Cook's Corner

City centre
Sat. 16th Sep., 2000

Here, at the junction of Northumberland Street, Pilgrim Street, New Bridge Street and Blackett Street stands the Pearl Assurance building. It houses shops at ground level, and is the home for BDO Binder Hamlyn, the renowned Chartered Accountant company.

This architecture came straight from the box, a steel frame with concrete cladding. It has more in common with bunker or grain silo design than an asset to the city centre.

Although not taken from exactly the same vantage point, this 1910 photograph shows the previous building. This was torn down to make way for the present monstrosity during the early 1970s. Now, do you think that the people that designed and constructed that old building thought that it would only last for 70 years or so?

The morons responsible for the new one have made sure that their building will last; the pre-stressed structure will be impossible to demolish without severe damage to the surrounding area. Truly, they must have thought that they were casting pearls before swine!

This part of town is called "Cook's Corner". Thomas Cook's shop window is on the corner site, the small window on the extreme left was Dr. Scholl's Foot Comfort Shop.

A little distance to the west, along Blackett Street, this mysterious brick structure stands guard over the phone boxes. It has no doors, and would appear to be a piece of bizarre street art. It is a ventilator shaft for the underground railway underneath. The approaching trains push large gusts of air, like pistons in a massive bike pump, into the Monument station. This chimney vents the pressure differences. The biscuit fired tile covering was designed during the late 1980s to improve a boring hexagonal louvered grey lump. Not all modern construction is thoughtless. Indeed, the excesses and hideous 1960s dash towards design disaster seems to be a thing of the past.

This charming detail is of a building in Blackett Street currently occupied by Boots on the ground floor.

The little cherubs with their pan pipes seem to be proclaiming barrels of wine and bunches of grapes on this 1920s fašade.

This is the view looking south down Pilgrim Street. Northern Goldsmith's clock stands sentinel. The other example is in Clayton Street.

Watson House takes its name from the previous occupant, E. Watson & Sons, House Valuers, Estate Agents and carters of house goods. They sold you the house, moved you in, and arranged the insurance to boot! This building was erected during the immediate pre second World War years and for many years featured a giant flashing "Bovril" sign. The Odeon (Paramount) was a purpose built luxury cinema built during the 1930s

Note the Newcastle symbol in the new railings nearest the camera.

This is the view looking the opposite way up Pilgrim Street in 1910. The white building is the elegant Conservative Club. The Pearl building stands proudly and new on the corner. The Conservative Club is the site of a hideous 1960s office block that straddles half of the road, and extends far into the sky. Watson House is on the corner, and the gap between the two is now occupied by the Odeon Cinema.

This north facing view up Northumberland Street shows a small white building. This is the only remaining original building from this street. You can see how it is dwarfed by the newer structures. Pictures from the late 19th century show all of the buildings to be about the same height.

This small shop was for years the home of Amos Atkinson Boot manufacurer, but has, since 1991, been the Suit Co.

Northumberland Street has, eventually, become traffic free. It had been southbound bus only since 1972, and was finally closed to the infernal combustion engine and the horseless carriage in 1995.

The other side of the street sports one entrance to the recently opened Monument Mall, tastefully fashioned using modern materials and designs, but with a classical appearance. The 1932 premises of J. & J. Fenwick grace the next stretch.

Notice the city information point, the small dark green cylinder with the white ball on top. Interactive screens tell the inquirer of city features and directions.

This narrow lane, Northumberland Place, leads to Queen's Square. The vertical stripes on the new library building can be seen in the distance.

At the point where that clock stands now, the left hand side of the lane was occupied by the Queen's Theatre, a medium sized cinema that closed in 1982.

This tall chap welcomes you to the popular shopping area. He may not be designed to last centuries, but I like him. He proudly reclaims this area for people. For too may years pedestrians had to flee for their lives from the speeding traffic.

Whilst Grey's Monument is being repaired and cleaned, it is surrounded by white plastic sheets and this plywood covering.

These earnest people are campaigning to save Scotswood, a westerly suburb, from more mass demolition. This area is a mere skeleton, thanks in part to poor housing stock and also due to epidemic levels of crime and vandalism.

I shall feature this portion of Newcastle and its rich history in a future page.

Click here to see high quality album copies of these and other photographs from the same shoot

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