Film ID:
NEFA 9084

ACCESS: S.L.O.G.G. SEND THE LORRIES OUT OF GOSFORTH AND GATESHEAD

1976

Visitor Tabs

Description

The filmed element of an edition of the Tyne Tees Television programme 'Access' transmitted 9 December 1976 made by 'S.L.O.G.G. Send the Lorries Out of Gosforth & Gateshead'. The film follows the groups campaigning against traffic congestion along the main shopping streets of Gosforth and Gateshead and the problems that result, including noise and the dangers threatening housewives, children and old people.

The film opens on traffic, especially heavy lorries speeding along the A1 towards Newcastle. The commentator states that all of the lorries coming up the A1 from London will probably have by passed all the major cities until this point on their journey. Lorry drivers, we are told tend to ignore using the Tyne Tunnel when heading North, preferring instead to use the new Central Motorway East as this is by far the fastest route across Newcastle. The Tyne Tunnel now considered by many drivers to be the 'long way round'.

We are told 37,000 vehicles go along Gosforth High Street every day. Shots follow of an extremely busy High Street, with a good number of lorries making up the traffic. At this point a satirical song accompanies the film.  Shots follow of pedestrians waiting on the curbside hoping for an opportunity to cross the street. A vox pops with two ladies who think the traffic situation is 'terrible'. Another man thinks there is now a definite a 'bottle neck situation'. A third lady thinks that heavy lorries should be banned from the High Street and they should use the Tyne Tunnel. A shopkeeper says that traffic is worse since the opening of the central motorway, and is exacerbated by traffic lights. A butcher (Dewhursts) says that he often has difficulty hearing his customers because of the traffic noise just outside his shop. Residents also suffer, a lady is interviewed outside her home complaining of the repetitive noise made by a loose manhole cover in the road as traffic goes across it. She also points out cracked glass in her windows and that the whole building often shakes with the frequency of the traffic.

A S.L.O.G.G. survey found that even overnight 300 lorries pass through Gosforth - night shots follow. Outside a retirement home the commentary states that for one elderly couple their retirement is not so peaceful. The husband speaks to camera. He complains that he and his wife moved to their retirement flat ten years ago hoping for a relaxing retirement, but over the intervening years the traffic noise has increased significantly. He states that the heavy traffic is continuous 24 hours a day. Opening a window to let in fresh air is pointless as all they get is traffic fumes coming into the flat making it smell 'like a garage'. He says the lorries should go through the Tyne Tunnel.

Low Fell in Gateshead also experiences the scourge of heavy traffic. According to the commentary there were 177 accidents in 1975 between Birtley and Brunton Park. Thousands of lorries pass through Gateshead on the way the go through Gosforth, which is an almost incessant convoy. A representative from S.L.O.G.G. Gateshead says that despite lobbying the local council with a large petition, it is frustrating trying to get any  answers to their problems. A footbridge which crosses the main road is in the wrong place. Footage shows someone trying to cross the busy road and taking risks!

The film then confronts the lorry drivers. A few of them are asked why they go through Newcastle, some say it's quicker, one driver says it's too expensive to use the tunnel as he is in the area five days a week, so the toll charges would be prohibitive. Shots follow of lorries queuing to use the tunnel and Tyne Tunnel staff speaking with a lorry driver and checking over his vehicle. This needs to be done with every lorry entering the tunnel. Shots follow of traffic moving past the toll booths, and another shot shows tunnel prices for different classes of vehicle. The satirical song is introduced again. An onboard camera allows us a driver's eye view as we travel through the tunnel. Another more sinister aspect of the heavy traffic problem, accompanied by pictures of crashed tanker lorries, is the fact that tanker lorries carrying dangerous chemicals are not allowed through the Tyne Tunnel. Stills follow of tanker accidents in city streets. The commentator asks is the safety of the tunnel is more important than the safety of business and residents in urban streets. Pat Watters chief of Tyne & Wear Fire Brigade interviewed on camera and is also concerned about the numbers of lorries carrying dangerous chemicals on the region's streets. The presenter speaks to camera - he mentions a by-pass project for Gosforth first proposed 30 years earlier and highlights promises made by local politicians of every colour over the years to resolve the traffic problem. Residents and business people in Gosforth are still waiting for progress. Footage follows of heavy traffic in the High Street and of firemen putting out a chemical fire. The film ends with a shot from the opposite side of Gosforth High Street shows a stall set up by S.L.O.G.G. to gather signatures for a petition. A banner behind the stall says 'Send Lorries Out of Gosforth' The satirical song accompanies this section.