Newcastle Upon Tyne is full of beautiful buildings, some features tend to get overlooked, some time in the nineteenth century, there was a fashion for beautiful mosaic doorwells, it’s still possible to see many of these adornments, without actually going into the building itself.
Bruce Building, Percy Street, Newcastle
The Bridge Hotel, Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ
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 Bridge Hotel, at the Newcastle end of the High Level Bridge, next to the Castle Keep, has an amazing array of stained glass. It is worth the price of a cup of coffee just to go inside and look at the windows. There is an open air beer garden to the rear overlooking the majestic river and bridges.
Location:The Bridge Hotel Castle Square, NE1 1RQ. Some people say it is the best vantage point of the River Tyne to be had any where, all we know is its called ‘The Bridge”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.