene of Savoy surprised and defeated some 60,000 French and Bavarian troops at the Bavarian village of Blenheim. The battle eliminated Bavaria from the war and marked the beginning of France's decline as a military power in Europe.

Here is the headquarters of one of the residuary bodies set up after the demise of Tyne and Wear as an administrative Metropolitan County. This is the home of NEXUS the Passenger Transport Authority since February 27th and must have cost millions.

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