Film ID:
NEFA 9633

OUSEBURN

1986

Visitor Tabs

Description

A Tyne Tees Television documentary looking at the history and development of the River Ouseburn, a tributary of the River Tyne, which runs through Newcastle from Callerton in the north of the city into the Tyne. The film shows the various strategies to improve the environment of the Ouseburn, as it goes through Jesmond and the City of Newcastle, to create better conditions for visitors and wildlife.

The film opens on a small boat with ‘Team’ written on the bow coming in to moor alongside other small boats beside an area of the Ouseburn with industrial buildings, some partially derelict. A close up of the flowing water of the river as the voiceover describes its location.

A brief shot of a factory type building and its fire escape, cuts to reflections in the water. A travelling shot from a boat follows as the camera heads towards the other small boats moored at both sides of the river. Panning shots of dereliction and redundant warehouses.

An overhead shot of a map describes the route of the Ouseburn through Newcastle, and its source, Callerton Pond just west of the city centre.

A man walks through reed beds at Callerton Pond where farmers have allowed reeds to overgrow. The man explains off camera that cattle used to graze at the edge of the water, but since the change to arable farming, the reeds have overgrown the pond. Close ups shots of reeds and flowers follow. The man, on camera explains that they want to clear the pond to get species of plant and animal that used to inhabit the pond to return. At this point in the course of the Ouseburn, the water is clean and there is a variety of plants, fish and insects. General views follow of the Ouseburn and the surrounding vegetation as the voice over describes the other wildlife that can be found.

The film cuts to a more urban view with flats and houses, development generally is creeping ever closer to the Ouseburn and affecting the quality of its water. The man seen earlier at Callerton Pond wades into the river outside a culvert which is a storm drain overflow from Kingston Park, Newcastle. A metal screen which protects the entrance to the culvert, is becoming clogged with rubbish. The man explains that this overflow has more things in it than just rainfall for which it was designed. A close up of the screen shows the range of materials being washed down, including sewage which is killing off local wildlife. General views show the polluted river, and this pollution remains for the rest of its 13-mile course.

The map seen earlier, shows how the Ouseburn meanders between the streets and houses. This route is used by much of the wildlife which find habitat in Jesmond Dene.

A high angle shot shows a man walking along the footpath next to the river as it flows through the dene. Cut to another high angle shot as two people cross a bridge. General views of water flowing over a waterfall, followed by shots of mature trees, which Lord Armstrong planted. The trees shade the ground beneath which creates bare patches of ground which is eroding. The film cuts to workmen using chainsaws to thin out the overgrown woodland. Others, possibly volunteers gather up pieces of sawn tree trunk. Another workman is up a ladder thinning out branches with a chainsaw. More people work in other parts of the dene gathering rubbish.

The film cuts to a group of teenagers climbing up what appears to be a sheer rockface. Other visitors cycle along the dene’s pathways, while others take photographs of features such as a waterfall. Some walk their dogs or jog. One of the joggers on camera explains that users of the dene are encouraged to stick to the paths, as soil erosion may occur through pressure of use especially along the banks near the river. He also speaks of new developments in the dene to make it more attractive to visitors. The film shows the area known as pets’ corner where birds and other animals live in large cages. On camera visitors share the views on the amenities in the dene. A father and his child feed some leaves to a goat in one of the cages. A woman and two children feed some Canada geese in another cage. Others give more of their impressions of the dene on camera, and a general view of the pets’ corner cages finishes the sequence.

The film cuts to workmen renovating an old building. Millfield House a former watermill, which, having been rescued from demolition, is now being turned into a new visitors’ centre. General views follow of workmen chiselling at brickwork and others working with wood.

The film cuts to the trees and landscape of the dene again. Two joggers run along the path towards the camera. In voice over and continuing on camera, a visitor hopes the new attraction won’t make the area become overcrowded. General views show children playing and others walking along the bankside. Another commentator on camera is concerned about the encroachment of housing on the dene. In particular houses on the Castle Farm estate where houses have been built on a field which runs right to the edge of the dene. General views show some of the estate houses.

Two women and children walk along a footpath; one woman pushes a small child buggy. Another woman and her small son cross a low bridge, and walk away from the camera into one of the old buildings which can be found around the dene. The commentator explains that some of the historic buildings may have received more attention, with regard to maintenance than the river itself. A panning shot right to left shows the water going over a waterfall. Rubbish in the form of a bottle or can is caught in some leaves at the top of a weir.

Another commutator on camera speaks of his concern regarding the pollutants now appearing in the river water. Shots of water going over the weir, pollutants appearing in the water as it flows away. Two young people sit at a picnic table and a mother walks with two children along the nearby path. The camera pans right showing a couple with their children admiring the Ouseburn Bridge, which runs over the dene near the Coast Road. A shot from below the bridge follows. A sign next to the road reads ‘Jesmond Dene, Pets Corner, and Fisherman’s Lodge Restaurant.

Shots of heavy traffic along the Coast Road passing under the Ouseburn bridge is followed by an animated map showing how the road cuts across the Ouseburn valley cutting the dene from Jesmond Vale. A new by-pass is planned to alleviate traffic problems. But an artist impression of the road plus an interview with a resident suggest this will not achieve this outcome. A high angle panning shot shows houses nearby, and the bridge going across the dene. A local councillor says that many people are in favour of the by-pass, as it may ease traffic flow going into Newcastle from the east.

Jesmond Vale is a much more open area, shots follow of the Blue Bell pub and the Sinfonia Centre. Development in the area during the Sixties include tower blocks of flats. A high angle shot also shows allotments. One of the 150 plus allotment holders burns old bits of wood. A high angle shot shows the Ouseburn running between the allotments. The council wants to open this area up and provide greater access for the public. A man digs in his vegetable plot. On camera another allotment holder expresses his concern at the access proposals. Long shots show two other men working on their allotment and their spokesman talking to another allotment holder. More high angle shots of the vale follow, with the commentary stating that one of the more controversial plans for the area is for an electrically powered water mill. Some artists’ impressions of the mill follow. Commentary raises some concerns, on film a mother walks down a path over a bridge with her children. A panning shot reveals a picnic table in a secluded corner of the vale. On camera the objector to the mill voices his concerns. More high angle general views of the vale and the river. The river shot pans upwards to reveal a tower block in the distance. Another resident, on camera is in favour of the mill. More general views of the vale follow. A panning shot left to right in a more urban part of the vale shows a collapsed fence. The commentary reveals that parts of the vale need cleaning. General views follow of dilapidated wooden buildings and other structures. A commentator says that the river in this part of the vale needs regular cleaning, however cleaning the Ouseburn is problematic with the local authority reluctant to commit themselves to scheduled cleaning sessions. General views show rubbish and a shopping trolley in the river. At the end of the vale the river goes underground into a culvert. An old photograph from the Twenties shows work being undertaken to bury this part of the Ouseburn. The culvert at the time was covered with rubbish and rubble, with the consequence that the land is unstable and has never been built on. The camera pulls back on another opening of the culvert presumably where the river re-emerges. A low angle shot shows a rail bridge and a Metro bridge, the latter an elegant concrete flyover. A high angle panning shot shows the area below the bridges. New developments are planned for this area; a spokesman outlines his vision.

A map shows the route of the river through this part of Newcastle. A city farm extension is proposed, old warehouses will become offices, and new housing will be built on derelict land, improvement to existing buildings will be encouraged, and a visitors’ centre will be opened. An artist’s impression of the redeveloped area follows. A shot of schoolchildren entering the ‘City Farm Byker’ as the sign reads next to the entrance. A goat is milked and the children have the milking technique explained to them. The milk is collected in a stainless steel bucket as the children look on. A low angle shot shows the bridges as they straddle the valley, sheep grazing on the grassland below. Work goes on in and around an old portakabin which will become the farm’s café and visitor’s centre. An artist’s impression shows the addition of a farm shop and garden centre in another area of the farm. A general view follows of the farm buildings with the bridges in the distance. A farm worker outlines the benefits to the farm of a having a farm shop and garden centre to increase the money coming into the farm. The film cuts to a young goat being fed milk from a bottle, by schoolchildren, ducks swim on a small pond, A boy from the school strokes one of the geese. The man handling the goose, shows the children its webbed feet.

An old warehouse has been refurbished (36 Lime Street) and a number of groups and visitors use it for workshops and businesses. Two men work with wood at benches one of then prepares to attach a door on a wooden sideboard. A potter fashions clay on a wheel, then the film cuts to a long shot of him working. Some of his pots dry off on a bench in the foreground. Another exterior shot of the building is followed by members of a theatre group who use the building, rehearsing a play.

On camera a theatre member suggests extra housing would also help to revitalise the area. A grassy bank and a horse contently grazes, in the background, the Ship Inn. The landlord outside the pub comments on the houses that used to be in the area. Old photographs show a variety of buildings that used to occupy this area. Inside the pub one of the photographs hangs on the wall next to the bar.  The camera pulls back showing two men including the landlord seen earlier, serving customers. Other customers eat bar meals at tables. The commentary states that this area of the Ouseburn is busy by day, but because of the lack of housing the area is quiet at night. A panning shot left to right shows vacant derelict land. A council official thinks this area looks shabby, but there are proposals for housing development. More general views of the vacant plot follow, panning left to right. An earlier attempt to revitalise the area came in the form of factory units, a closer shot shows the rows of brown and cream units. A man working at garage scrapes paint off a car, using a gas torch. He thinks that housing and business concerns may not share the space effectively.

At low tide the Ouseburn reveals rubbish which makes the area smelly at this time of day. An artist’s impression shows a lock which would maintain river levels, and improve the appearance of the area and benefit those who keep boats. A general shot shows boats moored along the bankside. A man works on his boat and in voice over he outlines the recent history of boat use on the river. Another boat owner cuts a sheet of plywood with jig saw. The boat he is working on stands in a dry yard on chocks of wood. Another man rows a small dinghy along the river channel between the moored boats. The camera travels past other boats where men work. Another boat, out of the water, is attended by men welding and doing other repairs. A shot follows of the headquarters of the Ouseburn Water Sports Association. A long shot follows showing the quayside along the Tyne. The commentary says that the planned development of the quayside along the Tyne may affect what develops along the Ouseburn. The camera pans left to right show vacant areas of land along the Tyne. The water sports association occupies a prime site at the mouth of the Ouseburn. With the possible development of a marina on the Tyne, small boat users on the Ouseburn may not be able to afford a future increase in fees. A boat owner on camera raises his concerns, another on camera says they’ll fight for their rights.

The film cuts back to general views of the more picturesque parts of Jesmond Dene, as a couple push a pram over one of the arched bridges. A high angle shot panning left to right follows showing Jesmond Vale. A travelling shot shows the city farm area, with commentary from various contributors to the film as it plays out. A travelling shot shows moored boats at the end of the burn, in the near distance two bridges over the river. From the bank a small motor boat named ‘Daisy Hill’ goes past, and out into the River Tyne.