North arrival

Sat. 7th Oct., 2000

The area now called the Haymarket was a messy waste until 1808 when it was laid with cobbles and used as a Parade Ground for the local volunteer soldiers. Maybe for this reason three War Memorials have been erected in this locality.

Opposite is a detail from the foot of the South Africa War Memorial, erected in 1907, reminding us of the dead of the Boer War. Overhead stands a figure of Winged Victory, based on Nike of Samothrace an ancient Greek sculpture discovered in 1863. It stands atop a tapered octagonal column of 70 feet (21.5 metres).

South Africa Memorial detail
Haymarket and Percy Street

This north looking view shows the Haymarket, now a Bus Station, alongside Percy Street. This ancient thoroughfare was named after the Percy family, given the Dukedom of Northumberland after assisting Henry IV in ousting Richard II. However, the First Duke later joined with his son, Shakespeare's Hotspur, in an attempt to overthrow Henry in 1403. The new Bus Station, paid for by Marks and Spencer in 1998, replaced an earlier version dating from 1930 when the council closed the agricultural market here.

Barras Bridge
Civic Centre from St. Thomas' gardens
Supercharged soldiers surge headlong to destruction
Workers and families join the surge

To the north of the Haymarket is Barras Bridge. Here we can see St. Thomas' church, built in 1839 to a design by John Dobson. It stands on the site of the 12th century Leper Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene. In 1600 it united with St. Thomas' chapel at The Quayside.

The word "Barras" refers to the Barrows or burial mounds that used to be here as a result of that Leper Hospital. There was a bridge here over the now underground Pandon Burn.

Beyond the church is the Civic Centre, built in 1960 with later additions, to the design of George Kenyon. Sculptor J.R.M. McCheyne fashioned the sea horses around the tower, reflecting the city arms. The spire is topped by three castles, again reflecting the arms.

In this picture the circular council chamber peeps through the trees on the left, and in the middle is the evocative First World War Memorial designed by Sir W. Goscombe John R.A. and erected in 1923.

The life sized figures are soldiers marching to war with optimistic patriotism to the left and from the right workers, families and children join the general jamboree.

This was built 5 years after the end of the most gruesome and  pointless war, when the true horrors and wild mistakes of the generals were known. It is surprising that the tone of the figures more clearly reflects the blind faith in easy victory that was widespread at the beginning, rather than the total horror of total war.

There are no long lists of the lost souls, the inscription commemorates the Newcastle and Gateshead Chambers of Commerce. I like the sculpture, but as a war memorial it seems totally inappropriate, it misses the point completely.

1st WW memorial

Back at the Bus Station, the site of the original Haymarket, the Saturday travellers dodge the persistent rain.

Here stood the "Farmer's Rest" public house. An inn and hotel existed here for over 200 years. The last version was built in 1920 but fell prey to the irresistible march of mammon when Marks and Spencer decided to enlarge.

They paid for the new Bus Station, but their architect clearly had little experience of such things. He saw an open conservatory with slanting queue aisles.

It shut within 2 years as the glass roof panes started to fall out. It also  maintains the danger zone  here where  people and buses battle for the same space.

Haymarket Bus Station south entrance
Haymarket Bus Station, a bus queue
Haymarket Bus Station internal

The quaint netting draped everywhere is not an allusion to the fishing industry at the coast, but an attempt to stop those pesky panes from braining the passengers below. It seems that the structure is loose and its twists and shifts cause the glass to smash and drop out.

Note the motif on those problem panes! In the true nature of the followers of St. Michael (Patron Saint of Marks and Spencer shoppers) look heavenwards and see money!

Haymarket Bus Stataion roof panes
Percy Street looking south

This is the view looking south along Percy Street. The bus Station is to the left, and the grand building on the right used to house the Brewery offices. Those trees next to the 'phone box cover the site of the "Haymarket Hotel" public house, converted from and eighteenth century house in 1833. Locals and students tried in vain to stop its demolition in 1987 to make more car parking space for the University, who own this part of town.

This northward view shows the other end of the Brewery building. Note the green copper covered domed turrets at either end.

The traffic spends most of the day at standstill trying to get into the centre car parks. This part of the city is copiously provided with public transport. The  Haymarket, Eldon Square, and Blackett Street bus stations not to mention the Metro stations at Haymarket and Monument could shift all of these shoppers in a twinkling and at a fraction of the cost of all of those cars.

Percy Street looking north
Percy Arms and beyond
Eldon Gardens Car Park

High above the same spot shows the "Percy Arms" and the premises of "Kidie Kot", once a drum shop, are mere fašades to more modern housing and the inevitable car parking.

Here, where Handisides Arcade, an Edwardian glass and wrought iron shopping arcade on two levels with balconies and a central atrium, once stood is the overflow car park for "Eldon Gardens", the newly tacked on addition to the city centre shopping mall. Note that this monstrosity is masquerading as some sort of Tudor timbered building that is trying to be a church with that corner bell tower.

The other place of worship for  this locality, the football stadium, looms in the background.

Note below that the M & S architect has reflected the domed turret from the older building opposite. A clever touch.

Haymarket Bus Station and Percy Street

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

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