Before Grey Street and his Monument



This is part of a map of Newcastle upon Tyne, showing (one wants to write shewing) the city centre in the early nineteenth century before the grand streets were built. But not before they were conceived – you can see the markups of numerous ‘intended street’ on the plan. Those who know the city may find the absences of Grey Street, Grainger Street and the Grainger Market, quite interesting.

Only a generation later a chap would be able to say to his children “I remember when this was all fields”. Eldon Square’s there though. And Stowell Street (but without Chinatown). The blank area to the east of Newgate Street (here labelled Nun’s Field) pre-shadows the clearance, demolition and remolition which would happen two hundred years later. Most of the place is still quite recognisable though.

This is one of John Wood’s maps. He was an Edinburgh surveyor who produced 52 plans of Scottish towns and and nearly 60 (known) plans of English and Welsh ones. The Newcastle map was published in 1826 or 1827.

For Sale: Collapsed Bank

There’s an odd bit of business going on at Gateshead Council. As we can all see when we cross the bridge by Metro, the bit of riverbank which collapsed into the river Tyne in mid January 2011 has been left broken and untended for nearly two years now. It’s nearly impossible to find out anything about it on their website though as none of the obvious search terms turn up anything at all on the matter. So as regards what’s currently happening, I’ve no idea. That would take an FOI request and about a month.

I blogged about it last year. It has interrupted a national cycle path and nobody seems to care about it. Who is responsible for fixing it? Probably, one would think, the landowners. Who is that? The Council, again, you’d think.

But no. At least not yet.

As it happens, that particular little bit of the once delightful Pipewellgate is owned by Nexus, the very folk who carry you over the bridge by Metro. Apparently, thirty-odd years ago when they were building the bridge, they needed a couple of bits of land either side, so they bought the necessary. Well that’s not quite true – the bridge was built for the original Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive, before the mass privatisation of all our local services. Nexus just ‘kind of inherited’ the land. All these years later, it’s still theirs. And now they would like very much for the Council to own it back.

Now they are – as responsible landowners providing right-of-way to public cycle-pathers – going to fix the damage. That’s underway, apparently, despite any visible evidence. And this will be to the satisfaction (whatever that means) of GMBC before the title deeds are transferred to the council. So that’s OK then. But they’d also like “to receive a percentage (to be agreed) of any future sale/development value“.A gift that is, as yet, both unlimited and eternal. Wow. Nice.

As the report (Agenda Item 22, dated 24 November 2011, page 119 of 156 in the PDF, their page 117) says, “The area has little potential for development due to its current use as highway and footpath/cyclepath and also its location and topography.” So I don’t quite know why that ‘consideration’ is being proposed without raised eyebrows. Once they’ve got the land back to the council, why would they expect to have or deserve any further interest in it?

Like I said. An odd bit of business.


NorthEastern Population by Age, 2011


How many people there are, by age, in each of the mutually exclusive regions labeled GHD (Gateshead), NCL (Newcastle upon Tyne), NT (North Tyneside), ST (South Tyneside) and SU (Sunderland).

Spiky, innit?

Figures from an excel spreadsheet freely downloadable from a page at the ONS 2011 Census results.



In the issue of The Engineer dated 2 February 1917 are pictures – on pages 110 and 125, of the Pyrmont Bridge. This is a swing bridge over the Darling Harbour at Sydney. Sydney has, of course, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, built by the same people who had put up a similar structure over the River Tyne at Newcastle in 1926. And Newcastle also has Armstrong’s Swing Bridge of 1876. It’s almost as if the Australians are copycatting the Geordies.


Not too many places on the High Street where you can pop in for a bag of bridges. The Motherwell Bridge Company is, today, quite a large concern. This is an advert from 1917, found amongst all the adverts piled in at the back of the volume containing all of the issues of the journal The Engineer for that year.

This one’s from a Bristol company, Llewellins (an unusual spelling), also still around after 95 years – which is good to see. The great pile of worm and spur reduction gears in the ad is impressive, but there’s no sense of scale. They feel big though.

To get a sense of scale, there’s nothing quite like putting a working engineer in the picture, standing next to the product. Let’s see the ad for one of our very own Steel casters, John Spencer of Newcastle upon Tyne at Newburn.

Finally, still in 1917, there’s this Ferodo ad. The brake-pad people. They are still around but I’m wondering if they are now so embedded into the infrastructure that nobody needs to mention them any more. Last I heard their name was on some small pieces of plastic scenery adorning a scalextric set. And that was when I was a youngster.

What’s on

Week commencing Sunday October 21, what’s showing this week at the local cinema? Fifty years ago, that is.


On at the Odeon is The Miracle Worker, bizarrely X-certificated, supported by the B-picture The Lamp in Assassin Mews – a comic murder romp with Francis Matthews (aka Captain Scarlet or Paul Temple). At the Queen’s – our local widescreen cinerama theatre at the time – is the sunken epic Barabbas, one of the less often shown spectacles on the box (has it ever been on?). Then, up the road, there’s Dr No supported by another B-movie called Deadly Duo. All links lead to IMdb.

It is the time of the Twist, as the evenings advertised in the local palaces of dance proclaim.


It’s Saturday, October 20:

And this is what’s on the TV, this very evening, exactly 50 years ago to the day:


Thing is, it’s exactly 50 years ago – and Brucie’s still on the box. Turns out 1962 is the same as 2012, October 20 being a Saturday in both these years. So – what else was on this commercial channel, in the North East of England, that evening? There was – later – the imported:


With the delightful Poncie Ponce – a Spanish name if ever there was. Many will remember the series from ABC in the US; a decade or so before Hawaii-5-0.

Another chap still around is the (now) 90 year old Patrick MacNee who, 50 years ago, was teamed up – pre Mrs Peel – with Honor Blackman, also still with us.


Remember when TV went to bed with the rest of us? Before midnight:


It would appear, however, that the Reverend Henry Bentley died in 1983 at the age of 75 or thereabouts.