Sometimes it pays to look at your feet, particularly when you are walking around a city as interesting and diverse as Newcastle. At one time it must have been a mark of status to have an interesting and lavish doorway, these mosaic ‘doorwells’ were almost a nineteenth century logo, the first thing you saw when you came into a building. A sign of wealth and success, today most people ignore them or just don’t notice.
The Manors Power Station was built between 1901 and 1904 to generate electricity for the Newcastle Electric Trams system and the new electrically driven cranes on Newcastle’s Quayside. Electricity generation for the trolly-bus system stopped in 1966, after which the building was used as a maintenance centre. Later it was used as an indoor car park. During the construction of the Metro system in the 70’s a full size mockup station was constructed in the Turbine Hall for training purposes.
The best time to see this building is in September when it normally is accessible for the Heritage Open Day Weekend. Guided Tours are provided on this weekend and are quite enthralling.
Stagecoach owned the building until 1996, after which it was bought by City Church. The building was renamed CastleGate and the Turbine Hall is used as a Conference Centre. The Turbine Hall still houses a giant 50 ton crane, once used to lift new turbines into place.
As you walk down Dean Street to the Quayside, four doorways still have mosaic floor. These mosaics are visible even when the retail outlets are closed. Marco Polos- 33-37 Dean St, Offices 31 Dean St, , Sounds Alive 27-29 Dean Street..
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
Not many people walking past will even notice this ornate doorway, look closer and the caption “Northern Assurance Company” becomes visible. Collingwood Street was once Newcastle’s Wall Street, festooned with banks and insurance companies.
Northern Assurance contributed $2.5 Million dollars after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, the largest insurance payout ever made at the time. Shortly thereafter the company became a limited liability company. Today the doorway is cracked and looking like its suffered itself from an earthquake.
Newcastle has many extraordinary doorways, not just this one.
Half way down Northumberland Street, just opposite Fenwicks, this amazing door, now an entrance to a Nobles amusement arcade.