Film ID:
NEFA 21388



Visitor Tabs


This amateur documentary records the changing city of Newcastle upon Tyne and surrounding areas through urban decline and renewal in 1984, and some of the special events taking place that year, including the Hoppings, the Great North Run and the arrival of the Golden Hinde on the Tyne. Footage includes the dismantling of the Old Redheugh Bridge; the repainting of the Tyne Bridge; construction of the Metro Centre, Gateshead; development of the Nissan car manufacturing plant; closures of Woolworths, Fenwicks, Callers and J T Parrish department stores, the ABC Haymarket Cinema and Wills cigarette factory; and the new Eldon Square shopping centre. Signs of industrial action at Swan Hunters Shipyard in Wallsend are also documented. The film is a Newcastle & District Amateur Cinematographers Association (ACA) production.

Jim Mundy introduces this city news report with a panoramic view of the Newcastle skyline, taking in new and old buildings, from a Newcastle roof top vantage point, concluding with The Church of St Thomas the Martyr and the Civic Centre in the background.

Commentary: “Newcastle is changing. That’s a fact. The skyline has changed. The streets have changed. In fact, some have gone for ever. New ones have appeared, with changes for the better, while others, well, we’re not quite so sure. So let’s take a look at Newcastle in the 80s.”

Title: Newcastle and District ACA Presents –

Title: City Report [titles over painting of Blaydon Races]

Your reporter Jim Mundy

General view of the Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge, High Level Bridge and King Edward VII Bridge, carrying the East Coast Main Line, shot from the Quayside at night.

Commentary: “There is no more familiar view of Newcastle than this, at least to a Geordie, its many bridges framed beneath the Tyne Bridge itself.”

A giant Dutch floating crane looms over the old Redheugh Bridge, view from the south (Gateshead) side of the river. Men in hard hats are beginning to dismantle part of the bridge. On 13th June 1984, a dull drizzly day, people gather at the Gateshead riverside, and on the new Redheugh Bridge, to witness the operation, aided by the giant crane. A close-up records details of the bridge span being detached from the pier supports. The crane rests on a floating barge, which manoeuvres on the Tyne during the operation.  As spectators watch, sections of the bridge span are lifted away by the crane.

Commentary: “But in the early summer of 1984, one of these bridges was dismantled in the cause of progress, to be superseded by a much wider construction, capable of coping with today’s increase in traffic.” 

Commentary: “So it was that on the 13th June 1984 the old Redheugh Bridge breathed its last. As if in sympathy with a small group of mourners gathered here to witness the event, the weather is dull with a continuous light drizzle, just enough to make the whole job really miserable. Built in 1871 by a private company, the engineer later becoming the designer of the ill-fated Tay Bridge, it was reconstructed in 1901. The four original cylinders in each pier being replaced by four circular steel cylinders, sunk into the river bed under pneumatic pressure to form a solid foundation. The job of dismantling the Redheugh was a tricky one, but with the help of a large Dutch floating crane brought in especially for the job, it went without a hitch.”

Low angle shot of the Tyne Bridge. Exterior panoramic shot of the 1960s concrete Swan House building above the busy Pilgrim Street traffic roundabout (British Telecom offices at the time), the purpose-built Bank of England (designed by Basil Spence and opened in 1971) and Bank House, and on the opposite side of Pilgrim Street, the Newcastle Liberal Club (from the 1880s to 1962), formerly a mercantile town house and later the old Queen’s Head coaching inn. A shot of a Stanley Miller hoarding advertising the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust plans for repair of the building follows. General view of scaffolding and protective hoarding erected around the facade of the building.

Commentary: “So, as one monument to the past is demolished, another is restored. No, not the Tyne Bridge itself, but just a few yards north of it, opposite the towering Swan House building, the old Liberal Club, originally the Queen’s Head Inn. And prior to 1884, one of the chief coaching inns in the town. Probably built early in the 18th century, it is a large rambling house and still retains the original wooden staircase.”

Rooftop view looking down onto archaeological excavations of a Roman milecastle at the Westgate Road Arts Centre and archaeologists on site, some working.

Commentary: “Old as the Liberal Club is, it is but a babe in arms compared to the remains of a Roman milecastle found during the building work at the Westgate Road Art Centre complex. According to local archaeologists, this now gives a fixed point for Hadrian’s Wall in the city centre. The first clue of the Roman presence was the discovery of a burial urn, followed by a medieval wine flagon and some 15th century pottery. Shops, studios and a restaurant are being created, which is providing more than 30 new jobs in the area. Some of the crafts are joinery, ceramics and mosaics produced on site to a standard that has gained national recognition for both restoration work and designs.”

General views of Barrack Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, a hoarding for the Fenham Barracks Industrial Estate, a car park and building work in progress on a new trading estate, one of the new occupants to be the BBC.

Commentary: “More conversion work but this time on the outskirts of the city. The West Road location for the old Fenham Barracks currently being transformed into a small trading estate. One of the occupants will be the North East region of the BBC. This custom built complex will accommodate local radio and local TV under one roof. Apart from the advantages of administration, the Corporation will have a good reason to welcome the move as the television side will gain more studio space, and the local radio service will at last be broadcast in stereo. “

Next, there are shots of the massive construction site and work in progress for the new Metro Centre, Gateshead.

Commentary: “Not actually in Newcastle, but also certain to affect Newcastle shopping habits, is the massive £70 million Metro Centre, with leisure facilities, and 5,000 capacity car park. It is expected to open late 1986.”

The camera pans from a sign reading “Keep crossing clear” to the Tyne and Wear Metro railway line, a distinctive yellow and white electric train moving past. Cars wait as the train passes the crossing at Kings Park. Close-up of the crossing warning lights flashing. Shot of two Tyne and Wear Transport signs, one sign announcing the contract for the construction of the new Kingston Park Station.

Commentary: “Also to open at the same time is the Kingston Park Metro station. Rather controversial in as far as some planners feel it should have been included right from the start of the system, appearing now with a network well established and running to strict timetables. It could cause problems. The drivers’ unions have agreed to include the halt, but not for passengers, on an experimental basis, in order to detect any problems.”

Shot of a security fence surrounding a green field development site by McAlpine for a Nissan car manufacturing plant at the top of the A19, built on the former Usworth Aerodrome. Various shots of the work in progress with a modern factory building seen in the background, and tractors levelling acres of soil on the vast site. 

Commentary: “Looking rather like a World War Two newsreel is the new Nissan site at the top of the A19, seen here in its early development shortly after taking over the old Sunderland airport.  Against great competition from other parts of the country, this major Japanese manufacturing company were eventually persuaded to open their largest UK manufacturing unit right here in the north east. The job prospects that come with that decision are welcome indeed in an area of the country having one of the largest unemployment figures. The location of the site was instrumental in the choice, situated as it is between Newcastle and Sunderland, and with ready access to major road networks, and mainline rail connections. Output from the complex is scheduled to start in July 1986 with a new Datsun Sunni. The prosperity that a complex like this can bring to the area can well justify its current nickname: ‘Land of the Rising Sunderland’.”

A general view follows of the Civic Centre, Newcastle, and a shot of the River God Tyne Sculpture by artist David Wynne, decorating an exterior wall next to the entrance. Close-up of a Tyne and Wear County Council sign attached to a lamp post, tilt down to dog poo next to the post.

Commentary: “The changing face of the city of Newcastle is dramatic yet continuous, from the building of the new Civic Centre, through major developments such as the Metro system, and the Eldon Square shopping precinct. Who can blame them for reminding us of their achievements?”

Traffic flows down the B1307 past the new bus depot in the Eldon Garden and Eldon Square shopping centre, with a shot of the brutal outer wall of the bus station. People use new style public telephone kiosks down the pedestrianised Northumberland Street. Shoppers pass Ratners and Finlays, with new telephone kiosks in front of the shops.

Commentary: “Some of the original areas of the city have disappeared in the re-development, and this is mourned by many. Regrettably, we must move with the times, hopefully into a better environment. One of the less spectacular changes has been the new style telephone boxes, not only accepting hard cash, but also a credit card facility.”

Back at the Quayside during daytime, with a view down the Tyne, the Tuxedo Princess is moored beneath the Tyne Bridge on the south side of the river, a former car ferry converted into a floating nightclub, owned by businessman Michael Quadrini, which first arrived on the Tyne on 2 March 1983.

Commentary: “Also accepting credit cards is the Tuxedo Princess, a converted North Sea ferry owned by Michael Quadrini, and moored on the south side of the river. It offers bars and dancing into the small hours. Gateshead Council recently served a large rates bill, challenged by Mr Quadrini on the grounds that the complex does not occupy land. Rumour has it that the ship will be leaving soon for London.”

This sequence records some of the well-known department stores in Newcastle upon Tyne facing closure in the 1980s.  General view of The Northern Goldsmiths jewellers with its famous golden clock on the corner of Pilgrim Street and Blackett Street, Newcastle. Traffic moves up Northumberland Street, one of the main shopping streets, past Woolworths and Fenwicks stores. Various shots follow of the big art deco Woolworth department store and shoppers on the street. Close-up of a poster in a Woolworth’s shop window that reads: “Woolworth regret that this store will close on 26 January 1985”. Exterior shot of the modern façade of Callers, a large furniture store on Northumberland Street. A selection of closing-down posters are stuck in their shop windows, the final day of opening being Saturday 16th June. Shoppers pass by outside the store.  Close-up of the Callers-Pegasus Travel Service shop sign at their premises on Saville Row. General view of Callers shop front on Northumberland Street, busy with shoppers.

Commentary: “Someone else, probably driven out by rates demands, is the Northumberland Street branch of Woolworth, one of the many traditional sites in the city. This must surely be one of them. The store occupied the site well before the war and was an established landmark for shoppers throughout the region. There is another branch of Woolworth in Clayton Street, which offers the same large selection of goods. But the familiar site of this particular branch will be a sad miss. There is a saying that as one door closes, another slams shut. So it is no surprise that Callers have also called it a day, a very fine department store, which will also be sadly missed on the street. The travel part of the business will continue in smaller premises round the corner on Saville Row. It’s always very sad to see fixtures and fittings being sold to the highest bidder, but an all too common sight nowadays as businesses start to feel the pinch. And the bad news is not all over yet. The largest department store in Byker, J T Parrish, a shop that for many years literally minted its own money as part of a credit system for customers is also going.”

General view of the large five storied J T Parrish department store (also known as 'Parrishes’) on Shields Road, Byker. Close-ups of architectural detail above a top window and a store window with closing down sale posters. Inside the store, customers browse the clothes displays inside the store.

The art deco Imperial Tobacco W.D. & H.O. Wills cigarette factory building sits on the far side of the A1058 Coast Road, Newcastle, and has also closed.

Commentary: “But closures aren’t solely confined to the retail trade. The prestigious Will’s cigarette factory on the Coast Road has closed also with a loss of 600 jobs. The building is due for demolition and the site is to be sold.”

Industrial action takes place at Swan Hunters. The camera zooms out from a protest sign on top of a crane that reads “You Won’t Beat the Geordies Dennis” to reveal Swan Hunters Shipyard on the Tyne at Wallsend and the famous gigantic cranes. A Stairlift 722 vehicle parked at the shipyard entrance also carries a homemade sign that reads “Aides Scare Foreman Committee! Bally + Joe “Don’t Worry”, and another workers’ protest sign hangs above the entrance.   Other signs read “This is our shipyard. We have been here longer than Shadboat” (?) and “If this is a taste of our new boss God help us”.

Commentary: “In line with current government’s privatisation policies Swan Hunter’s shipbuilders became one of the many areas to be placed under threat. The feeling of the work force was made quite clear by the demonstration of revolt against any such move to put the yard on the open market. All the books had never been over full in the shipbuilding and repair business but just recently many yards have had to cut back or close completely, sending more and more workers to the dole queues. Let us hope that this trend is very soon reversed.”

People lounge in the sunshine at the base of the statue and column of the Winged Victory South Africa 1899-1902 war memorial in Haymarket. Across the road stands the 1930s ABC Haymarket Cinema (a Dixon Scott project), advertising “Children of the Corn” (released in 1984). Close-up of the ticket office, advertising the film “The Magic Shop”, “The Kamasutra Rides Again” and “Children of the Corn” and interior shot of posters in the lobby. Outside, women are buying flowers at a stall near the memorial and Metro entrance.

Commentary: “The sight of cinemas closing some years ago was quite commonplace. Not so much nowadays perhaps because there aren’t so many left to close. But one recent sad exception is the Haymarket Cinema. Running since before the war, it has eventually had to admit defeat and call it a day. Strangely, it is probably the only cinema left to convert to multi-screens, whilst most of the others made the change years ago in order to survive. Maybe there’s a lesson there somewhere.”

Exterior shot of the Pavilion Cinema, and view down Westgate Road. Exterior shot of the New Tyne Theatre and Opera House (once owned by Oswald Stoll and called the Stoll Picture Theatre). Various shots follow of the theatre front with posters for “My Fair Lady” and “Annie”, part of the building in scaffolding.

Commentary: “At the foot of Westgate Hill, just down from the old Pavilion stands a theatre opened in 1867, and called the New Tyne Theatre and Opera House. In 1919 it was bought by Oswald Stoll, given his name and turned into a cinema, which ran successfully for many years. Eventually it closed and stood empty for some time, until a group of theatre lovers took it over and formed a Trust to restore it. A gala performance was given by world famous opera star, Placido Domingo, and not long after that, the theatre was declared a Grade I listed building. Then, tragedy struck. A fire on Christmas Day 1985 burnt out the whole of the backstage area, only the safety curtain saving the auditorium. Sadly, two weeks later, gale force winds brought down the gable end and smashed the remaining Victoria stage sets. Chairman of the Trust Jack Dixon says: ‘We will rebuild.’”

Various shots of the Tyne Bridge in the process of being repainted, with nets and scaffolding erected. Close-up of an AA sign on the bridge for the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, an outdoor event for children.  

Commentary: “Another rather daunting task by any standards is the repainting of the Tyne Bridge, expected to take anything up to 12 months, a good percentage of the time being used in preparation for the job. Scaffolding must be erected from which the painters can work. Safety nets are hung. And, of course, when the job is done, it has to come down again. And if you’re wondering why there are no teddy bears around today, well, here’s your answer.”

The next sequence is of a busy Newcastle Town Moor Hoppings in late June, with fairground rides such as the Meteorite, the Scrambler (also known as the Twist), Wilmot’s traditional galloper ride called the “Royal Televised Golden Electric Carousel”, a Big Wheel (or Ferris wheel), and show booths. There are various shots of the crowds and individuals at the travelling fair, including children on a bouncy castle. The sequence ends with a shot of punters suspended in cars on the scary Super Loop amusement ride, followed by a still of a 1984 newspaper article about a teenage girl’s accident on the ride. The headlines read: “Superloop Girl’s Smile of Hope” and “Riddle of the fun ride of horror”.

Commentary: “Alright, we couldn’t find the picnic, so let’s settle for a quick look at the Hoppings. Newcastle Town Moor covers approximately 1200 acres, and has had many uses over the years. Coal was mined here in the 13th century, and it was a favourite spot for executions in front of a crowd for 20,000. That’s more than Newcastle united can attract for their own execution. Horse racing started on the moor in 1721, a grandstand being erected 70 years later. In 1802 the races were transferred to Gosforth, and a Temperance festival was held to replace them. Out of this grew the famous Hoppings, still the largest temperance fair in the country. Over recent years however there has been growing concern over some of the rides, mainly on the basis of safety. A particularly nasty accident occurred in 1984. Fortunately, not fatal.”

General view of Newcastle Quayside looking towards the Baltic Four Mills, built for Joseph Rank Ltd. on the south bank of the River Tyne. A police boat precedes the Golden Hinde, a diesel driven replica of the Golden Hind, (Francis Drake’s original English galleon), established as an educational museum, as it sails up the River Tyne, one of the stops on the ship’s nationwide tour. Closer shots follow of the galleon as it sails close to the Quayside past the Baltic Flour Mills and Royal Marine Reserves at Anzio House on the Gateshead side of the river. A photographer dressed in a bright red nylon ski jacket, and a Tyne Tees Television news crew are on the Quayside filming the arrival of the ship as it comes in to moor, Newcastle’s Lady Mayoress on board.

Commentary: “Newcastle has greeted many strange visitors in her lifetime, but one of the strangest must surely be a diesel driven version of the Golden Hind, visiting the city as part of a nationwide tour. If Drake had been favoured with this design of ship, his round the world voyage would have broken all records. But I doubt whether Queen Victoria would have been amused at the fuel then. Well that’s patriotism for you. But unfortunately we haven’t the time to accept the invitation to go aboard as we’re off to witness even more patriotism, this time for a lot nearer home.”

Next, runners hop over a fence to Newcastle’s Central Motorway near Spital Tongues to join the many other starters for the annual half marathon event open to amateurs and professionals, The Great North Run between Newcastle and South Shields, June 30th 1985. A long line of Newcastle Corporation double decker buses line one side of the A167. Thousands of participants are beginning to get ready for the beginning of the race. A group from a St John’s ambulance are limbering up in red shorts. Other athletes do stretches on the grass verge beside the road. A man in a fun cockerel hat lounges beside a fence before the start of the race. Women and children buy ice creams at Yippy Mr. Whippy. Runners and spectators smile and mug for the camera. One of the official timekeepers hangs around near the official car. Two runners do stretching exercises using a tree. Thousands of spectators are lining the route. A banner that reads “Howway the Lads (and Lasses!)” is displayed on the North Terrace. Wheelchair athletes are waved along the motorway stretch. Two policemen stand beside their motorbikes, whilst crowds of spectators lounge on the banks of the motorway, waiting for the start of the race. A Rington’s Tea float is also parked beside the motorway. Thousands of spectators watch the route from a motorway bridge, two open-topped buses parked nearby. The two police motorcyclists stand ready on the motorway as all the athletes line up at the Starter line in the background. The race starts, thousands of runners jog down the Central Motorway towards Newcastle, some waving to spectators as they pass under a road bridge. A runner ties his shoelaces on the grass verge before continuing on the run.

Commentary: “The Great North Run happens in June and involves about 14,000 runners. With the present application figures at 20,000, it’s easy to see just how popular this event is. Runners and spectators alike enter into the spirit of it all, some doing anything to get into the picture, while others are doing everything to stay out of it. When somebody somewhere mentions god’s chosen people, he must have had a Geordie in mind.”

Shot of Grey’s Monument in central Newcastle, people lounging around in the sunshine, a roundabout busy with Corporation buses, looking towards the art deco Co-op department store on Newgate Street. A train passes over the High Level Bridge across the Tyne. Shot of the Swing Bridge, the High Level Bridge behind it. Cars drive across the Tyne Bridge.

Credit: Produced by Doug Collender and Walter Clark (titles over painting of the Blaydon Races).

Title: The End

[Note: A merger with other Tyne shipyards in 1968 was followed by nationalisation in 1977 and a management buyout on privatisation in 1986. The price of the deal was for Swan Hunter to be designated as warship builders only, following a European directive that wished to reduce merchant shipbuilding capacity.]