Newcastle upon Tyne in old picture postcards

Newcastle upon Tyne in old picture postcards

:   John Airey
:   Tyne & Wear
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4581-7
:   144
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Newcastle upon Tyne in old picture postcards'

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During the 900 years and more of its existence, Newcastle upon Tyne has undergone many changes and today the vishor is presented with a fine regional capital full of historical and architectural interest that is being integrated with new development to meet the needs of a modem city. Sweeping changes took place in the mid-nineteenth century under Richard Grainger and John Dobson, assisted by John Clayton, when the commercial centre was transferred from the area around the Quayside to the newly designed buildings in Grainger Street, Blackett Street and Grey Street. Much of the old Quayside district was destroyed in the Great Fire of October 1854 and, although the area was reconstructed, the Town centre moved away from the river. Developments today compare with these nineteenth century changes; the new Eldon Square shopping complex being one ofthe largest in Europe, as was Grainger's covered market in its time, and the Metro transport system mirroring radical changes in communications.

The financial wealth of Newcastle was built upon the coal trade, shipbuilding and the railways and the steady industrial growth from the mid-nineteenth century to the First World War led to an influx ofworkers from the surrounding rural areas and immigrant workers from Ireland, helping to increase the population nearly threefold. To accommodate this rising number of residents, new suburbs grew up to swallow the outlying villages and created the Tyneside conurbation which spread principally along the river banks as far as Scotswood in the west and Walker in the east. Expansion northwards was limited to a certain extent by the Town Moor, an open tract of land of over nine hundred acres which is owned by the Council but the grazing rights belong to the Freemen of the City who jealously

guard the privilege. From the 1720s, Newcastle Races were held on the Town Moor but in 1882 they commenced at Gosforth Park and the annual Temperanee Festival was staged as a counter-attraction on the Town Moor. The Festival later became known as the 'Hoppings', the largest travelling fair in the country, and a major event in the showrnan's calendar.

From late Victorian times, the increased amount ofleisure time available enabled people to enjoy more sport and entertainment, as weIl as more intellectual activity. Newcastle had several benefactors, including Lord Armstrong, and they were responsible for establishing a wide range of parks, museums, art galleries and music and variety halls for the recreational use of the citizens. This period of development continued until the First World War and beyond, when the many changes associated with the war took place, especially the increased importance of women in society and the awareness of a political conscienee amongst the working classes. The years from 1880 to 1930 are those which are covered within the pages ofthis book. From the 1880s there was an increased interest in photography as a recreational pursuit made much easier by the introduetion of the dry plate process by Sir Joseph Wilson Swan. The Newcastle upon Tyne and Northern Counties Photographic Association was established on 25th January 1881 and its members included James Bacon, William Pinkney and J.P. Gibson, all excellent Northern photographers . Many of the members of the Association showed photographs at the 1887 Jubilee Exhibition on the Town Moor and there was great interest shown at the fifteenth annual meeting of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom that was held in Newcastle in 1900.

Most of the early pioneers specialised in portrait and composition photography but there was a growing interest in social and historical Iocal views amongst members like Matthew Auty and J.P. Gibson. However, the introduction of the picture postcard led to a demise in the view publishing business and the period from 1901 to 1918 became the Golden Age of the picture postcard, It was during this period that one of the first news photographs, the unveiling of the South Africa War Memorial, taken by Thompson and Lee of 17 Eldon Square, was reproduced in the NewcastIe Weekly Chronicle on 27th June 1908.

Several of the early photographers became involved in the production of picture postcards and it is through this medium that much of the recent past of Newcastle upon Tyne has been recorded.

Postcards of Newcastle and its environs were produced by many different publishers including well-known national firms such as Raphael Tuck, J. Valentine, Boots and W.H. Smith, while the local firms included Andrew Reid, R. Johnston of Gateshead, Bealls, Ruddock and many more. The cards that they published range from poorly registered colour views to superb photographic studies and 1 have tried to include the better cards in this selection. There have been several books of photographs and postcards of Newcastle published in recent years and whenever possible I have avoided duplicating views that have already been reproduced to give the reader a new insight into Newcastle as it was. One or two of the illustrations are from photographs, but I have mainly selected postcards from my own collection which has been built up over a period of fifteen years. Cards have been chosen that will reproduce well in book form as many of the interesting photographic post-

cards have deteriorated over the years and much of the detail has faded.

The illustrations are grouped geographically or historically when ever possible but I have tried to avoid using similar street views on consecutive pages to add variety to the layout. There are some suburban and river views included where these can add to the story, especially where the industries are concerned, so the selection is not strictly confined within the boundaries of the City of Newcastle. Anyone who wishes to read more about the history of Newcastle should consult 'Newcastle upon Tyne, its growth and achievement' by S. Middlebrook, or 'The History of Newcastle upon Tyne, from the earliest records to its formation as a City' by R.J. Charleton. A series of booklets produced by Newcastle City Libraries is available in their 'Gone But Not Forgotten' series, based on photographs from the collection of about 48,000 illustrations in the Local Studies Library, There are excellent collections of primary souree material relating to Newcastle's development in the Central Library, the Tyne and Wear Archives Department at Blandford Street and the Library of the Literary and Philosophical Society in Westgate Road.


I would like to thank Jimmy Donaid, one of the Newcastle City Guides, for his assistance with the captions, and my colleagues in the Local Studies Unit at Newcastle Central Library for their help and advice.


1. A posed view of women and children outside an old shop at the lower end of Pilgrim Street from a postcard by Raphael Tuck and Sons in their 'Photographic Pictures' Series 898. The original photograph was taken in the 1890s by Lyddell Sawyer, who had his studio in Singleton House, Northumberland Street in 1889 and premises at 80 Northumberland Street in 1892. At the Jubilee Exhibition of 1887, Sawyer displayed a series of instantaneous views of Newcastle which he had produced in 1863 during the meeting ofthe British Association in Newcastle. The steps on which the women are sitting can still be seen today, although the buildings themselves have long since disappeared.

2. One of the earliest photographs of Newcastle, produced from a 'Calotype' negative on waxed paper, is of the Quayside, near the Customs House, befare the Great Fire of 1854. One souree states that the photograph was originally taken by John Parry as early as 1848, but the postcard publisher describes it as a scene taken a 'Fortnight before the Great Fire'. This 1902 postcard is one of a series produced by Hood and Son of Middlesbrough which all depiet very early views of Newcastle and the surrounding area photographed originally on paper negatives. The horse and cart are standing outside the shop belonging to Menzies Hall, a draper, which was one of the buildings later destroyed in the fire.

3. A companion to the previous illustration, this postcard shows some of the extensive damage caused by the Great Fire of 6th October 1854. The fire started here when buming debris was hurled across the Tyne following a massive explosion in a chemica! warehouse in Gateshead. Many of the densely populated old buildings between the Quay and Butcher Bank were destroyed, killing 53 people and making 800 families homeless. The steep, narrow lanes running up to Butcher Bank were called 'chares', and six were destroyed in the fire, namely Dark Chare, B1ew Anker Chare, Pepper Corn Chare, Palester Chare, Colvin's Chare, and Hornsby's Chare.

4. Two famous old publie houses that were demoiished in 1882-83 appear in this photograph of the Bigg Market taken in 1880 by an unknown photographer. Pearson and Company, bootmaker and leather merchant, oecupies the building on the extreme left, next to his premises is the Golden Lion Inn and then comes the Unicorn Inn, The Golden Lion advertises 'Good Beds and Stabling' as this was one of the inns used by the carriers who eongregated in the Bigg Market several times a week to sell their goods from the outlying villages. The term 'Bigg' originates from a type of barley that was at one time sold here. The oid mounting-bioek outside the Golden Lion was removed when the inn was demolished and today has been preserved beside the Castle Keep. Riehard Bell, at the extreme right, was a eorn and flour dealer, and the barber pole of Nicholson, a hairdresser, projects above his doorway on the left ofthe Golden Lion.

5. Published in 1907 as one of a series of cards depicting 'Bits of Old Newcastle', this postcard shows Castle Stairs, one of the flights of stairs that rise steeply from the Quayside to the higher ground. The buildings on the left were still occupied by the c1ogmakers and shoemakers who had occupied these smal! shops since the late nineteenth century and continued to do so until the 1930s. Above the c1ogmakers' tradesigns is a large poster pasted to the wall advertising Robin Starch. The steepness of the stairs is an indication of the original superb defensive position of the Norman castIe on the summit of Castle Hill.


6. Although described Old CastIe, this is in fact the Keep built in the twelfth century from 1172 to 1177 by Maurice the Engineer, who later designed Dover CastIe. The battlements and flag tower are not original but were added in the nineteenth century. The men in the foreground are changing the horses on a horsedrawn bus which carried passengers across the High Level Bridge for one halfpenny . The smal! kiosk in front of the Keep is selling Voses Med-O-Creme Toffee and Maynards Savoy Chocolate and both of these firms had several confectionery shops in the City. The postcard was published by Boots the Chemist in their Pelham Series about 1912.

7. The interior of the Great Hall of the Castie Keep from a posteard of the 1920s. The Great Hall is on the seeond floor of the Keep but the remains of wooden joists from another floor above it eau be clearly seen. The Keep was saved from destruetion in 1848 when the Neweastle Society of Antiquaries aequired the lease from the Corporation and began restoration. The mantlepiece, dated 1599, and the earved overmantie eame from the oid 'Beehive Inn' on the SandhilI. Amongst the antiquarian items on display when the photograph was taken are Chinese guns in a raek by the stairs, various weapons and pieces of armour on the wall, and a tapestry taken from an old house at Wallsend.

8. This postcard is one of a fine series of views of Newcastle produced under the trademark of E.A. Schwerdtfeger and printed in Berlin through the agency of Kar! Geisen from December 1909 to 1914. The entrance to the Central Railway Station is to the left of the Keep and it can be clearly seen how the Victorians built the railway line through the heart of the castle, separating the Keep and the Black Gate. In the background is the magnificent lantern spire of Saint Nicholas Cathedral and the Post Office in Saint Nicholas Street. W.F. McCullagh, whose premises are incorporated in the railway arch, is listed in local directories as a provision importer.

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