Newcastle Civic Centre is a unique modern British building, very distinct from the majority of Victorian Civic Centres in other parts of the country. It cost 4.8 million pounds to build and was designed by local architect George Kenyon. Eight years in construction, the building was designed to relate to Newcastle’s history, it’s built like a castle, there is a garth or courtyard in the centre, it’s surrounded by big wide walls, there is a moat and a grand ceremonial entrance, the tower is lit up at the top a bit like St Nicholas Cathedral. Prominent artists and sculptures were contracted to add features to enrich the building. Newcastle’s Civic Centre is unique, probably the most prestigious post war civic centre in England.
The Civic Centre itself was opened in 1968 by King Olav of Norway, it is still where the city council operates from. Look out for three golden castles on top of the tower which form part of the city’s coat of arms, while the seahorses recall Newcastle’s maritime heritage. Just before the arches leading to the entrance, you’ll notice on the wall the impressive sculpture ‘Tyne God’. Beyond it, under the arches, is an equally arresting work, ‘The Swan’. The five bronze birds represent to the five Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.
Outside on the path towards the church are three flagpoles where there is the carved stone commemorating the visit of former US President, Jimmy Carter, who famously drawled in his southern accent to the cheering crowds, “Howay the lads”, a popular cry of the followers of Newcastle United.