Film ID:
NEFA 10894



Visitor Tabs


Filmed Tyne Tees Television inserts to a programme on the fashionable scene that centres on the Handyside Arcade on Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, at the height of the boutique boom of the 1960s.

[Mute footage]

General views of passengers getting off a double decker bus in central Newcastle. A tracking shot from a bus follows of the male reporter in a suit walking along a busy shopping street in the city.

[Mute footage]

Young men inside a boutique  have fun trying on beads, hats and flowery accessories, and wearing them in a hippy style. Two young women walk down Percy Street handing out promotions for an event at the Handyside Arcade. They hand one to the Tyne Tees TV reporter who engages them in conversation (mute). One of the women wears a placard proclaiming “Get a passport, get free gift.” One of the women points out the entrance to the Handyside Arcade.  Close-up of the placard, and the woman’s mini skirt and legs. Portrait shot of the young woman. Close-up of the leaflet about the event. The two women walk off, the camera focusing on the fashionable mini dresses as they walk away. The Tyne Tees TV reporter glances at the leaflet and heads off down the street, past a record shop.

[Part sound on film]

General view of the entrance to Handyside Arcade, a sign above the entrance reads: ‘Arcadia’. The reporter strolls into the empty Edwardian arcade with its cast iron gas lamps and looks around. Close-up of various shop names: Fig Leaf, The Witches Coffee Bar, Target, Paraphernalia, Scene, The Birdcage, Pot, The Crafts Gallery, Fred Wallace Printer. A man is painting the outside of the boutique Blaise. Window posters repeat a photo of a man sporting a ‘Pot is Fun’ slogan.

Various shots follow inside a clothing workshop, women busy making clothes at sewing machines.

[Part sound on film]

The reporter window shops at the trendy boutique, Target. He spots the sign for a café, ‘Granny’s Coffee Parlour’, and walks into Scene, where Indian bells and other hippy paraphernalia are on display, along with Union Jack aprons. He pushes through the Indian bell display and is stopped by a female assistant and charged one shilling for admission to the coffee bar, which covers the cost of a raffle ticket to win either a set of Indian bells, 5 records or a dozen joss sticks. General views of a painted chest of drawers for sale at the reduced price of £52.00, which he thinks is rather expensive.

[Sound on film]

The reporter walks down into a cellar coffee bar and sits at a table. A trendy young man is playing acoustic guitar. A hot drinks machine stands in a corner and the reporter tries to get his coin to work in the machine, gives it a thump, but loses his money.

[Part sound on film]

General views follow of the Fig Leaf shop window decorated with posters of Chairman Mao. A trendy assistant hangs around at a shop doorway, and another looks out from another boutique entrance. Inside one shop, a fashionable woman in a bouffant hair style, (very Dusty Springfield), sits and crochets clothes, smiling. The assistant moves back inside the boutique, Pot. Overhead shot as the reporter heads to the shop. Inside the darkened shop, two women with cropped haircuts (like early Twiggy) are trying on clothes. The reporter browses arty posters and drawings. He interviews the shopkeeper in a boutique that sells fashion, pop posters and drawings, bells and beads. They discuss the meaning of 'swinging', which is an in word of the time. There are various cutaways of fashionable people browsing in the shop. The interview continues with the male shopkeeper, the reporter saying that the displays all seem very confused and muddled. The shopkeeper replies: “Well, so is life […] life tends to be confusing, doesn’t it?” The reporter says he has been wearing the same suit for a number of years so he muses, could he be part of the "Swinging Arcadia Scene"? The man replies that the suit fits in with the reporter’s environment and that, if he worked in the Arcade, he would probably wear different clothes like the people in the boutiques.

[Sound on film]

The reporter leaves Pot and walks to another shop. Inside, he interviews the owner about trade, which the man admits could be better. It is a swap shop, which the owner intends to supplement with an art gallery upstairs and a soup kitchen in the back. He says that they are planning to have an Independence Day at the arcade, declaring a free state, and plan to invite the Duke of Edinburgh to officially open it. He mentions T Dan Smith as an alternative if the royal declines. He says the swinging Handyside Arcade scene is far better than the London scene (Carnaby Street)

The reporter walks into the Three Bulls Head pub on Percy Street, joining Alan Price at the bar, a local musician and later member of The Animals (born in Fatfield, Washington, County Durham). The barmaid pulls the reporter a pint. He chats to Price about the arcade. They talk about the success of the arcade and the atmosphere there. Alan Price says groups used to play there but the roof fell in from the vibration. He thinks it’s a good place for the young people. It’s not just a pale imitation of London's Carnaby Street, which is now aimed at tourists. Price thinks that the Handyside Arcade businesses are closer to their local customers.

They go on to talk about the old days of the Downbeat Club and the early days of ‘The Animals’ pop group. Alan Price says there was only one club then and the Downbeat Club was very small and not very well known to begin with. Price talks about their growing audience at the club and that they weren’t the biggest group in Newcastle at the time. This was the Gamblers who used to play at the Majestic, which has just closed. He says the old days were more exciting because it was the beginning, but that all the kids on Tyneside now know about the arcade. He thinks that the 'swinging' idea is rather overestimated, but that Newcastle is better than many other cities as far as the music and fashion scene goes. The reporter offers him another beer.

Close-up of the sign for another boutique, Blaise. The reporter walks into the shop, which is owned by two fashionable young women. They say that, because they are young, they know what their customers want to buy and share the same outlook and ideas. All the boutique owners are around the same age. [Part sound on film] General views inside a boutique where a girl tries on a mini-dress in front of a mirror. The interview with the owners of Blaise continues. They say they design and make their own clothes, and they don’t have much spare time but don’t mind.

The reporter now goes into the Birdcage boutique. A customer exits a changing cubicle in a mini dress and says she’ll take it. The reporter interviews the proprietor, who is a much older man. He says he used to be in the tailoring business but he felt he had to move with the times and become 'with it'. He says it is impossible to keep up with all the individual style but his goods are very up-to-date. An older woman examines some fashionable dresses on a rail. The interview with the owner of The Birdcage continues.

General view of the reporter on the upper level of the arcade. Close-up of the shop front sign for Object. The reporter enters the shop, which sells arts and crafts. Interview with the young woman owner. Most of the goods are handmade and come from the craftsmen and artists on a sale or return basis. She gets a commission for goods sold. General views of the art objects on display including sculpture and pottery.

Interview with a businessman type (?) about the development of the arcade, the letting of property to the hippy and trendy crowd and its associated problems. He refers to ‘real’ hippies as ‘helpless, harmless and useless’ but no trouble at all. They talk about the "love-in" that was held in the arcade, a name which the owner feels was misleading. He thinks it should have been named a ‘shop-in’. His intention was to attract customers to shop, not sight-seers. He talks about the mixed reactions from older people. The businessman thinks they forget that they were young once. He recalls one woman, probably nearer 90 than 80 years old, who had known the arcade in her childhood, was disgusted and thought something had died in the arcade. He says it is usually quiet through the week but very busy on Saturdays when it is definitely a "swinging place".

General views follow of groups of young people in the arcade, some school-age teenagers in high spirits. The reporter stops at the "Passport Office" to the arcade.  Various general views record the people wandering around a busy arcade, with different styles of dress, including mods, football supporters and more hippy fashions.

[mute footage]

One of the arcade’s gas lamps comes on at the end of the day and the Tyne Tees TV reporter watches it, then turns and walks out of the arcade. Out on Percy Street, he is filmed following a young woman in a mini dress up Percy Street.