Grainger Market Shops

So British city centres all look the same? They are dominated by the same chains and brands. This could never be said of Newcastle’s beautiful Grainger Market, the stores and cafes here are as diverse a bunch as anyone could wish. The Grainger Market is home to over 100 small businesses and self-employed independent traders.

Every second Saturday of the month there is an art and craft market in the Grainger Market Arcade offering a range of locally made produce on sale.

On Fridays many people, usually locals go to the weigh house to see how their weight is doing.

More on the Grainger Market

Grainger Market

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Gibson Street Baths and Wash House

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On the corner of New Bridge Street and Gibson Street, by the side of what is now the busy commuter route, the A193, heading east toward Byker.
Gibson Street Baths closed in 1965, and has not been used as swimming pool since then. Many of the orginal tiles and fixtures are still there but are inaccessible. The building is used occasionally as a badminton court.

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National Provincial Bank of England – Dean Street

On the corner, where Dean Street meets Mosley Street, be sure and look up! Once upon a time this was a proud looking bank building, like so many on Mosley Street, now it’s a place to eat and drink. The giant caption emblazoned on both Dean Street and Mosley Street, “The National Provincial Bank of England”, In 1970 the bank became part of NatWest.

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Milburn House

Milburn House was built in 1903. The Newcastle Chronicle recorded its size as 300ft on The Side, 160ft on Dean Street and 200ft in St Nicholas churchyard. And it is tall 6 storeys plus a basement or at least a ground floor on the corner of Dean St and The Side which turns into a basement higher up the hill. Its footprint is vast as well roughly triangular with major facades on three widely separated streets.

There are different entrances on different levels, each level in the building is indicated with a different letter, designed like an ocean-going liner, with floors labelled deck-style with A at the top and G on the ground floor.

The internal public spaces in Milburn House are beautiful, they include mosaics, painted picture panels and stained glass. It is a fairy-tale interior tiled in ochre yellow and deep green in a grand sweep of Art Nouveau.

Designed to resemble the bow of a ship pointing towards the River Tyne, communal areas are identified with deck letters rather than numbers and the spacious atria and halls surprise the visitor at each turn.

After exploring this area face the Cathedral and take the steep hill (known as the Side) down past Agora bar. Notice the bust above the door of Milburn House. This is Admiral Lord Collingwood who was born in 1748 in a house above this site. During the Battle of Trafalgar, it was Collingwood who took over command of the fleet after Lord Nelson was killed.

Milburn House is not open to the public, still some parts of it are visible and accessible to casual passers by on Dean Street.deanstreeet6

On Dean Street if you poke your head through the front door two paintings/sculpures meet your eye in the doorway-hallway.
The first “King Charles 1st entry to Newcastle”.

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The second
“Earl Percy setting out for Otterburn”.

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Milburn House was built to be like a ship or a liner ready to launch into the Tyne. Each floor is named with a letter rather than having a number. With floor A at the bottom and floor F at the top, or is it the other way around. Read More – PDF

The View

Opinion is quite deeply divided about the architectural merits of this building, standing on the northern slope of Long Sands, on the dividing line between Cullercoats and Tynemouth, just below the beautiful Grade 1 Listed St George’s. The new cafe/restaurant finally opened in July 2016 after what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, construction seemed to go on for years, as time went by the building seemed to get bigger and bigger, dwarfing the shabby public conveniences that it replaced. A condition of the builds seems to have been that accessible toilets continue to be provided, not just for customers, but for anyone using the beautiful beach.  The owners of the View also own Crusoe’s, the cafe at the other end of the beach.  Surely there cannot be two better views from any other cafe’s in the region.

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Crusoe’s Long Sands

Crusoe’s was the first cafe, in recent times, to be situated on the beach, apart from its more modest predecessor, ‘Cafe C’ which was seriously damaged by fire. Crusoe’s is nearly always busy, it has a wonderful location, a the southern end of Long Sands,  a favourite meeting point for many locals.

Crusoe’s Long Sands

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Surf Cafe – Tynemouth

Another great success story, there always seems to be something happening at the Surf Cafe, walk past any evening, even on the wettest, coldest night of the year, and its humming with activity, life and energy. Small and compact, it’s amazing how many people they can get in there, live music is a common attraction. Great to see a place doing so well, particularly, when, on so many evenings, it’s the only sign of life. “Is anybody alive out there”. Well certainly they are in the Surf Cafe, part of Tynemouth’s burgeoning surfing community.

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Riley’s Fish Shack

Something strange is happening at the coast, new and exciting retail businesses are setting up. For those of us that have been around a while, this is a new development, Cullercoats and Tynemouth have not changed much in the past few decades, but this is something fresh and new. Riley’s Fish Shack is one such establishment, but there are others, Crusoe’s, The View and the Surfers Bar to name but three others. All of these establishments seem very successful and occupy spectacular locations. Can hardly wait to see what will happen next.

Riley’s Fish Shack

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Bigg Market

The Bigg Market, where medieval Newcastle citizens once sold and bought a type of barley known as ‘bigg’. The Bigg Market is famous for drinking and partying and has been for long time. When the Victoria Tunnel was finished in 1842, a big party was thrown for the workers in the Bigg Market.

Even with around twenty pubs in this area alone, you still get queues forming outside some of them as most get packed out very quickly. The majority are drinking bars only, but there are numerous Indian and Italian restaurants close by that tend to fill up during the night.

At the bottom end of the Bigg Market one notable pub worth mentioning is Balmbra’s which stands on the site of an old music hall. It was here the famous song “Blaydon Races” was first performed. Also just across the road you can find the impressive St Nicholas Cathedral, one of the oldest  buildings of Newcastle.

Bigg Market

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Blackfriars Building

Blackfriars is a real step back in time. The first thing you’ll notice is the noise. There is none. This little haven is one of Newcastle’s hidden gems and, befitting the quite air, was once home to Dominican friars who arrived here in 1239. The church that was once here was destroyed during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Monasteries, but its outline is still visible today.

The building the Friars used as their eating area is now an award winning bistro/restaurant. Blackfriars, which also has tables outside on the greenery, so you can grab a bite to eat in the tranquil air of this delightful square. Alternatively bring your own sandwiches for a picnic.

Blackfriars

Blackfriars was one of the largest friaries in the country. It is now the only remaining medieval friary in the City and one of Newcastle’s oldest surviving buildings, the friars of the Dominican Order, who lived here from the 13th century until 1539. As Dominican Friars wore black cloaks over their white tunics, they were nicknamed Blackfriars.

The Blackfriars came to England in 1221 and eventually settled on this site in Newcastle in 1239. This friary, the second on the site after the first was destroyed by fire in 1248, was built around 1250.

After Henry V111’s Dissolution f the Greater Monasteries in 1539, the church was demolished and the other (still remaining) buildings were used as meeting rooms by nine craft guilds of the town. These included the Skinners and Glovers, Cordwainers (shoe smiths), Butchers, Tanners, Blacksmiths, Fullers and Dyers, Bakers and Brewers, who practised their crafts nearby. The guilds continued to use the upper floors of the buildings until the 19th century.

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The ground floor was used as almshouses for the poor and people lived here until 1951. By then the buildings were severely run down and threatened with demolition in the 1960s, but was saved and restored between 1973 and 1981.

When the Pope kept denying Henry V111 the right to divorce Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, Henry began a program of religious changes to break England away from the power of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1534 he declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and two years later started the closing of Roman Catholic religious houses in England and Wales, transferring their land and wealth to the Crown.

The Prior of Blackfriars in Newcastle, who was loyal to the Pope, spoke out against the Kings actions and was forced to flee to Scotland in 1536. In 1539 Blackfriars surrendered to the Crown. Each friar was given a small payment to help him survive until he found a new occupation.

In the 1960s Blackfriars was threatened with demolition. However the building was saved, largely through the efforts of Alderman Peter Renwick, Mayor of Newcastle in 1963 and 1964, and Sheriff in 1967.

It was recommended that premises for small businesses and craft workshops be created. During the restoration, archaeological excavations were carried out and the ruins of the church were revealed.

In 1980 as part of the celebrations of the 900th anniversary of the founding of Newcastle, H.M Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, visited Blackfriars and unveiled a commemorative plaque. The restoration was completed in 1981.

Blackfriars today continues the artistic craft of the guilds, some of the cloister buildings now house a number of craft workshops, while the former refectory became a restaurant. Beside the restaurant a covered archway leads to the courtyard of the friary.

In the past the courtyard probably contained a small garden and was surrounded by a cloister (covered walk), the cloister building and the church. Today, all that is left of the church are the foundations that show its outline in the grass. The courtyard itself is now a quite public green space with grass and trees.

Alderman Fenwick’s House

Some interesting facts about Alderman Fenwicks House. One of Newcastle’s finest buildings, originally built around 1660. The building closed in 1963 and proposals made to demolish it. Used as a business centre since 1997, the building was restored by the Tyne and Wear Buildings Preservation Trust. Open to the public on heritage open days. The building has Newcastle’s most beautiful cupola.

Alderman Fenwicks Cupola
Alderman Fenwicks Cupola

Blackfriars – Dominicans in Newcastle

Saturday June 18th 2016, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle came to St Dominic’s. A celebration of  eight hundred years of history at the Jubilee Flower Festival. Eight hundred years since the Dominicans were founded, and eight hundred years of Mayors in Newcastle.

A Newcastle church celebrated 800 years of Dominican history with a magnificent feast of flowers. St Dominic’s Priory Church, on New Bridge Street was decked out with impressive floral displays to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Order. The Jubilee Flower Festival was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle on Saturday June 18th, in the year that Newcastle also celebrated 800 years of the mayoralty. Councillor Hazel Stephenson, newly installed as Lord Mayor, used the ceremonial Mayoral Sword to cut a special cake commissioned to celebrate the Dominican anniversary.

In the buildup to the festival as flower arrangers from all over the North East visited St Dominic’s, at Red Barns. There was an overwhelming level of support for this event with many people have offering their time, talents and encouragement. Teams of volunteers put aside hours of their time to clean and polish the church. This has brought young and old together to ensure all corners of the church are seen in their ancient splendour adorned by the beautiful flower arrangements on window-sills, church pillars and other designated areas.

Cathedral Church of St Nicholas

The elegant Lantern Tower (1448) is particularly ornate and the Cathedral’s crowning glory. Inside there are a host of interesting features (guidebooks are available). On leaving the cathedral turn left and left again (past the old the old church yard) and you’ll arrive at a paved area.

Rebuilt in 1359, it remained the tallest building in Newcastle for over 300 years. It’s now the sixth tallest structure in the city and the second tallest religious building. The Lantern Tower was nearly destroyed by Scottish invaders in 1644. The Tower survived largely because Scottish prisoners were placed as hostages inside.

Every year on Trafalgar Day a simple ceremony is held here to honour Admiral Lord Collingwood, now buried alongside Nelson in St. Paul’s, London.

Cathedral Church of St Nicholas
Cathedral Church of St Nicholas

The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas is a Grade 1 Listed Building and one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Newcastle. The spire has dominated Newcastle’s skyline and served as a prominent landmark and navigation point for ships in the River Tyne for over 500 years.

The Cathedral is filled with beautiful stained glass. A beautiful roundel depicting the Madonna feeding the Christ Child is the only surviving medieval stained glass. More modern stained glass works such as in St George’s Chapel were erected in honour of two of Tyneside’s late 19th / early 20th century industrial pioneers who both died in 1931 within weeks of each other.A stained glass window in St George’s Chapel celebrates Charles Parsons, with an angel above St Christopher shown carrying Turbinia.

Turbinia was the first turbine driven steam yacht with which Parsons astonished the Queen’s Navy at the Spithead naval review in 1897.  There is also a stained Glass tribute to Charles Parson in Westminster Abbey.  On the north wall of St Cuthbert’s Chapel is a representation of the Mauretania with the Blue Riband, an award held for 22 years as the fastest liner crossing the Atlantic.

St Nicholas’ Cathedral is a lot older than most people think, its unusual lantern spire was constructed in 1448, for hundreds of years it was the main navigation point for ships using the Tyne.

The Cathedral hosts one of the finest Flemish brasses in the United Kingdom. Originally covering the tomb of Roger Thornton, three times mayor of Newcastle, several times Member of Parliament, successful merchant and great benefactor to the Cathedral, the Thornton Brass (pre 1429) is believed to be the largest brass in the United Kingdom. This commemoration to Roger Thornton, his wife, seven sons and seven daughters an be seen behind the High Altar.

The Chancel furnishings were designed by Ralph Hedley (1848-1913), a woodcarver, painter and illustrator, best known for his paintings of everyday life in the North of England.

Just to the north of the Cathedral stands a bronze statue of Queen Victoria erected to commemorate 500 years of the Shrievalty (the jurisdiction of a sheriff) of Newcastle. Sculpted by Alfred Gilbert and unveiled in 1903, two years after Queen Victoria’s death, the statue was a gift from W H Stephenson, a company director and politician who held the office of Mayor of Newcastle seven times.

Ouseburn School

Burma or Byker? The former Ouseburn school, makes an arresting sight, on the outskirts of Newcastle, with its oriental style turrets. Rather like the Turnbull Building, it has an imposing presence. The architect F.W Rich designed the Turnbull building as well as Bolbec Hall. Hard to believe that all this large imposing building was once a school.

The School opened 1893 to accommodate 928 scholars; 352 infants on the ground floor, 576 older children on the first floor, with the top floor used for cookery, workshops, laundry, art. There were two play yards, one for infants and girls, the other for boys. The schools was aimed more at technical subjects rather than simply ‘book learning’.

Ventilator tubes led from every room to “up cast shafts” in the towers. Radiators admitted fresh warm air via piping from steam boilers, all class rooms had fireplaces – cookery room had an inbuilt oven range. The school cost £17,035, a lot of money at the time.

Ouseburn School now i4 Quayside
Ouseburn School now i4 Quayside

The building features Dutch type gables, decorative moulded brickwork and pagoda style turrets similar to those found on Burmese temples. The schools opened in 1893, closed in 1960s and the building re-opened in 1993 as a Business Development Centre, now called an Enterprise Centre.

The green field on one site of the school is known locally as ‘Grannys’ Park, it has a footpath made from gravestones, from the Ballast Hills burial ground.

The School opened 1893 to accommodate 928 scholars; 352 infants on the ground floor, 576 older children on the first floor, with the top floor used for cookery, workshops, laundry, art. There were two play yards, one for infants and girls, the other for boys. The schools was aimed more at technical subjects rather than simply ‘book learning’.

Ventilator tubes led from every room to “up cast shafts” in the towers. Radiators admitted fresh warm air via piping from steam boilers, all class rooms had fireplaces – cookery room had an inbuilt oven range. The school cost £17,035, a lot of money at the time.

The building features Dutch type gables, decorative moulded brickwork and pagoda style turrets similar to those found on Burmese temples. The schools opened in 1893, closed in 1960s and the building re-opened in 1993 as a Business Development Centre, now called “I4 Newcastle Enterprise Centre”.

The green field on one side of the school is known locally as ‘Grannys’ Park, it has a footpath made from gravestones, from the Ballast Hills burial ground.

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i4 Quayside

i4 Quaysidehttp://www.newcastleenterprisecentres.co.uk/centres/i4-quaysidei4 – Quayside offers high quality office and workshop accommodation. It has a serviced central reception along with two meeting rooms and a large private car park for…