Film ID: NEFA 11652 Video of NEFA_11652 We Are Responsible by Law WE ARE RESPONSIBLE BY LAW 1969 Visitor TabsDescription A Tyne Tees Television documentary, broadcast in 1969, about the importance of local government in Newcastle and the workings of the city council at the new landmark Civic Centre. Includes footage of the opening of Newcastle Civic Centre in 1968 by King Olav V of Norway. The film looks at the 'big business' of local government and focuses on a number of departments within the council including housing, education, public health and social services. Title: TTTV Presents The film opens with an exterior view of Newcastle Civic Centre. In a council office, a woman registers the death of her husband and there are cutaways of the funeral procession. General views of a funerary procession, carrying a coffin to the hearse: a number of tower blocks can be seen in the background. The hearse drives through a graveyard and there are shots of the service at the grave site. Back in the council registry, the woman confirms the details with the Registrar and signs the register. The funeral procession begins to leave the cemetery. The sequence ends with the woman sitting alone at a table drinking a cup of tea. At night burning braziers light the exterior of Newcastle Civic Centre. Title: We Are Responsible by Law There are cutaways of the Lord Mayor of Newcastle being helped into civic regalia. He then walks through the Civic Centre behind a number of other other men dressed in civic ceremonial garments. Title: Police An Hillman Imp police car speeds along a terraced street. An older man sits in a chair while another man shaves him. In another room an older woman has her hair combed. The police car speeds to the top of the terraced street. Title: Dustbins Beside a tower block a large refuse bin is emptied into the rear of a dustbin lorry. The lorry drives through the crossroads of a suburban street. Panorama of the Newcastle skyline with three tower blocks in the near-distance. The film cuts to a meeting room inside the Civic Centre where a female councilor gives a speech relating to the opening of the building. Title: The Council Meeting The Lord Mayor listens to the councilor along with a number of other officials. A seated audience behind the woman looks bored, while a man tries to raise his hand. This man then gives a speech about the cost of the opening ceremony, the speech intercut with views outside the Civic Centre where a number of military marching bands are preparing for formal opening on the Civic Centre on the 14 November 1968. A platoon of soldiers stands to attention and is inspected by His Majesty King Olav V of Norway, watched by a large crowd nearby. The Lord Mayor of Newcastle and King Olav walk onto a platform and speak to the crowd. The film cuts to a woman holding an arm full of folders walking along a corridor. Shots of the woman are intercut with King Olav continuing to give a speech at the opening of the Civic Centre. Two older women walk along the same corridor seen previously. King Olav has problems cutting a ribbon to officially open the Civic Centre. The film cuts to an exterior view of the Civic Centre where two men and a woman stand beside the sculpture of the Swans. At the housing offices, a series of local residents discuss their housing issues. Title: John Dixon, Director of Housing Interview with Mr Dixon who talks about the two man aspects of housing management: the physical bricks and mortar and the human and social needs. As he continues to speak the film cuts to a view of a derelict terraced street. The camera pans left to right to show firstly a piece of empty waste land and, in the near distance, a number of recently completed modern houses. Title: The Committee A hand stirs a cup of tea. Members of the Housing Committee sit at a meeting table looking over the prepared reports. Title: Kenneth Galley, City Planning Officer Interview with Mr Galley who says that the first task is to prepare plans for the council to control, promote and develop. A large model of the proposed development of Newcastle stands in a large room. Four men stand at the far end looking over the model. In a small office two men work to prepare a new section of the model. As one of the model makers plants a miniature tree beside a building, the film cuts to the actual building; the now demolished Newcastle City Library along New Bridge Street West. There are a series of views of the city intercut with shots of the same location on the model, including the Tyne Bridge and Swan House. There are high angle shots from a building looking down onto The Church of St Thomas The Martyr and traffic travelling along Barras Bridge. The film cuts to the model of the same area and a pedestrian walkway crossing Barras Bridge. A man sits at a table listening to another person speaking. Title: Frank Harris, Principal City Officer The man, Mr Harris, continues to participate in the meeting as the narrator says that he is the first City Manager in Europe employed to co-ordinate, supervise and speed up the process of local government. There is a general view of scaffolding on a building site. A sign for 'City Planning Department: Enquiries' hangs in a corridor. A number of people make planning enquiries to a woman standing behind a desk. At a window a pair of hands count out money from a purse. In an office, an official speaks with a woman about a tenant transfer. The discussion gets very heated. Looking down towards a derelict terraced street, possibly the Scotswood area of Newcastle, the Dunstan B Power Station can be seen in the distance. The film cuts to small hall where a woman holding her young son speaks with three people sitting behind a table about issues she is having with damp in her rented property. The three behind the table talk about how they can help the woman. The sequence ends with the small child ringing a bell on the table. The second part of the program opens with shots of a female bus conductress at work. There are cutaways of a couple heading in a car to their wedding ceremony performed at the Civic Centre. Inside the Civic Centre, there are shots of the civil wedding of Trevor Goodfellow and Sheila Elizabeth Guthrie. He takes a ring from a blue cushion and places it on her ring finger. Holding each others right hand, they recite their wedding vows. At a table she signs the wedding register. Walking out of their terraced home, family and friends throw confetti on the happy couple as they make their way to their car. The film cuts to a classroom where a teacher is telling the story of Goldilocks to a nursery group of pre-school age children with special needs. The camera pans across the children's faces as they follow the story. Title: Dr Richard Pearson, City Medical Officer of Health, Principal School Medical Officer Interview with Dr Pearson who says that there are two main objectives to his role. The first is to assist in the formulation and carrying out of policies by the city council to provide a suitable environment for people to live in and gain maximum health and happiness. The second objective is to provide comprehensive services for those in need of care and counseling on medical and health matters. The film cuts to interiors of a public house where two public health officers approach the bar and order three double whiskeys. After purchasing the drinks one of the men identifies themselves as Sampling Officers from Newcastle City Council, here to collect samples for the purpose of analysis by the Public Analyst. The three classes of whiskey are poured into three glass jars which are sealed with wax. General view of the fountain and Swans sculpture outside the Civic Centre. A sign for 'Social Services' hangs in a Civic Centre corridor. A number of elderly people discuss their social needs. One man is looking to get a new disabled badge; a woman wants to be re-housed for medical reasons. The film cuts to two older women walking slowly along a terraced street on a steep hill. In an old peoples residential home a couple sit together hand-in-hand. There are cutaways of the other residents inside the care home as an old woman is led across a building site towards the home. An educational montage follows. In a classroom, a young boy plays a trumpet. A teacher wearing a set of headphones sits in a booth at a control desk whilst students practice in the school language laboratory. Children in a drama class rehearse a play. The sequence ends back with the boy playing a trumpet. General view of a modern school with children playing in the yard. [No identification.] Title: Gordon Squires, Director of Education Interview with Mr Squires who says the function of his department is firstly to maintain and provide what is needed for the local schools and colleges, secondly to give a service to the people of Newcastle and thirdly to give service to the Education Committee. The film cuts to a meeting of the Education Committee in session. Title: The Committee Around the table men and women of the Education Committee look over papers and discuss the content. Title: Cat on Education A woman on the committee speaks with the other representatives. Another woman sips a cup of tea listening while others around her smoke. General views of a large group of special needs children, some disabled in wheelchairs, walking though a park with their teachers. In a classroom a group of young children listen intently to a piece of music and play along with a number of percussion instruments. In a room on their own a woman helps to teach a young girl how to speak. The film cuts to a man sitting at a desk speaking on a telephone. A young family are taken into care. Two women help to undress the children and change the nappy on the baby. The children look confused and distressed. General views of a district nurse visiting an old lady in her home to offer medical care. A doctor examines a pregnant woman at a hospital check-up. There are more general views of children in a special needs class. A man holds a distressed young boy in his arms trying to sooth him. A young boy pedals a pianola. Various shots record children in a classroom, some of whom are face painting while another lays on the floor with a rabbit on his chest. One boy is rocked by a teacher whilst speaking about his family. The film cuts to a view of the Tyne Bridge, High Level Bridge and Swing Bridge in Newcastle. In a hospital a woman gives birth supervised by a doctor and two nurses. The child is born and is held by the mother. Traveling shot of a street from an elevator moving up.The closing sequence and credits montage features cutaways of Mrs Barber registering the birth of her child at the registrar's department in the Civic Centre. End Credit: Narrator Wilfrid Thomas End Credit: Cameraman Norman Jackson End Credit: Sound Bob Rhodes End Credit: Film Editor Judy Seymour End Credit: Produced and Directed by John Irvin Context North East civic modernism in Newcastle An imposing modernist Civic Centre takes pride of place in Newcastle upon Tyne life. This fascinating TV documentary looks at the ‘big business’ of local government in Newcastle upon Tyne run from the modernist Civic Centre, one of the high profile architectural projects powered through by infamous council leader T Dan Smith. It’s a vivid illustration of how the council interacts with the lives of real people in the city, from birth to death, perhaps at its most controversial when looking at planning, housing and demolition in the 1960s. Extraordinary examples of artists’ work and high quality craftsmanship are integrated into the architecture of George Kenyon’s Nordic-influenced Civic Centre, topped by a carillon in the tower incorporating 25 bells. Surfacing from an age of 1950s austerity, the total construction cost £4,855,000. The Newcastle public (and rate payers) not surprisingly referred to their new city hall as “wonderland”. Whilst T Dan Smith and fellow councillors were genuine in aspiring to a cultural Geordie revival that reflected a post-industrial future for the city, many decried the costly schemes, suggesting the bells play “(Why Not Take) All of Me” as a signature tune rather than Blaydon Races, the Geordie anthem.