Visitors are reminded they are entering a special area. Specially commissioned waymarkers are positioned at the main gateways to Ouseburn, whether its descending into the valley from the City Stadium Park, or via the burn footpath near the Toffee Factory. This ‘Gateway’ art takes the form of turquoise coloured bottles and monuments.
As well as the ‘gateway’ art there are plenty of murals by the Ouseburn School, now Newcastle Enterprise Centre, these murals are often reflected in the river when the tide is high and the light is right.
Other works of art are easier to miss, Newcastle City Council maintains a list, now out of date, of Art that once formed a walk around the Valley. Some of this Art is long gone or has been replaced, the valley is forever changing. A more up to date and comprehensive list exists on this web site.
These Lead cups serve to remind people of Ouseburn’s once thriving Lead industry.. Employing many young women, the majority of whom would be lucky to survive into old age. A stark reminder of a time when ‘Heatlh and Safety’ was not a priority.
Colonel Blenkinsopp Coulson was a leading figure in the RSPCA and the NSPCC. He founded the local Dog and Cat Shelter in Spital Tongues. From this monument you can look down onto the riverside to where the Victoria Tunnel staithes once stood. The monument has two fountains: the larger one for humans, and around the back the smaller one for animals!
The inscription on the front side of the plinth reads:
“William Lisle Blenkinsopp Coulson 1841 – 1911 erected by public subscription in memory of his efforts to assist the weak and defenceless. Among mankind and in the animal world”
The inscription on the rear of the plinth reads:
“what is really needed is an allround education of the higher impulses true manliness, and womanliness justice, and pity. To try to promote these has been my humble but earnest endeavour, and until they are more genuinely aroused, the legislature is useless, for it is the people who make the laws” (w.l.b.c.)
Statue Unveiled 27th may 1914, by the right honourable Johnstone Wallace, Lord Mayor. Herbert Shaw, Sheriff. A.M. Oliver, Town Clerk.
Location: Cut Bank, City Road. This slim sculpture has the words “sisal”, “hemp”, “coir” and “jute” carved into it, recalling the days when this area supported a number of industries including rope-making. Also includes a very short excerpt for a longer poem by Geordie Willis’, ‘Under Byker Bridge’, A Lament for Byker gone.
UNDER BYKER BRIDGE
A Lament for Byker gone.
Byker come alive again
Surely your suffering was not in vain? Though, like a snake of death
“The Wall” enfolds you, before you die, the world I will tell
Of this place called “Byker” which exists doon by the “Born”
And gave birth to self-made millionaires and folks who’ll never lorn.
It’s made of wartime widows
Who scrub young lasses floors
It’s made of folk like Kipper Shields
Who gave his limbs to war
Still, characters from old Byker live
Like Davy Martin and Miss Pigg
Down to Popperwells for sweets galore
Up to Selby Wilsons one man store
He sold sweets and also cut hair
And in his blindness made the stove a chair
Many a born upon wor arses
One of Bykers well known farces
Hannah Shippon the ribbon queen
Sold socks on Sundays
New and clean
Down to Mark Toneys for an ice
On a Sunday evening
“The Hoyin School” an evil thing
But every penny had its fling
On to Harry Potts to place your bets
Or pick up the winnings for Norma X
To Freddie Shepherds you took your rags
After tying them up in paper bags
“Brough Park” could claim a womans pay
“Barsanti’s Pawn-shop” could save the day
It was a second-hand shop that is true
Now they call them “nearly-new”
Aggie Marrison’s fruit and veg on tick
Charlie the woodman provided the stick
“Dyer Broon” kept his glasses clean
Marty, his wife, the hostess queen
Por Margaret Ann who lost her hair
Through losing her husband and only son
In a war, yet to be won
Young Jean who died of the dread T.B.
No chance to sit a bairn upon her knee
Poor Angie Cunningham too died of T.B.
But they’ll never be dead to you and me
Parrishes checks will never rattle
Under her pillow as part of her chattles
Old “Geordie Potts” as tall as a steeple
Head of his family,king of his people
“Benny Sharkey”, the boxing great
“Geordie Willis” his right-hand mate
“Dickie Potts” the big time bookie
Runaway Pete, the bookies rookie
Think again of the ginger pop
Bought at a house, not a shop
Pies and peas all steaming hot
>From the savoury smelling Albion Row shop
Annie Ellots for cinder taffee
Marth Lucas’s for “two things a hapney”
On Saturday morning just for kicks
To the “Minerva” to see Tom Mix
Moskies roar from the railings ramp
While Harriet, bundle on her head
Washes and cleans to bury her dead
Sally Bailes and her sister too
Had “earphone” hairstyles, all brand new
Pledgers for your fancy veil
Or mevvies Beavans’s,–if they had a sale!
There was a big “wesh-hoose”
That kept all Byker clean
And those what wanted beauty, went ower to Jesmond Dene
It was Bykers sons who made the ships
And many sailed the sea
Those untold heroes lived and died
Because of you and me
The sons and lovers had a dream
To keep their Byker free
Tis because of the lads under Byker Bridge
That the “Born” still flows to the sea.
Located throughout the Ouseburn Valley. Made from Steel and Glass, commissioned by – The Ouseburn Partnership, by Lewis Robinson 2002. The project comprises a series of waymarkers designed to highlight the main routes through the valley, to encourage more walkers and cyclists to use the area.
The Waymarkers draw on local history and culture for their inspiration and are interconnected by a trail of bottles marking the route through the valley. Lewis Robinson worked closely with the partnership and community to develop the project.
Made from stainless steel and glass, commissioned by Metier, Newcastle City Council & The Sponsors Club. This land mark piece, reflects the energy and immediacy of the city in sparkling stainless steel, glass and light, acting as a link between the city, the Eastern Quayside and east end, bringing the two sides of the Ouseburn valley closer together. With its frosted glass surface and its curved stainless steel facing towards the river in a rising open V shape, the piece makes reference to the V shape of the Ouseburn Valley.
The asymmetrical top reflects the triangular shapes made by the silhouette of the Byker Wall against the skyline, making a link between one side of the valley and the other.
Made from Stone and commissioned by the Ouseburn Art Project
A circle of seats and stone blocks tell story fragments by Chris Bostock and Malcolm Green – storytellers based at the Cumberland Arms. The sword dancers and fiddle players, who also meet at the pub, suggested the motifs carved into the stones. Local children have helped to design the flowers carved into the seats and the lettering on the standing stone, which tells us we are on “The Grassy Hill”.
Made from galvanised steel and commissioned by the Ouseburn Trust. Apparently emerging from the wall, the horses are depicted using a wire frame.
The relevance of the horses is that the building houses a riding arena for the Stepney Bank Stables. This is on the first storey of 51 Lime Street. It is perhaps surprising that Newcastle has an indoor riding arena.
Made from etched glass and commissioned by the Art on the Riverside Weather Vanes Project, this work is an etched glass canopy located over the entrance to the Sailors Bethel. The artist developed the ideas included in the work with the children of Byker Primary School.
L. S. Lowry painted the Sailors Bethel in a painting called ‘Old Chapel”
Located close to the mouth of the Ouseburn where it enters the River Tyne. Consisting of two steel panels, interlinked weather forged metal fish, housing coloured glass inserted within the framework, and protected within a double glazed unit and strong mesh. This artwork represents the coming together of two rivers to form a large river.
The idea was arrived at through an original artwork depicting fish & children in Christ Church Nursery garden.
Thirty five metres below this Monument, the Ouseburn River flows, in a culvert. Some of the places through which the Ouseburn flows are engraved at the base of the Monument. Woolsington, Callerton, Brunton, Gosforth, Jesmond Dene, Ouseburn Valley.
The City Stadium is little more than a pleasant green space, with the remnants of a cinder track going around it. For nearly fifty years this place was known as the Ouseburn Tip. A protracted attempt to create a landfill over the culverted Ouseburn River. Before 1907, this area was a steep-sided valley that divided the east end districts of Newcastle from the town centre.
The Ouseburn Tip could not support the housing originally planned by Newcastle Corporation, and in 1961, Councillor T. Dan Smith proposed that the area be used as a sports stadium, to be completed in time for the Empire Games of 1966. These plans never materialised.
The City Stadium is not of course to be confused with St James’ Park