Tragedy at Tarset Street

Tarset Street
Tarset Street
On May 31st 1941 a young girl, Irene Page, fell into a bottleneck crater left by a bomb. Boy Scout Ernest Smith, was lowered down to her on a rope, but passed out. Two firemen also descended into the hole before people realised that it was full of lethal gas. Irene and her would-be rescuers all died in the crater.

At the end of Coquet St, take the alley on the right into St Ann’s Close (next to the street sign for High Level Walk 178-55). From these seats there are striking views of the much lower Lime Street in Ouseburn. Tarset St was bombed in 1941.

Lime Street Slipway
Lime Street Slipway

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Mariners Wharf, Newcastle Quayside

Quayside Mariners Wharf
Quayside Mariners Wharf
By 1939 the Victoria Tunnel’s riverside staithes had long since disappeared. They had been the site of an extravagant opening ceremony for the Tunnel on 7th April 1842. A crowd of spectators cheered and cannon fired as a train of eight wagons emerged out of the Tunnel. Four of the wagons carried coal whilst the others were occupied by various local dignitaries and a band of musicians!

The Mayor of Newcastle opened the Tunnel and a party was held for the workers in the Bigg Market.

Because of the gradual gradient of the Tunnel, loaded wagons were able to roll along a standard gauge rail track down to the river. A rope was tied to the last wagon in the train and a stationary steam engine at the top of the Tunnel hauled the empty wagons back up to the pithead.

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Ouse Street

Location: Ouse Street

This Victoria Tunnel entrance was built through the retaining garden wall of 14 Ouse Street. It has survived because it was the only entrance built on private land. At the end of the war, most of the shelter fittings were removed and nearly all the other entrances were filled in.

In 1939 people prepared for war. People were instructed to practise “”Air Raid Precautions”” and protect themselves from bombs dropped by the German Luftwaffe. In Newcastle the city engineer developed plans to convert the Victoria Tunnel into a communal shelter for 9,000 people.

It cost £37,000 to convert the Tunnel into an air raid shelter, this against a budget of £9,000. It was cleaned of coal dust and in some parts white washed. Several concrete blast wall were added to stop potential bomb debris flying along the Tunnnel. The Crawhill Rd entrance was the main problem and reason for it going over budget.

Electric lighting was fitted and a new concrete floor was laid. Wooden benches and about 500 beds were installed along the walls, and chemical toilets enclosed in canvas cubicles were built near entrances.

Seven new entrances were completed Claremont road, Hancock Museum, St Thomas Churchyard, Ridley Place, Shieldfield Green, Crawhill Road and Ouse Street.

At Ouse Street you could walk straight into the Tunnel, but other access points looked like subway entrances and involved walking down a steep corridor until you reached the Tunnel.

There is no doubt that the Tunnel was a dark, damp and uncomfortable place to shelter. Many people were afraid to use it. Those that did remember sitting with their families and neighbours, exchanging gossip and often singing songs while waiting nervously for the ‘All Clear’ from up above. An inspector visited the Tunnel in 1941 and reported that the attitude was ‘better damp than dead’. He was concerned about the conditions but concluded that ‘as this was a mining district, the persons who shelter in the Tunnel are possibly better fitted constitutionally to resist underground and damp conditions than those in the south’.

At the end of the war most of the fitting were removed and all of the entrances except Ouse Street were closed. This entrance had been built on private land, the garden of number 14 Ouse Street. Luckily it was left open and it is now possible to step into the Victoria Tunnel and explore Newcastle’s hidden heritage.”

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Gibson Street Baths, Newcastle

Gibson Street Baths
Gibson Street Baths

This municipal washhouse and baths was designed by F H Halford and built in 1906-7. During the war the reservoir of water was used by the national Fire Service (you can still see the faded sign next to the door). On the night of the Goods Station bombing, water pipes criss-crossed from here to the station as firemen desperately fought the flames.

Separate mens and womens entrances are still preserved with stained glass and plaques visible above the doorways. High up on the building is the name of the Baths with the crest and moto for Newcastle.

The Baths closed in 1965, the pool is boarded over, ornate tiles still remain. The building is used on occasions as a badminton court. A multi million pound restoration, similar to that enjoyed by Manchester’s Victoria Baths would be most welcome.
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Christ Church CE Primary School, Shieldfield Green

Christ Church School Shieldfield
Christ Church School Shieldfield
Location: Christ Church CE Primary School, Shieldfield Green. NE2 1XA

In 1941 Christ Church was badly damaged by an air raid which devastated Shieldfield and again in 1974 when a fire destroyed the organ and much of the chancel. There was a war time entrance to the Victoria Tunnel at Christ Church, no longer visible

New developments in and around Shieldfield have concentrated on student accommodation to keep pace with university expansions. About a quarter of the population in Shieldfield are now students.

Christ Church CE Primary school

Christ Church CE Primary school hope that your child will be happy here and make excellent progress. All our staff will do their best to ensure that your child enjoys their education and is given every… parish church has served Shieldfield, now an inner city suburb for 150 years. It was built at a cost of £6,000, largely provided by the Boyd family in memory of…

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Shieldfield Green

IMG_2260Location: Shieldfield Green, NE2 1YB

Newcastle’s 1960s slum clearance programme saw tower blocks replace slum terraces of typical Tyneside houses. Many of these had been destroyed or damaged during the 1941 air raid when 100 bombs were dropped on Jesmond, Byker, St Peter’s, Walker and Shieldfield. 50 people were killed. There were 71 serious casualties and 140 people slightly injured.

The raid happened so quickly that few people were able to make it to the entrance of the Victoria Tunnel on Shieldfield Green. Many people hid in brick shelters that had built in the streets. One of these took a direct hit with a high explosive killing nearly everyone inside.

The new University Footbridge, connecting city Campus East with the main part of the city, brings Shieldfield Green within easy walking distance of the city centre. Shieldfield Green feels like a quiet peaceful oasis compared to the bustle of Northumberland St.

Shieldfield was a vibrant and stable community throughout the industrial revolution and was formerly home to many of Newcastle’s prosperous families, before other city suburbs became more fashionable. Pleasant Row, now Falconer Street, was the 1810 birthplace of arms manufacturer and founder of Elswick, Lord Armstrong.

The area previously boasted a windmill, a colliery and the mansion house on Shieldfield Green – where King Charles I was permitted to play bowls and golf in the 1600s.

Today Shieldfield Green is a peaceful place, geographically it may be right next to the city centre, but its feels like an oasis of peace and tranquility.

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Northumbria University, City Campus East

City Campus East
City Campus East

Location: Northumbria University,City Campus East

Northumbria University Campus East opened in 2007, the building design is inspired by two sides of the brain, the imaginative, spatial side, for the School of Design, and the structured practical side for the School of Law and Business.

New Bridge Street Rail Goods Station occupied this site during the war and was the main depot for the City’s rationed food. On September 1st, 1941, the Goods Station, took a direct hit during a devastating raid on Shieldfield.

The stored, sugar, butter, fat and oil, fed a raging inferno that burned for 48 hours and smouldered for days. Luckily 70-80 wagons of fruit and vegetables were saved by volunteer railway workers and the next days deliveries were made on time.”

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Shield Street

Shieldfield Towers
Shieldfield Towers
Location: Shield Street NE2 1XX

The three sixties tower blocks, King Charles Tower, Lort House and Pandon Court contrast sharply with the remaining terraces houses below. Each of the three blocks has 15 floors and 90 flats. Constructed about 1961 – 1966, Height to roof 43m, they were the high water mark for sixties utopian planning

The blocks have been refurbished as part of the Modern Homes programme and are popular with people who want the convenience of city centre living but the sense of community that comes with living in an established residential area like Shieldfield.

Shieldfield: Triptych Towers: T. Dan Smith’s ‘Brasilia of the North’ Home About This Blog About Shieldfeld T. Dan Smith’s ‘Brasilia of the North’ Norah’s Story Methodology Reflective Account Bibliography

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Northumbria University Footbridge


Location: Northumbria University Footbridge

The University Footbridge reunites two parts of the city divided by the Central Motorway. The two main sites, City Campus West and the spaceship like City Campus East face each other across a motorway linked by a futuristic £4 million footbridge.

Over the weekend of 5-7 May 2007, Northumbria University erected their landmark footbridge across the central motorway in Newcastle Upon Tyne. This is part of the £100m+ City Campus development. There is some timelapse footage from one of the universities webcams of the installation.


Northumbria University

Footbridge Northumbria University
Footbridge Northumbria University
Newcastle Polytechnic was formed in 1969, when Rutherford College of Technology merged with other colleges clustered on this site.

The ‘Poly’ was designated a university in 1992. Major redevelopment in 2007 included the new footbridge over the motorway and the Five Figures, a row of bronze and granite sculptures by Norwegian Artist Nico Widerberg.

The Sutherland Building, formerly the Medical School of Durham University (1887-38), was a naval warehouse during World War II, and the Dental School of Durham University (1945–78) is the home of Administrative Departments including Finance & Planning and Human Resources.

Northumbria University - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Northumbria University – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia University, officially the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, is a university located in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. A former polytechnic,…
Nicolaus Widerberg: Past in Future | Kings Place could hardly be more appropriate that Nicolaus Widerberg’s first one-man show in London should take place at the new architecturally outstanding Kings Place Gallery. Extravagantly gifted, Widerberg has exhibited throughout Europe, Scandinavia in particular, as well as the USA and comes from one of Norway’s most distinguished artistic families. His father Frans, for instance, has long been acknowledged as the foremost figurative painter since Edvard Munch.

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Brady & Martin Court, Northumberland Road


Location: Brady & Martin Court, Northumberland Road

When the Victoria Tunnel was still being used as waggonway, this was the Northumberland Cricket Club grounds. Development after 1880 included Dame Allan’s School, the College of Medicine, and offices and laboratories belonging to Brady and Martin, the chemists and surgical instrument makers.

The Brady and Martin Court building fascade still survives, notice the “”Be Ready”” logo above the door. From a distance it looks like “”Brady””, the two letter ‘e’s are very small, most people never notice them.
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City Pool and Hall, war time entrance Victorial Tunnel

City Pool
City Pool
The Pool and concert hall were built in 1927 to replace the original City Baths designed by John Dobson. There was another Victoria Tunnel entrance nearby, now covered by John Dobson Street.

People from Shieldfield and Ouseburn used the Tunnel to get home from town or from the Olympic Cinema on Northumberland Road. Unlike the blacked out streets, it was lit and offered shelter from the rain.

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St Thomas Church (war time entrance Victorial Tunnel)

St Thomas Church
St Thomas Church

Both the Victoria Tunnel and Pandon Burn cross under Barras Bridge. The Church of St Thomas the Martyr was designed by the local notable architect John Dobson. It opened in 1880 and replaced a medieval chapel that had stood at the end of the old Tyne Bridge. The Civic Centre was built in the 1960s on a site that previously had been 19th century terraced housing. In 1977 during President Carter’s visit to Newcastle, part of the infill of Pandon Dene south of the Civic Centre, subsided under the weight of the crowd.

The Armstrong Mounument, also on Barras Bridge, with its beautifully engraved metal plaques is worth studying.

Another war time Tunnel entrance was constructed here. In 1941, an inspector reported that “as this is a mining district the persons who will shelter in this tunnel are possibly better fitted constitutionally to resist underground damp conditions than those in the south”.


Victoria Tunnel – Claremont Road


Location: Exhibition Park, Claremont Rd

Following the closure of Spital Tongues Colliery in 1860, the Victoria was unused and forgotten until its conversion to an air raid shelter in 1939.

It cost £37,000 to adapt, seven new entrances were excavated, the floor was concreted and the walls white washed; concrete blast walls and electric lighting were installed; bunk beds and wooden benches for 9,000 people were set up. Despite this the tunnel was a dark, damp and uncomfortable place. Many people were afraid to use it. Those that did, remember sitting with families and neighbours, exchanging gossip and singing songs while waiting nervously for the ‘All Clear’ from above.

At the same time as the Victoria Tunnel was being built, Ann Gillies, the mother of Butch Cassidy, was born and lived for years in Brandling Village, before emigrating to start a life in New York. Brandling Village is on the far side of Exhibition Park. Cassidy was to became leader of the feared Hole In The Wall gang and carried out countless robberies with the Wild Bunch across Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nevada. ”