Film ID: NEFA 19705 Video of NEFA 19705 Newcastle Upon Tyne Regional Capital NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE: REGIONAL CAPITAL 1968 Visitor TabsDescription A promotional tour of Newcastle shot by Turners Film Productions, taking a look at the city’s architecture and its civic art and facilities. Title (blue background with an image of the city’s coat of arms):- NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE REGIONAL CAPITAL The film opens with an elevated view of the Tyne Bridge, looking down towards the Gateshead side of the River Tyne. A second shot shows the Tyne Bridge from the riverbank. A river barge passes under the Tyne Bridge, the Baltic flour mill building visible in the background. The view pans towards the Newcastle side of the river where a naval ship is moored. A view of the Newcastle quayside, a tall yellow ships’ cargo unloading crane (inactive) and a small market are in the foreground, and the famous Tyne bridges visible in the background: the Tyne Bridge, the Swing Bridge, and the High Level Bridge. View of the Guildhall on Quayside street, from the Swing Bridge. A view down Groat Market street follows, with both the spire of St Nicholas Cathedral and the turrets of the Keep visible at the end of the road. Next, a view of St Nicholas Cathedral spire, blue sky in the background. Then a closer view of the castle keep. View from a link road of the Inner City Bypass of Swan House on the Pilgrim Street roundabout. Traffic passes. A closer view of the entrance to Swan House. View along Grey street, with the Earl Grey Monument visible at the end. Next, three views of the colonnade in front of the Theatre Royal. There are also shots of Central Arcade, St Johns, Hancock Museum, and University (new buildings). A yellow corporation bus (number 21), turns a corner on an inner city street; this is followed by another view of Grey’s Monument. A woman wearing a red mini-dress feeds some pigeons on a grassy lawn beside an inner city church. Views of the city’s modern architecture, including the Civic Centre. Interior shots of the Civic Centre: a corridor, a stairway, a conference suite; then a view of the Banqueting Hall. Views of David Wynn’s “Swans in Flight” sculpture in the grounds of the Civic Centre; then the River God Tyne sculpture. The film ends with another look at the city’s coat of arms. Context This stock footage of architecture around Newcastle upon Tyne was filmed by Turners, which started life as a chemist shop, selling cameras from 1931 onwards down Pink Lane, Newcastle. The business grew into one of the North East’s leading photographic and cine retail firms, with 4 stores in Newcastle as well as branches in Whitley Bay, South Shields and Darlington. A new colour film processing laboratory was opened in the 1970s on Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate at North Shields to meet the increasing demand of holiday snaps, and by 1976 Turners was developing more than five million pictures a year. Following World War Two, Turners excelled at industrial and corporate films, working for all the major regional industries over the years. One of the earliest films, a beautiful industrial film and workers’ portrait, records The Building and Launch of the Mocamedes. Earlier still, in 1939, they recorded the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to John Barran and Sons clothing manufacturers in Leeds. Much of this film was photographed in the Sandhill area, the oldest part of the Newcastle. Sandhill is a street near the Newcastle riverfront that has been used as a quayside since Roman times. The street was named Sandhill as it was originally just a hill of sand when the tide was out. There was a thriving market at Sandhill and by the 16th century many wealthy merchants owned property on the street. In the late 18th century the suburbs became more fashionable for the wealthy classes and the area saw a slow decline until the regeneration of what is now known as the Quayside in modern times. There are many historic buildings on Sandhill, including the Guildhall and Bessie Surtees' House, the former making an appearance in the film. Guildhall is an important civic building completed by John Dobson in 1823-5. An early reference to guildhall in Newcastle near this site dates back to 1400, though the main structure was built during the mid-17th century by York mason Robert Trollope. (1) Further East along the banks of the Tyne stands the Baltic Flour mill owned by Rank Hovis. Completed in 1950, architects Gelder and Kitchen based the mill on a late-1930s-inspired design. The mill closed in 1981, meaning it was still operational during filming, but the building was given a new lease of life when it reopened as the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) in 2002. Designer Dominic Williams of Ellis Williams Architects won an architectural design competition in the mid-1990s for the new art centre which currently attracts close to 520,000 visitors per year. The Baltic, along with other buildings featured in the film such as Swan House and the Civic Centre, can be considered modernist in design. The modernist movement was the most important style and philosophy of architecture and design of the 20th century. Also known as International Modernism or International Style, in Britain, the Modern Movement refers to the designs of the 1930s to the 1960s, influenced by European designers Walter Gropius (the Bauhaus) and Le Corbusier. The philosophy of modernist architecture was ‘form follows function,’ meaning the shape of a building should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose. Therefore modernist buildings such as Swan House and the Civic Centre are characterised by functional design, utilising simple geometric forms, modern materials such as reinforced concrete and steel frames, the use of minimal ornamentation, a tendency towards a neutral or white palette and an open plan and spacious interior (2). The newly completed Civic Centre features in the film, Newcastle’s modernist pièce de résistance. Designed by the city architect, George Kenyon, the Civic Centre was completed in 1967 to officially replace the Victorian Town Hall in St Nicholas Square which was demolished in 1973. The Civic Centre was built on the site of a former Eye Hospital near Haymarket, with construction beginning in 1960. Kenyon designed various official buildings across the city and is famed for having worked on the Empire State Building in New York City. In the grounds of the Civic Centre are two bronze sculptures by David Wynne OBE (1926-2014). Swans in Flight is based on the Scandinavian poem 'The Swans from the North' by Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pederson and River God Tyne is a reimagining of the sculpture of the same deity on the front of Somerset House in London, which portrays the mythical river God in human form, complete with a fountain built within his outstretched hand, intended to course a constant stream of water. The regeneration of the Newcastle and surrounding areas took place during T. Dan Smith’s controversial leadership of Newcastle City Council, with Wilfred Burns as Chief Planning Officer. Smith had a post-war modernist vision of the city; his grand plan for the future to ensure Newcastle became the ‘Brasilia of the North.’ Buildings such as Swan House, the Civic Centre and the Pearl epitomise this modernist utopian vision for Newcastle. Ryder and Yates were an architectural practice chosen to help realise this modernist vision across the North East, with both partners having already worked together on the development of the new town Peterlee, under the leadership of modernist architect Berthold Lubetkin (3). Other films in the archive show the work of Ryder and Yates, notably Norgas House and the British Gas Engineering Research Station (ERS) at Killingworth, Northumberland, in the film Rank Award: Fashion Show (1967). By some wonderful coincidence, the founder of the Rank Organisation who commissioned the Fashion Show film, J. Arthur Rank, was the brother of the ‘Rank’ in the Rank Hovis merger who commissioned the Baltic flour mill! References: (1) Guildhall, Newcastle - https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/guildhall/ (2) RIBA https://www.architecture.com/explore-architecture/modernism (3) Carroll, Rutter. Ryder and Yates: Twentieth Century Architects. London: RIBA, 2009.