Film ID:
NEFA 21842

TODAY AT SIX: SIMPSON’S HOTEL

1974

Visitor Tabs

Description

Charlotte Allen reports on the Simpson’s Hotel, Wallsend, which had provided accommodation for single homeless men since it was built in 1912. This was a Tyne Tees TV news magazine item for Today at Six broadcast on 18 April 1974.

The report opens with general views of Simpson’s Hotel on Buddle Street, Wallsend, on the top of a hill that leads down to Swan Hunter’s shipyard. In voice-over, the reporter Charlotte Allen gives a little history about the hotel. It was built in 1912 since when it has provided accommodation for homeless, single men. The previous night 218 men slept in the building for a nominal rent of £1.32.

Two men drink tea and smoke together at a table in the hotel’s dining room.

Interior shots follow of one of the hotel’s single bedrooms. Charlotte Allen says that most of the men living here are long-term residents and they pay only £3.77 per week. For that, they get a single bedroom and use of the communal areas such as the dining room, where most of the residents do choose to eat their meals.

A man carries his plate of food from the counter in the hotel dining room to a table as another man queues up. He tucks into stew and dumplings at a table. Some other residents sit together chatting at another table, one of the men checking out the classified ads in a newspaper. Another man in a flat cap chews on his meal, seated alone. Charlotte Allen reports that today’s meal was provided for 26 pence and that the men are there as much for the company of other men. Old age pensioners make up a large percentage of the population at Simpson’s, and the rest are out of work. If they were not there, the chances are that they would be walking the streets and living rough. Many of the men have this history of unemployment and homelessness.

General view of the entrance to Simpson’s Hotel, men coming and going. Inside, a single room consists of a sink, old fireplace, a newspaper in the old cast iron grate, locker, bentwood chair and bed, a single lightbulb dangling from the ceiling, socks hanging on a makeshift washing line. Allen describes how the homeless men carry everything they own in a paper bag. Their room provides a base and some security, and their whole way of life changes.

Back in the dining room, a man lights a cigarette, his flat cap next to a cup of tea on the dining table. A group of men continue to chat at another table. Allen explains that some of the men have been staying at Simpson’s for as long as 20 years. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere else for them. In the past 10 years, the council has managed to find accommodation for only two of the homeless residents. One of these (a Mr Duffy) was offered a bachelor flat in Newcastle but turned it down. He said that Simpson’s was his home now.

Tracking shot past a long hallway of bedroom doors. Allen concludes her report by saying that Mr Duffy will be one of the men who will be very grateful to learn that rumours that Simpson’s Hotel was to close are false. The 298 residents at the hotel can sleep easy knowing that they, at least, have a roof over their heads.