Collingwood Street Door-well

Collingwood Street stretches from Central Station to St Nicholas Cathedral, it’s a busy street, busy with traffic, rather than pedestrians. Most people see the street from behind the window of a car, from that perspective it’s easy to miss these rather grubby mosaics which adorn some of the door wells on this once grand street.


If you are wondering whether these photos have been touched up a little? They have, also the sun was shining that day. The sun does not shine every day in Newcastle.

A little bit of work and the mosaics could look this good once again, but would anyone notice?


Although Collingwood Street is a great place to find mosaics, there are plenty more in Newcastle, you just need to know where to look

Newcastle’s Keelmen

Newcastle's Keelmen, Jesmond's Subway Mosaics
Newcastle’s Keelmen, Jesmond’s Subway Mosaics

Keelmen operated shallow draughted wooden boats used to transport coal on shallow River Tyne to large Collier ships waiting in deeper water. Keelmen wore a distinctive costume of blue jacket, yellow waistcoat, bell-bottom trousers and blue bonnet. The Keelman’s Hospital, pictured, still standing, was built in 1699.

Scottish Siege of Newcastle

Town Walls – Jesmond Subway Mosaics

The Scots laid siege to the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne from 3 February, when the town was formally asked to surrender, until 19 October, the same year, when the Scots took the city by storm. Tynemouth fell on 27 October 1644 and the Scots were then able to control the Tyneside coal trade for a second time.

Town Wall, Orchard Street
Town Wall, Orchard Street

Stephenson’s Rocket

Stephenson's Rocket - Jesmond's Subway Mosaics
Stephenson’s Rocket – Jesmond’s Subway Mosaics

Is it Stephenson’s Rocket (1829) or ‘Locomotion No1 (1825)? The Rocket now resides at the Science Museum in London, but was built at the Forth Street Works, still standing behind Central Station in Newcastle,, Robert Stephenson’s Rocket marks one of the key advances in rail technology by one of the premier engineers of his age.

Beach and Shipyards – Mike Davies

These two stained glass works at Monkseaton Metro are incorporated into each end of the original glazed canopy protecting passengers on the platform from the vagaries of the weather.  ‘Beach’, executed in a bold and colourful style, was designed from a schools competition won by Rosalind Hurst.  ‘Shipyards’ is more abstract in its treatment of the business of the river.

Newcastle Public Art on the App Store

A History of Newcastle in Mosaics

There are 14 Mosaic Panels, each depicting a different period in Newcastle’s 900 year history. A sad story really some of the panels are much the worse for wear. These scenes from Newcastle’s 900 year history were commissioned in 1980. Who knows how they found their way to this odd location, a poorly lit Jesmond Subway.

The subway is easy to miss its under the A1058 – Jesmond Road, a 2 minute walk from Jesmond Metro, the panels are even easier to miss. Worth saving.

Jesmond’s Subway Mosaics on YouTube

Great Fire of Newcastle and Gateshead 1864

53 people were killed and 400-500 injured in this massive fire which started at a worsted manufacture in Gateshead, before spreading to a bond warehousese storing sulphur and nitrate of soda. The explosion when it came, was heard 40 miles away in Alnwick and Hartlepool and left a crater.

Great Fire of Newcastle and Gateshead - Jesmond's Subway Mosaics
Great Fire of Newcastle and Gateshead – Jesmond’s Subway Mosaics

Newcastle’s Old Tyne Bridge

The Tyne once had Bridges with houses on them, it wasn’t just Italy, once this was the reality in Newcastle too!

Newcastle’s Old Tyne Bridge - Jesmond's Subway Mosaics
Newcastle’s Old Tyne Bridge – Jesmond’s Subway Mosaics

Viking Raids on Northumbria

On June 8th 793, in an unprecedented attack which astounded the whole of Europe, a raiding party of Vikings from Norway attacked Lindisfarne. Monks fled in fear and many were slaughtered. For seven decades the Vikings would continue raiding the coast of Britain, eventually launching a full scale invasion in 866.

Viking Raids on Northumbria

Phoenix Cobbles – Maggie Howarth

Revival is the theme of the pebble mosaic, which shows a phoenix rising from the flames, symbolising Gateshead’s regeneration after a period of industrial decline.

Phoenix Cobbles-Maggie Howarth (1994)
Phoenix Cobbles-Maggie Howarth (1994)

Art Gateshead Riverside

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Bruce Building

Bruce Building, 115 Percy St, NE1 7RY
Bruce Building, 115 Percy St, NE1 7RY

The Bruce Building on the Haymarket is a former brewery, constructed between 1896 and 1900 on the site of the Hotspur Hotel, as the new premises of Newcastle Breweries Limited. The door at the front gives some indication of the monumental interior within, walk around the back and there is a large Arch inscribed with “”Newcastle Breweries””.

The Bruce Building does not reveal too much from the outside, a large ornate doorway on Percy Street and an even larger Arch behind the building, also inscribed with ‘Newcastle Breweries’ . Inside there is a lot more of interest.

Entrance to Bruce Building
Entrance to Bruce Building

Plans were announced recently to turn the Bruce building, the headquarters of the former Newcastle Breweries Ltd on Percy Street, Newcastle, into student flats. But as developers began to draw up plans to renovate the Grade-II listed building, they came across a rare WWII fire watchers’ post. In-situ at the back of the site, the cylinder look-out is one of only two known to exist in England. The only other in-situ example is on North Shields’ ferry landing.

The plans include retaining most of the commercial uses of the ground floors, including the Hotspur pub. The ground floor and basement of the Bruce building would become a restaurant/cafe. On the first floor it is proposed to create commercial/office space. The other floors would become 60 student bedsits. Council planners describe the interior as “impressive with stunning ornate tiling and decorative plaster ceilings”. The building has a marble staircase, with most rooms having stained glass windows, and a mahogany-panelled former boardroom.

Entrance to Bruce Building
Entrance to Bruce Building

The building was designed by local architect Joseph Oswald for Newcastle Breweries and was erected between 1896 and 1900. A bricklayers’ strike during its construction added to the time it took to complete. It is an imposing, three storey building constructed of red Dumfriesshire sandstone and red bricks from Commondale, North Yorkshire, on a grey granite plinth. It is described in Pevsner’s Buildings of England as having ‘much Jacobean carved ornament, first floor oriels and a corbelled corner turret with copper fishscale dome’.

As well as housing offices the Bruce Building and surrounding brewery complex contained a mineral water works, beer-bottling plant and wine and spirit stores in the basement. There was also a stable for 36 horses, a blacksmith’s forge and coopers’ and joiners’ shops. An engine and boiler house provided enough current to light the entire premises, work the hoists, operate ventilators and run all the equipment in the mineral water factory. Under the stable yard were cellars which were reached via the brewery’s bonded warehouse in nearby St Thomas’ Street.

The building has a monumental interior with oak floors, mahogany doors and panelling, a marble staircase, stained glass windows and decorative tiling.

As large and comprehensive as the new complex was, it could not accommodate the other department of the brewery’s business that was seeking extra capacity. The brewing of ginger beer needed space and this requirement could only be met by constructing a separate building across the Haymarket in Prudhoe Place. This picture shows the ginger beer works in August 1973 when they were part of a pub called the Farmer’s Rest. The building was demolished in the early 1990s. The Bruce Building can be seen in the background.

Fire Watchers Tower Behind Bruce Building
Fire Watchers Tower Behind Bruce Building

Interior Door, Bruce Building. This doorway was used in the 2000 film Billy Elliot as the entrance to the court room.In the 1950s the Bruce Building was compulsorily purchased from the brewery for the extension to King’s College, part of the University of Durham. King’s College became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963 and the Bruce Building was until recently still occupied by University departments. Its use as a higher education establishment brings the story of the Bruce Building full circle as the site was formally occupied by the Percy Street Academy, Newcastle’s first college founded in 1806 by John Bruce. Among its ‘old boys’ are the engineer Robert Stephenson and allegedly, the artist William Henry Charlton.

Entrance Bruce Building
Entrance Bruce Building

More Information
Building Details
Local Press


Central Arcade

Central Arcade
Central Arcade

Just before Grey’s Monument and Monument Metro Station, the beautifully tiled Edwardian Central Arcade (1906) on your right hand side. This is another of Grainger’s creations and the perfect way to end your stroll through Newcastle’s ‘golden heart’.  The building is bounded by Grainger Street, Grey Street, and Market Street with entrances serving all three streets. The tiles, ceiling and mosaic floor are all exceptional.  Rather surprisingly the mosaic floor dates from 1980. One of the most beautiful buildings in Newcastle, invariably with a busker, the building is remarkable for its beauty, helped in no small part by the stunning mosaic floor and Burmantofts tiles on the walls.

Central Arcade
Central Arcade

What a wonderful floor


Only been in place since 1980, the floor that is not the Arcade, the arcade was built after a fire in 1906


More tiles in Newcastle can be found here :-


St Mary’s R.C. Cathedral

Clayton St W, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5HH
St Marys Cathedral Clayton St W, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5HH

The Cathedral is situated in the heart of Newcastle’s Grainger Town, opposite Newcastle Central Station. There is a garden facing the station dedicated to Basil Hume, former Archbishop of Westminster. Basil Hume was born in Newcastle. The Cathedral is normally open and it has some stunning stained glass. There is a cafe.

St Mary’s Architect was Augustus Pugin, sometimes known as God’s Architect, he was responsible for the interior redesign of the Palace of Westminster after a fire in 1832.

Statue of Basil Hume, in the Basil Hume Garden.



St Mary's Cathedral

St Mary’s Cathedral Mass Monday to Friday 8.00 am and 12.05 pm Saturday and Public Holidays 10.00 am Sunday 8.00 am (spoken), 10.00 am (cantor), 11.30 am (choir), 6.30 pm (music group)
Cathedral of St Mary on Vimeo

Cathedral of St Mary on Vimeo
St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,_Newcastle_upon_TyneThe Cathedral Church of St Mary is a Catholic cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the mother church of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and seat of the Bishop of Hexham…

Centurion Bar and Cafe

Centurion Bar, Newcastle Central Station

The Centurion Bar in Newcastle Central Station was originally the First Class Waiting Room. In 1893 the railway company decorated the room with specially commissioned, hand made Burmantoft tiles which were very expensive and not usually used in public buildings. For many years the room was used by the British Transport Police, the tiles were covered over and largly forgotten about. The story of their neglect would make a great documentary film. In a move that would have had those elegant Victorians spluttering into their Earl Grey – this wonderful decor disappeared from view when the British Transport Police moved into the building and painted over the tiles with a garish shade of red. They languished for years under layers of concrete and paint and only came to light when redevelopment work began in 2000. The tiles are reputedly worth millions.

The waiting room is now a bar-cafe and is quite literally a work of art. To view the tiles it is best to go in during daylight hours, at night the tiles are not illuminated as well as they might be. The Victorian tiles that adorn the walls are worth over £3.5 million, considered by many to be the finest example of Bumantofts tiles outside of a museum, but then Newcastle is a great museum ‘with walls’ waiting to be discovered.

As part of an 1892 scheme by North East Railway architect Willian Bell the waiting room from John Dobson’s Central Station was clad in fabulous tiling to emerge as the First Class Refreshment Room. It is decorated from floor to high ceiling in Burmantofts Baroque style top-lit by a tile clad skylight, with columns dominating both ends of the room. A 14 ft square mural by Byron Dawson takes pride of place between two 20 ft high Doric obelisks.

Mural by Byron Dawson – Centurion Bar

Burmantofts, of Leeds, was the best known producer of tiles and architectural ceramics until the firm closed down in the late 1950’s. Other great example of Burmantofts tiles in Newcastle are in the Central Arcade (1906), Portofinos on Dean Street, the Beehive Pub in the Bigg Market