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1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 7.0 Vision of the future City of palaces Lets build a city Slum clearance Brasilia of the north Modern city wall Road to nowhere

Fig 1: Concept section of a multi-level Newcastle.

Vision of the future

This study will look at the long term effect of the autocratic planning of the 1960s when Newcastle became nationally renowned for innovation in housing policy and city centre renewal, but also for accusations of what was termed evangelistic bureaucracy, which created an autocratic and non-pragmatic planning atmosphere. (Coaffee, 2004, p. 450). In modern day Newcastle, areas of the city centre subjected to the regeneration and slum clearance of the 1960s are often associated with the destruction of heritage, and many elements of this vision of the future are associated with desolation and a sense of emptiness. This is particularly evident in the little used system of pedestrian decks and plazas created above the roads as part of the visionary city plan of the future, hailed by the Leader of Newcastle City Council, T. Dan Smith, as the Brasilia of the North (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006, p. 281-3). This epic modernist vision would transform the ancient city of Newcastle and its outlying areas, destroying much of its historic fabric and displacing deeply rooted communities in the process. This paper will explore the background of comprehensive master planning in Newcastle by looking into the history of this ancient city and the social changes of the twentieth century which gave appeal to the modernist ethos of the city leaders in the 1960s. Following on from this, the paper will look into the impact of modernism on Newcastles urban fabric and the creation of what would ultimately become urban non-places as a result of a vision which would come to an abrupt end. Finally this study will conclude by exploring the response of people living with the legacy of this heroic and unrealised vision for the future, in the urban non-places of Newcastle.

Fig 2: Escher-esque staircase winding beneath the Tyne Bridge.

City of palaces
You walk into what has long been termed the coal hole of the north and find yourself at once in a city of palaces; a fairyland of newness, brightness and modern elegance. And who has wrought this change? It is Mr Grainger. (Howitt, 1842, p. 310).

Fig 3: Eldon Square, 1900

The first recorded human settlement where Newcastle now stands is believed to date back to 200 300 B.C. when the Celts landed on the banks of the river Tyne following their invasion of Britain during this period. It is unlikely that the site held anything of historical significance until the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who came to Britain to quell the rebellious Brigantes on the Northern Frontiers of the Empire. It is likely that the first crossing over the river was built around 120 A.D. with a nearby camp named Pons lius after Hadrian Emperor Publius lius Hadrianus (Hearnshaw, 1924). Apart from Hadrians Wall, the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain at this time, the only notable architecture on the site of Newcastle from this time is thought to be a fort to protect the river crossing. It was not until the late 1970s that the actual site of the fort was determined as most likely to have been on the bluff now occupied by the existing Norman castle (highlighted in fig 4), with a commanding view over the bridge (Bidwell, 2007). Two significant Roman altars dedicated to the Gods Neptune and Oceanus, were dredged from the Tyne during the construction of the modern Swing Bridge (Simpson, 2009). These would probably have been located on the Sacellum of the Roman bridge (see fig 5).

Fig 4: Modern river crossing, with the 19th century swing bridge on the site of the Roman Tyne Bridge.

Fig 5: Artists interpretation of Pons Aelius, showing the river crossing with its Roman altars, and the probable location of the Roman Fort.

The Angles who came to the region following the departure of Rome, allowed the settlement at Pons lii to fall to ruin as like most primitive folk, dreaded and shunned walled towns and roofed houses, fearing evil spirits (Hearnshaw, 1924, p. 24). The Roman Bridge was almost certainly destroyed, but it is possible that its stone foundations remained and were later re-used in the building of the Norman Tyne Bridge in the 11th Century. Although Pons lius disappeared, there is evidence of a historically important Northumbrian Royal Villa in Pandon in the 7th Century (see fig 6), which later attracted monks who fortified themselves in the remains of the nearby Roman Fort and created a settlement which became known as Monkchester (Mackenzie, 1827). Newcastle gained its modern name and its first river crossing over the Tyne since the Roman occupation of Britain in 1080, when William the Conquerors son, Robert Curthose built a Castle on the remains of the Roman fort. This was probably just a wooden stockade, as Roger of Hovedon, a renowned chronicler of the period, referred to it in the diminutive term municiuncula suggesting it was small and insignificant. However, as the strategic value of the river crossing became apparent, a fortress was constructed in 1092 (see fig 7), and over the centuries Newcastle developed into a prosperous medieval town (Hearnshaw, 1924).

Fig 6: North East Corner of Medieval Newcastle, showing Pandon on the right of the image, 1715.

Fig 7: Print of the Castle, 1781.

It is believed that the vast coalfields of Tyneside and a monopoly on coal trade in the region made Newcastle, vied only with Bristol, the most important town of the late medieval age outside of London. This put the town at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and transformed the medieval market town into an industrial age commercial centre (Ayris, 1997). As the coal trade began to boom in the 19th Century with improved mining techniques, engineering and manufacturing in Newcastle flourished. But as the city rapidly expanded, the Corporation, who controlled Newcastle, gave little regard to public health or cleanliness of the streets or river and the city largely became a pestilent fever bed. Starting on the banks of the river, it later climbed to the top of the very steep banks, and still later on, spread in all directions as coal was exploited and the great engineering concerns made their guns or ships or great pieces of machinery. As the City spread, the riverside life declined and the river changed from a fine salmon river to an open sewer. (Burns, 1967, p. 4). Newcastle as a medieval town had developed somewhat elegantly, said to be compared to London for its richness and the loftiness of its buildings (Ayris, 1997), but it had developed in a piecemeal way which made the town, like most medieval cities, extremely fragile and susceptible to regular plagues, fires and floods, with the wooden Tyne Bridge being swept away or burnt down (see fig 9) on numerous occasions between its first construction in the 11th century until it was finally removed for good after a flood in 1771 and a stone bridge was built in 1781 (Horsley, 1971).

Fig 8: The sprawl of Newcastle along the banks of the Tyne, 1823.

Fig 9: The medieval Tyne Bridge destroyed in a flood, 1772.

By the mid 18th Century, overcrowding had led to infilling in many of Newcastles medieval streets within the limits of the city walls (see figs 10-12), where over-construction had caused spaces between buildings to be reduced to narrow alleys and chares. Most of the chares, according to historian Mackenzie, could be easily spanned by the extended arms of a middle sized man and some with a single arm. In Dark Chare the houses nearly touched each other and the thoroughfare was no longer passable (Ayris, 1995, p. 29). With unhealthy and claustrophobic spaces which were too narrow for vehicles, the areas historically occupied by the wealthy and the aristocracy were abandoned as they fled to new desirable developments away from the increasing squalor of the town centre around the quay. Of late Years these Houses have been forsaken, and their wealthier Inhabitants have chosen the higher Parts of the Town. (Bourne, 1736, p. 126).

Fig 10: A narrow medieval street on the Quayside, 1894.

Fig 11: Map of post medieval Newcastle with substantial open land within the city walls, date unknown.

Fig 12: Map of early industrial Newcastle, with infilling to the city limits, 1788

With the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion and the apparent elimination of threat of invasion from Scotland, the opportunities for safe growth beyond Newcastles defensive city walls started a process that would lead to the transformation of the city. The dismantling of the walls, particularly between Pilgrim Street and Newgate to improve communication links supporting the towns growing industry in 1811, led to a vast amount of land becoming available for development (Ayris, 1997). This would allow for the first visionary comprehensive master plan of Newcastle, sweeping away the shambling medieval townscape to create a modern, aesthetically stunning centre, fit for the new industrial era commercial city and meeting the leisure and diversion needs of the ever increasing middle classes (see fig 13). This apparently heroic vision would later inspire the 1960s master plan of T. Dan Smith and Wilfred Burns, who would echo Richard Grainger in the 1830s (Smith, 1970).
Fig 13: The transforming Townscape of Newcastle, 1848.

It was in the 1830s that the outspoken Grainger, already a prominent developer in the town, having completed his great works at Leazes Terrace, Eldon Square and the Royal Arcade, would acquire the anachronistic Anderson Place, a sprawling medieval manor and grounds taking up valuable land inside the city limits (see fig 14), and present his redevelopment plan to the town Corporation. With a massive workforce he then began his transformation of Newcastle creating what is today the historic, cultural heart of the city, now known as Grainger Town, with his legacy carried on by John Dobson to extend his vision to the quayside area and the west of the city (Ayris, 1997).

Fig 14: Anderson Place set amidst acres of private grounds, with the overcrowded medieval city encroaching on the left, and the town walls on the right, 1702.

Newcastle had become the envy of its time There is nothing like it in the history of any age... Newcastle is now one of the most remarkable towns of the British Empire. (Howitt, 1842, p. 324). However, like the medieval town that preceded it, Graingers magnificent city would fade, as his fine neoclassical buildings became stained with pollution developing a blackened, less prosperous appearance (Ayris, 1997, p. 55). The decline of industry on the Tyne and the fundamental social changes following the world wars would leave many parts of the historic city filthy, polluted and congested (see figs 15-16).

Fig 15: The fine Georgian buildings on Hood Street, with coal blackened facades, 1912.

Fig 16: Thick smog over the polluted and congested River Tyne, 1914.

The sharpest decline of the historic fabric of the city would be brought about with the construction of the modern Tyne Bridge in 1928. This would allow a major road traffic to be taken over the river at high level, straight into the centre causing a sharp drop in traffic and trade on the Quayside, leaving the area deprived and slum like, with buildings shored up and seemingly ready for demolition. (Phillips, 1994, p. 9).

Fig 17: Buildings propped up and awaiting demolition on The Side, 1952.

Lets build a city

The low standard of house building was not because of the impossibility of producing the right house, but because the right kind of house was not then considered necessary (Smith, 1970, p. 46).

Fig 18: Model showing Newcastle City Councils proposal for a comprehensive centreal area redevelopment, 1967.

By 1961 Newcastle was largely dependent on the heavy industries along the Tyne River, with a quarter of all workers in Tyneside employed in engineering, mining or shipbuilding, double the proportion of anywhere in Britain (Robinson, 1988). The influence of these industries had caused the city to boom through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with sprawling densely packed housing submerging the historic villages around medieval Newcastle to the east and the west of the city centre. Industrial developments followed the urban sprawl along the riverside, but this made Newcastle a target for air raids during World War II. Although the city centre was largely spared, much of the industrial infrastructure along the Tyne river was destroyed during World War II (see fig 19) and the entire Tyneside region suffered drastically in the post war slump. With a programme of mine closures by the National Coal Board, and continuing industrial decline the economic base would shift drastically to the service sector, accounting for well over half of all workers by 1971 (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006). This would permanently end Newcastles reliance on heavy industry and with the massive social transformation of the population; the historic city centre began to buckle under the strain, unable to cope with the massive increase in congestion and demand for services (Burns, 1967). It was during this social transformation in the early 1960s, that the controversial politician T. Dan Smith, became Leader of Newcastle City Council where he would lead a regeneration that would also transform the physical fabric of Newcastles historic urban centre and many of its suburbs. At the height of his power he was commonly known as Mr Newcastle and often referred to by his political rivals as The Mouth of the Tyne (The Times 1993).

Fig 19: Bomb damaged marine works on the River Tyne, 1940.

Fig 20: T. Dan Smith (Mr Newcastle), 1966.

He believed that architecturally, the city was going through a 20th Century dark ages with the poor quality of post war architecture of Newcastle (see fig 21) as a prostitution of a proffession by bad political policies (Smith, 1970, pp. 37-38). According to Smith, the councils in charge of Newcastle until the late 1950s were stifling the proffessionalism of the architects responsible for shaping the changing city, encouraging poor quality and permitting destruction of important elements of the historic city, remarking that up until he took power in the council, the modern buildings in Newcastle had not been of an illustrious character (Smith, 1970). His public career in politics had started in the 1950s with his election to the City Council with the Labour Party where he became renowned as a campaigner for housing reform. As a controversial and outspoken figure he was reknowned for creating more enemies than friends, even amongst his own party. My enemies were legion. They did not trust me, nor did they understand me. I talked a different language. My arguments were about inner cabinets in local government, efficiency as a complement to caring, and planning as the handmaiden of a civilized life. Their talk was of drains and majorities and rates. These were important things, but not priorities in a city which was being strangled by traffic, humiliated by lack of opportunity and murdered by mediocrity. (Smith, 1970, p. 48). When Labour took power in Newcastle in 1958, Smith had a vision for a cohesive re-development of the city but few allies for his policies. Nevertheless with his small group of supporters he succesfully blocked what he believed to be one of the inept plans of his so called progressive predecessors from the Conservative Party, to resolve the mountainous congestion problems of Newcastle by demolishing the historic Royal Arcade and Holy Jesus Hospital to build a mouse of a roundabout (Smith, 1970, p. 48). This had been part of a rethinking by the City Council of a radical, and potentialy destructive, unexecuted masterplan from 1945 by the City Engineer, Percy Parr, which invisaged ring roads bypassing the city centre and a new city hub away from its historic location near the old quayside (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006).

Fig 21: Poor quality post war housing in Fawdon, 1957.

Following this apparent victory for conservation, Smith then went on to achieve the controversial clearance of the Scotswood Slums (see fig 28), and in 1960 with his rise to leadership of the Council, he would finally have the backing to move forward with his visionary plan to transform Newcastle from a dirty outworn industrial city to a modern city with an atmosphere of a capital (Burns, 1967). To achieve his vision, T. Dan Smith believed he needed the finest national and international architects which he went to great lengths to commission, including a personal visit to Scandinavia to encourage renowned architect Arne Jacobsen to come to Newcastle. He also brought in Wilfred Burns, the man behind the re-development of post war Coventry, as head of the citys Planning Department. With the intention of creating a new urban centre that would look to the future by anticipating increasing standards of living and an increasing requirement for leisure in urban centres, Smith and Burns developed their master plan for Newcastle (see figs 18, 22-23) which would apparently relieve the problems strangling the development of Newcastle (Burns, 1993).

Fig 22: Proposal for a pedestrianised commercial hub around Greys Monument, 1967.

Fig 23: Proposal for the Haymarket, showing a planned Western Central Motoway running along the right of the image.

In an era when Tyneside was in the midst of a changing economic base, this seemingly heroic and comprehensive master plan, popular in its time, echoed that of Richard Grainger in the 19th century. Smith and Burns proposed epic plans to sweep away the outworn buildings of Newcastle to provide what modern man expects in a modern environment... more and better shops, make more efficient transportation arrangements, plan for substantially more and continuously developing higher educational and research facilities, provide better libraries and art galleries, better homes for workers and management, more social and cultural life (Burns, 1967, p. 2). Although the leaders of Newcastle apparently intended their new modern city to fit into the citys historic framework, they were only too willing to sacrifice much of its essentially classical heritage in their search for a new image based on international modernism (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006, p. 282), (see figs 24, 25).
Fig 24: Newcastles Old Town Hall at the bottom of the Bigg Market prior to its demolition, 1932.

Fig 25: The incongrous Cathedral Square office building occupying the site of the demolished Old Town Hall, 2011.

These sweeping changes would go on to have a profound effect on the fabric of the city, particularly with decisions, considered by many to be misguided, to demolish important elements of the historic centre, such as one of Richard Graingers most eminent early works of Eldon Square (see fig 26). Its apparently bold replacement was a somewhat faceless brown brick shopping complex which destroyed many of the citys historic vistas, and which, until recently, was almost entirely introverted (see fig 27). This had the effect of creating a fortress like impact at street level in many areas with few entrances to the centre, spaced far apart. The worthy conservative plans to create a conservation-zone and restore the historic city centre around the Dobson-Grainger area were largely overshadowed by increasingly excessive and inappropriate juxtapositions of inappropriately scaled, harsh modernist buildings, amongst the classically styled historical context of Newcastle, where over eager demolition of buildings considered outworn had taken place (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006).

Fig 26: Eldon Square, a somewhat dirty, but nevertheless much appreciated peaceful corner of the city, 1949.

Fig 27: Eldon Square, still a popular public space, but set against a harshly over scaled and faceless building with virtually no transparency, 2005.

Slum clearance
There was significant conflict between the citizen and the official as the latter attempted to impose their theories, visions and even fantasies on the area in an all-out effort to abolish the past and to manufacture the future through comprehensive planning. (Davies, 1972, p. 2-3).

Fig 28: The clearance of the Scotswood slums underway to construct the high rise Cruddas Park development, 1963.

It was not only Newcastles historic city centre which would be transformed in the wake of comprehensive master planning. The suburbs of Newcastle which had exploded in size during the industrial boom on Tyneside had fallen in to rapid decline in the early 20th Century. This most likely occurred as a result of war damage, overcrowding and a reduction in coal mining and heavy industry along the River Tyne. This subsequently led to high unemployment and significant levels of poverty, with between 50,000 and 100,000 dwellings on Tyneside considered below modern standards (English, Madigan and Norman, 1976). Although the levels of housing considered as slums were lower than in most other major conurbations of post-war Britain (Burns,1993), the high density of tightly packed housing and the use of prefabricated homes replacing those damaged by war (see fig 30), presented an acute housing problem for Newcastle City Council (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006).
Fig 29: The ward boundaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Fig 30: Prefabricated homes in Fenham, 2005.

Areas like Scotswood in the citys west end had been at the heart of industrial era Newcastle, It was said that the road was lined with so many public houses that it was impossible to count them, perhaps because many who tried followed the time honoured routine of having a drink in each (The Times, 2009). However, as industry had declined and levels of unemployment and poverty increased, the poor condition of housing had led to the area being designated as a slum. In the mid 1950s T. Dan Smith set out his controversial redevelopment plan to demolish and clear these historic streets to make way for new developments as part of his vision for a modern Newcastle (The Times, 2009). The origins of slum clearance date back to the 1840s when Nuisance Removals Acts allowed local health officers to prohibit dwellings which were injurious to health (English, Madigan and Norman, 1976), although the first laws specifically dealing with slum clearance did not emerge until the Artizans and Labourers Act 1868. This policy required property owners to demolish their own houses, at their own expense, if they were unfit for habitation and could not be suitably repaired. The government had no further responsibility to purchase the cleared land or even re-house the owner; they were simply expected to fend for themselves. It was not until the 1920s when council housing developments became widespread, that local authorities took any obligations for re-housing displaced residents (English, Madigan and Norman, 1976). The national slum clearance policy had started across the country at this time as the only rational means to relieve massive urban squalor, following World War I. The government slogan homes fit for heroes (see fig 31), announced by war time Prime Minister David Lloyd George, led to blunt and vast slum clearance programme targeting all inner-cities across the country (Power and Mumford, 2003).

Fig 31: Homes fit for Heroes, a comparatively high, but ultimately unsustainable standard of modern housing to replace derelict inner city slums, 1921.

The slum clearance schemes went on often controversially but predominantly unchallenged until the early 1970s with many housing schemes replacing the uninhabitable slums, arguably built to a standard barely any higher than the houses they replaced (Smith, 1970). It was thought by many that local authorities, utilising autocratic planning systems, often arbitrarily flattened structurally sound houses, scattering deep rooted communities in the process, often among the new rapidly built, poor quality council estates which would decline faster than the slums they had replaced (Hetherington, 2004). In areas subject to the somewhat arbitrary slum clearance and redevelopment in the 1960s and 70s, like the industrial suburbs in the west end of Newcastle, a deeply embedded antagonism was created between the local authority and the community (Davies, 1972, p. 2-3). Throughout the city in areas like Scotswood in the west end and Shieldfield on the city centres eastern periphery, another historic community marked for slum clearance due to its high density terraces, the Council demonised pre-war housing, referring to reasonable standard homes as slum like tenements to justify demolition and push forward redevelopment proposals (Drury, 2010). Historic housing was cleared to make way for comprehensive new modern high rise developments (see figs 34-35), apparently in the interests of the community but considered by many to be human experiments, with modernist tower blocks designed and created as architectural exercises rather than places to live (Gateshead Housing Company, 2010). These pragmatic planning decisions were a cause of lasting antagonism between the displaced communities and the City Council (Coaffee, 2004). Although perhaps somewhat misguided, T. Dan Smith and Wilfred Burns set out in their vision for Newcastle, to develop suburbs based on the principles of Le Corbusier; our new layout, employing the same area and housing the same number of people, would show great blocks of houses with successive set-backs, stretching along arterial avenues. No more courtyards, but flats opening on every side to air and light (Le Corbusier, 1927, p. 61), (see figs 32-33).
Fig 33: Plan of Le Corbusiers street with set backs. High rise buildings share communal green spaces between the road and the housing, 1927.

Fig 32: Le Corbusiers concept for healthier streets; wide roads lined with flourishing trees, with generous open space, 1927.

Unfortunately, whilst many city leaders in the mid 20th Century followed these principles to some extent, the reality of the new suburban developments fell drastically short of these modernist visions, with most following the barest thread of rationalism: the search for the most economic solution; a way of housing the most within the least (Newman, 1973, p. 25). The pedestrianised spaces at the feet of these developments were largely anonymous and immediately became disassociated with the very housing blocks they were supposed to serve, creating unanimated and potentially dangerous spaces leading to rapid decline of these areas (Newman, 1973). Arguably more successful was the Byker Wall development. Originally intended as a replication of the high rise housing developments elsewhere around Newcastle, the City Council started clearing the densely packed and un-modernised Victorian terraces. Having been designated as slums, they were to be removed to create space for a new motorway, but as a result of the unusually cohesive community atmosphere, the project was halted and Ralph Erskine, already a successful housing developer, was brought in to master-mind a different approach (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006).

Fig 34: High rise housing in Shieldfield, set amidst bleak and anoynmous public space, disassociated from the development it serves, 2010.

Fig 35: High density suburban masterplanning in Shieldfield with inadequate public space; destructive to its deep rooted community, 1781.

Erskine became a much admired figure in the community following his unprecedented involvement of the locals in the design and construction of his schemes, creating a striking architectural statement, whilst keeping the community together (Henderson, 2005). The powerful symbolism of the wall aparently relates to Newcastles old town walls, and Hadrians Wall which passed nearby. The wall also creates a protective acoustic barrier from the urban bypass which runs alongside, and protects the development against cold winds from the North Sea (Collymore, 1994). Although the Byker Wall has won awards for its bold and intuitive design, and was awarded grade II listing in 2007 for its architectural merit (Rose, 2007), the development is not without critics. Many residents consider the estate to be a walled ghetto, difficult to police and poorly built (Al-Yafai, 2003). This is evident in the cost of repairs to the estates heating network in excess of 4m to City Council as well as a legal battle in 1988, when the council sued the architect, contractor and engineer over repairs to the Byker Walls facade (Rose, 2007).

Fig 36: The introverted facade of the Byker Wall, 2008.

Fig 37: The contrasting colourful internal facade of the Byker Wall, 2006.

Brasilia of the North

T. Dan Smith called for a comprehensively modernised city, with new buildings that could spearhead economic renewal. His Slogan Brasilia of the North, however ludicrous it might seem today, captured both public and political imagination at the time (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006, p. 282).

Fig 38: The little used networks of pedestrian decks above Higham Place.

Fig 39: 1950s Map of Newcastle with the route of the A1 Great North Road highlighted, passing through Newcastles commercial centre.

By the 1950s, the massive social changes occurring in Newcastle had led to a huge increase in the use of motor vehicles, and subsequently a sharp increase in traffic congestion, which the city was unable to cope with (Burns, 1967). Possibly the biggest impact in this increasing congestion was on Newcastles main shopping streets around Pilgrim and Northumberland Street, through which ran the A1 along the route of the Great North Road (see figs 39-40, 51-52). By the 1960s, there was a perception emerging that Newcastle was falling behind other British cities; an echo of the feelings of Georgian Newcastle when it was commented that the city was a late comer to the English Urban Renaissance of the industrial period (Faulkner, 2011). It is possible that this mood of civic inactivity in the face of continuing economic decline and increasingly strangling congestion gave appeal to T. Dan Smiths iconic vision for a Brasilia of the North. It certainly captured the imagination of the people and was well received as being of sweeping grandeur and iconic vision (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006). Following the principles set out by architect Oscar Niemeyer used in the master plan of Brasilia, the new centralised administrative capital of 1960s Brazil, T. Dan Smith, and Wilfred Burns set out a plan to segregate the pedestrian from the motor vehicle (see fig 41). The pedestrians are lifted, by slow ramps or steps, to a new ground level on top of the vehicles. They can then cross the roads surrounding the redevelopment area by bridges, without having to change level again (Burns, 1967, p.27).

Fig 40: Congestion on Northumberland Street, 1950.

Fig 41: Diagram showing the vertical segregation between the pedestrian and road vehicles, 1781.

Although heroic in its aspirations, for many the concept of a Brasilia of the North, following ideas set out by architects such Le Corbusier and Lucio Costa, was dangerously futurist and outlandish in its context (see fig 42). However, it could be argued that the concept was appropriate for a rapidly developing Brazil with its modernising, authoritarian regimes which ruled the country intermittently through the mid 20th century. The transition from a colonial agrarian society to an urban industrial one took place at great speed, without Brazil ever having gone through the bourgeois revolution which was so important in creating the nineteenth-century infrastructure, which is still so important in defining European and North American Cities (Samuels, 2010). Whether or not the overall effect has proved to be a success is a point of continuing debate. Although Brasilias economy has flourished, exceeding all other cities of Brazil, it is also the countrys most socially segregated conurbation. This was one of the key principles which Oscar Niemeyer, set out to eliminate (The Economist, 1998). Though inaugurated to great international acclaim, for many the city represented an authoritarian and inflexible urbanism that for residents was profoundly alienating or worse (Williams, 2005).

Fig 42: Master plan for the city of Brasilia.

In Newcastle, these modernist visions were met with similar feelings of anonymity. Within their sweeping new modernist city, Burns and Smith intended that the man in the street could walk from one end of Newcastles new central re-development area to the other, without ever having to cross a vehicular road. Meanwhile, the appalling traffic, strangling the city centre, would be relieved with a bold series of dramatic new vehicular river crossings and motorways set out by the City Engineer, Derek Bradshaw (see fig 43). These would be set around and beneath the new centre, taking the heaviest traffic away from the commercial heart of the city, with segregated pedestrian zones set above the roads (see fig 1). The result of these drastic measures would have been the destruction of significant swathes of the cities historical fabric and its outlying areas, including the isolation of the suburbs from the city centre. To some extent this has already happened, although, much of Bradshaws ambition for a city centre motorway network was never realised. The legacy of this today is a series of complex and disjointed motorway junctions without connecting roads.

Fig 43: Proposed central motorway network, cutting directly across and dividing historic areas of the city, 1967.

The greater realities of this philosophy and its impact amongst the historic context of Grainger and Dobsons 19th century city were profound. To achieve this multi-levelled city, many of the ideals of conservation set out by T. Dan Smith were inevitably disregarded with many of the citys historic suburban developments swept away or in some case part demolished leaving juxtapositions between the classically ordered Georgian streets and the functional, undecorated modernist blocks (Faulkner, 2011). A particular example of this is visible in Ellison Place, where MEA House, a bold modernist building, sits amongst a late Georgian terrace (see fig 44). Whilst the building itself is considered by many to be one of Newcastles more successful modernist developments, the uncompromising form contrast starkly with the classical 19th century style, based on a principle referred to as dynamic contrast (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006), but rather creating a somewhat incongruous juxtaposition.
Fig 44: The stark modernism of MEA House contrasting against the orderly Georgian Ellison Terrace.

As part of Smith and Burns central area redevelopment, MEA house was also linked to other modernist developments across concrete walkways, which further damages the relationship with Ellison Place, where the access ramps at ground level cut across a pleasant Georgian Square (see fig 45), destroying its character (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006).

Fig 45: A long ramp, leading to a raised pedestrian deck, cutting across Ellison Place.

The bold concept of pedestrianised walkways above the roads would apparently offer quick and peaceful routes for the modern man to stroll through the city, free from petrol fumes and without the risk of being run over by motorists (Smith, 1970). In reality, they often prove to be somewhat less successful. Many of the anoynmous decks and plazas created among the new modernist developments proved redundant and often became lifeless and intimidating spaces. Within just a few decades of their construction, several of these walkways had been subsequently closed or removed entirely (see fig 46). Arguably more successful are the split levels around the modern developments at Princess Square. With the vehicular road access below, offering parking and vehicle service functions to Northumberland Street, the deck set above street level is appropriately free as a pedestrianised square (Jeffries, 2010), (see fig 47).
Fig 46: An intimidating walkway, permanently shut, above Market Street.

Fig 47: Princess Square splitting into lower and upper levels.

An additional factor in its comparable success, whether intended or otherwise, is that Princess Square, similar to some historic and Georgian squares in Newcastle such as Charlotte Square, conforms to the principles of the Turbine Plaza. This is an ancient spacial design principal observed by seminal town planning author Camillo Sitte. The Turbine Plaza is believed to enhance the spatial enclosure a public square and create a sense of importance to the buildings within by misaligning entrances to form a turbine in plan. By deliberately obstructing linear vistas out of the space, the square is given stronger spatial definition and prevented from blurring into surrounding streets (Sitte, 1889). The lack of spatial defenition is often regarded as one of the key failings of modernism. By disjointing buildings and setting them back from the street or amidst their own urban space, negative space is created. This space generally becomes anonymous to the detriment of the street. Indeed, it can be tempting, as it was for many modernist architects, to distinguish an urban building by pulling it back from the street, but urban life is predicted on proximity, walkability, and immediacy. Setting buildings back from the sidewalk makes them less accessible to the passerby, reduces the economic viability of the first floor businesses, and weakens the spatial definition of the street (Frederick, 2007, p. 91).

Fig 48: Layout of Princess Square, showing a turbine form in plan.

Fig 49: Charlotte Square, a successful Georgian public square.

Modern city wall

Not surprisingly, many saw swan house, standing defiant above the motorway, as a monument to the destruction of Newcastles heritage (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006, p. 305).

Fig 50: Swan House, T. Dan Smiths modern gateway into Newcastle.

Fig 51: 1950s Map highlighting the dense congestion caused by major traffic routes converging on Pilgrim Street.

As well as a general social and economic transformation on Tyneside, an additional factor contributing to the increasing traffic congestion problems of the mid 20th century in Newcastle was the widespread slum clearance, and the subsequent creation of new towns and new suburban council estates on the periphery of the city. In the mid 1960s around seventy thousand people a day were visiting or commuting to the city centre, and with rising standards of living and increased distances from the new suburban housing developments, more and more people were travelling in private cars. This combined with ever increasing commercial traffic, on a historic road system which had changed little since the 19th Century redevelopment of the city, would cause epic delays, showing existing infrastructure to be desperately inadequate (Burns, 1967). Particularly problematic was the entrance to the city at the Tyne Bridge. The bridge was aligned with the Great North Road, at the time the main route from London to Edinburgh. This situation was further exacerbated by major routes converging on this location from Carlisle in the west and coastal towns to the east. It would take over an hour to cross the Tyne Bridge, any time of day (Look North, 2008).

Fig 52: Pilgrim Street with the Royal Arcade on the right just before its demolition and the heavy traffic congestiion from the Tyne Bridge, 1969.

Some attempts to alleviate these problems had been proposed following World War II, but at a time of economic stringency, they were often lacking conviction and the only schemes taken seriously were considered by many to be inadequate and destructive (Smith, 1970). In any case, little was achieved until T. Dan Smith took charge of the City Council in the 1960s. Despite having earlier fought against the proposals of the previous Conservative local government his party had replaced, on grounds of conservation, he would then promote a scheme far greater in scale. Smiths proposal would involve the demolition of the Royal Arcade (see figs 52-53), a much admired local landmark, to create a roundabout and motorway link through the city centre, as part of his concept for a modern city wall.

Fig 53: The interior of the Royal Arcade after decades of decline, 1967.

This was perhaps the most ill received of all T. Dan Smiths grand visions. Destructive to the fabric of the historic centre, Smiths intended plan was to create a metaphysical city wall where Every major entrance to Newcastle was to provide the sense of coming into a modern enclosed city (Smith, 1970, p.51). By creating an inner city ring road, the desperate problems with congestion could be relieved and the boundaries of the city centre could be clearly defined by motorways, with striking modernist buildings straddling the roads as the gateways to this new city. These were however, perhaps one of the least successful elements of Smith and Burns modernist city plan, with buildings like Westgate House (see fig 54) and Swan House (see fig 50) where scale and model was incongruous in the context of surrounding historic structures (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006, p. 305).

Fig 54: Westgate House, before its demolition, creating a stark contrast with the adjacent 19th century Union Rooms, 2006

Fig 55: Structurally sound, fine historic buildings demolished in preperation for the construction of the Pilgrim Street roundabout, 1962.

The new Swan House office complex, which would occupy a roundabout on Pilgrim Street, had originally intended to house the Royal Arcade in a restored form inside the new development when completed, as an ingenious plan by the City Engineer Derek Bradshaw. The Royal Arcade was supposed to have been carefully dismantled, with each stone labelled so that the structure could be rebuilt beneath the new office complex. However, whether as a deliberate act or an unfortunate accident, the original stonework of the building was poorly stored in the open on disused land in Shieldfield. As a result of this the stone work was damaged or its careful labelling lost to such an extent that restoration would prove impossible (Jeffries, 2010). Regardless of this, the scheme was still hailed by T. Dan Smith as a victory for conservation as a poor and somewhat inaccurate facsimile of the Royal Arcade was built like a film set, using studwork and plaster, within the new complex (Faulkner, Beacock and Jones, 2006). Like the original; this pastiche recreation of Royal Arcade would also prove to be unsuccessful and with little public use it quickly fell into decline (see fig 56).

Fig 56: The interior of the Royal Arcade fascimile, abandoned after two decades of unpopularity , 1990.

These incongruous developments were considered by many to be poorly conceived and their dynamically contrasting nature was perhaps the cause of their ultimate downfall. Westgate House has since been demolished and the Swan House complex partially demolished and significantly remodelled into high end apartments and office and leisure facilities. These buildings have left a lasting impact on the fabric of Newcastle. The demolition of Westgate House, which straddled Westgate Road, has left a redundant plaza in the city centre, exposed by roads on all sides, and as a result of economic stagnation, a further scar in the streetscape as no building has yet been erected on its site (highlighted in fig 57). Around Swan House, as a result of the policies of the 1960s, a series of forbidding and little used decks, plazas and subways remain, which despite efforts to remodel remain intimidating and lifeless (see fig 58).

Fig 57: Gap in the urban fabric, created by the demolition of Westgate House.

Fig 58: Abandoned pedestrian plaza above the Pilgrim Street roundabout.

Road to Nowhere
A lot of the buildings that now tower over Newcastle were built because of bribery and corruption, which really undermines the supposedly progressive ideology that lay behind the plan (Sunderland, 2008).

Fig 59: Graceful concrete walkway leading to nowhere.

Arguably the worst failing of T. Dan Smiths heroic vision for a modernist Newcastle was its overall incompletion. With his arrest for corruption in 1975, Smiths career ended, and with it his master plan for Newcastle. The mood surrounding his staggering political collapse led to a great distaste for what he had already achieved in Newcastle. The concept of Brasilia of the North disappeared, as the City Planner Wilfred Burns, one of the key orchestrators of Smiths vision, also departed from the City Council (Jeffries, 2010). Many areas of Newcastle have now become a juxtaposition, often incongruous, of historic and modern architecture. It could be argued that the city has retained much of its historic character whilst adapting to changing times to create what is to some extent a harmonious coalescence. Despite this there are amongst the cities more epic modernist developments, a sense of abandonment and emptiness creating an urban non-place.
Fig 60: Model of the City Councils comprehensive master plan to regenerate the declining quayside, 1967.

A prevalent remaining example of this is beneath Newcastles Cale Cross development on the Tyne Bridge, where a series of Escher-esque staircases lead to part of what was perhaps Smiths boldest vision and arguably his biggest anticlimactic disappointment. With his transformation of the central area progressing, Smith had moved his attention to Newcastles declining Quayside with epic proposals which would overshadow those already achieved elsewhere in the city.

Fig 61: Model of the bold Tyne Deck proposal to cover the River Tyne and unify the Tyneside area.

Not only did he envisage a comprehensive transformation of Newcastle, but the creation of an even greater concept; a city of Tyneside. The development in visual terms of the monumental building complex in an area of historical development representing continuity of major achievements and thus unifying the aspirations of the Region... The destruction of a boundary and the formation of a new City of Tyneside ... The transformation of an area potentially the most vital on the Tyne, from dereliction to the centre of public activity, a symbol of re-birth... (Ryder and Yates, 1967). The result of this unfinished conception is a series of little-known and empty plazas and decks leading literally to nowhere, across an unfinished walkway to a non-existent development intended to replace Newcastles historic Quayside. To conclude this study, three individuals were taken to experience the failed aspects of Smiths modernist vision, and asked to share their feelings of the non-place. They each shared the same feelings; Concrete, Bleak, Sadness, Emptiness, and all felt aprehensive as they descended into the forbidding non-place. Though the transformation which occurred in Newcastle in mid 20th century was arguably inevitable, if not essential, in a time of massive social changes, it seems in many ways that Newcastle has become two cities. A beautiful historic heart, juxtaposed against controversial modernism, with a bleak, forbidding and forgotten underside. This is perhaps the final legacy of T. Dan Smiths Brasilia of the North and somewhat symbolic of a vision of the future, tainted with zealous autocracy and corruption.

Fig 62: Study participant exploring the abandoned plazas beneath the Tyne Bridge.

Fig 63: Study participant exploring the windswept and flooded pedestrian deck above the Pilgrim Street roundabout.

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List of illustrations
Fig 1: City Section - Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 2: Stairs beneath Cale Cross (2011). Fig 3: Eldon Square - Stone, G. (1900). Fig 4: Castle Keep and Swing Bridge (2011). [Online]. Available at: http:// Fig 5: Hadrians Wall: Newcastle Roman Fort 3D Ancientvine. [Online] Available at: Fig 6: North East Corner of Newcastle - Hearnshaw, F. J. C. (1715) The Story of the English Towns: Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 7: The Castle from an Old Print - Hearnshaw, F. J. C. (1715) The Story of the English Towns: Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 8: Newcastle upon Tyne - Turner, J. M. W. (1823) Rivers of England. Fig 9: Tyne Bridge in 1772 After the Flood Ayris, I. (1772) A City of Palaces: Richard Grainger and the Making of Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 10: Addys Entry, Sellers Entry, Sandgate Armstrong, H. (1894) On the Waterfront: An Historical Tour of Newcastles Quayside. Fig 11: Map of Post Medieval Newcastle Faulkner, T. (Unknown) Historic Architecture of Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 12: Map of Early Industrial Newcastle - Faulkner, T. (1788) Historic Architecture of Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 13: The Tyne Bridge - Ayris, I. (1848) A City of Palaces: Richard Grainger and the Making of Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 14: Anderson Place Ayris, I .(1702) A City of Palaces: Richard Grainger and the Making of Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 15: Hood Street Ayris, I. (1912) A City of Palaces: Richard Grainger and the Making of Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 16: Dreadnought Superb Passing through the Swing Bridge - Ayris, I. (1907) On the Waterfront: An Historical Tour of Newcastles Quayside. Fig 17: The Side Phillips, G. (1952) Newcastle: Past and Present. Fig 18: Central Area Redevelopment Model Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 19: Marine Engineering Works Damaged by Bombing in September 1940 - Whalebone, T. (1940) Flickr [Online]. Available at: http://www. Fig 20: Dan Smith, Northern Planner Colls, R., Lancaster B. (1966) Newcastle upon Tyne: A Modern History. Fig 21: Dorrington Road, Fawdon - Newcastle Libraries (1957) Flickr [Online]. Available at: newcastlelibraries/4083360947/in/set-72157622859845568/. Fig 22: Central Pedestrian Zone Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 23: Central Area Redevelopment Sketch - Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 24: Bigg Market Pictures of Gateshead (1932) [Online]. Available at: jpg. Fig 25: Bigg Market (2010). Fig 26: Eldon Square - Colls, R., Lancaster B. (1949) Newcastle upon Tyne: A Modern History. Fig 27: Old Eldon Square Dorenberg. (2005) Panaramio [Online]. Available at: Fig 28: Scotswood Road Old New Skyscraper City (1963) [Online]. Available at:

Fig 29: Ward Boundaries Newcastle City Council (2004) [Online]. Available at: Fig 30: Prefabs, Fenham Byker, C. (2005) Flickr [Online]. Available at: Fig 31: Wyther Estate House - University of the West of England (1921) [Online]. Available at: demo/conweb/house_ages/council_housing/section3.htm. Fig 32: Streets with Set Backs Le Corbusier (1927) Towards a New Architecture. Fig 33: Streets with Set Backs Le Corbusier (1927) Towards a New Architecture. Fig 34: High Rise Shieldfield (2010). Fig 35: Aerial View of Shieldfield (2008) [Online]. Available at: http://www. Fig 36: Byker Wall (2008). Fig 37: Rabygate Byker, C. (2006) Flickr [Online]. Available at: http:// Fig 38: Hadrian House Deck (2011). Fig 39: 1950s Map of Newcastle Edinamap (1950) [Online]. Available at: Fig 40: Northumberland Street Skyscraper City (1950) [Online]. Available at: Fig 41: Split Level City Diagram Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 42: Masterplan for the City of Brasilia - Pearson Education (2010) [Online]. Available at: ThinkingSpatiallyImages/06_14.jpg.

Fig 43: Proposed Central Motorway - Skyscraper City (1967) [Online]. Available at: php?t=331974&page=228. Fig 44: MEA House (2011). Fig 45: Ellison Place (2011). Fig 46: Closed Walkway (2011). Fig 47: Princess Square (2010). Fig 48: Princess Square - Robinson Landscape Design (2008) [Online]. Available at: modelanimation-princess-square-01209.php. Fig 49: Charlotte Square - Stephen, T. (2009) Panaramio [Online]. Available at: Fig 50: Swan House (2011). Fig 51: 1950s Map of Newcastle Edinamap (1950) [Online]. Available at: Fig 52: Royal Arcade by 1969 - Skyscraper City (1969) [Online]. Available at: Fig 53: Royal Arcade - Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 54: Westgate House Shaw, A. (2005) [Online]. Available at: http:// self=nse&selfidi=780WestgateHouse_pic1.jpg&no=1. Fig 55: Preparations for Roundabout, 1962 - Forsythe, J. (1962) [Online]. Available at: Fig 56: Royal Arcade Smith, S. (1990) [Online]. Available at: http://

Fig 57: Westgate House Scar (2008) [Online]. Available at: http://www. Fig 58: Bank House Plaza (2011). Fig 59: Bridge to Nowhere (2011). Fig 60: Model of the Quayside Redevelopment Area - Burns, W. (1967) A Study in Replanning at Newcastle upon Tyne. Fig 61: Tyne Deck Model - Ryder, G. Yates, P. (1967) [Online]. Available at: Fig 62: Alice beneath Cale Cross (2011). Fig 63: Michael Beneath Swan House (2011).

Images without a referenced source were provided by the author.