A New Lease Of Life


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Published: September 5th 2019
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Gateshead International Stadium
I sit in the Free Trade Inn and gaze down the Tyne towards the city. A city built on trade and the river. The pub sits on an elevated site and has one of the cherished views in a relatively unknown area of the city. I can see the BALTIC, a glimpse of the Sage, the Blinking Eye and part of the High Level Bridge. We are a long way from the iconic party drinking scene of the Bigg Market and the Quayside and yet it is a mere stones throw. The pub, once the venue for workers after a hard days graft in the local industries is now home to the creative types and students who frequent this area, officer workers on their way home and the plain curious such as myself who appreciate good real ale. There is a free juke box, but it is waiting for a repair. The plaque on the wall above it paid tribute to Craig David, who used to live there. A pub cat as famous as the 10 Downing Street moggie. Alas, he has moved on to cat heaven. A bar full of real ales had attracted a group of Scots, who sat planning their next beer move with precision and notebooks. The food menu is strictly limited - pies by a well known local butcher and veggie samosas, I believe. However, pop up pub food was on hand this night. I was wondering why 2 beer barrels were placed strategically in the road outside. An vintage van reversed into to the top beer garden. It was a well practiced move. Scream For PIzza had arrived. The pub busied as folk finished work and scream for pizza they did. Orders were brisk. Welcome to Ouseburn.



I crossed the central motorway and headed along Newbridge Street. The Northumbria University Design Building casts a modern shadow over what is essentially an old industrial lansdscape. The metallic finish glistened in the early morning sun. In the streets to my left, modern blocks were rising to cater for the new student populations that are taking over many cities. A few 18 year olds were getting a feel for the area. The A Level results were out and some were about to embark on an adventure in a city they had not even considered. The apprehensive parents trailled along, unsure if this was the place
World Transplant Games 2019World Transplant Games 2019World Transplant Games 2019

Gateshead International Stadium
to which they wished to entrust their offspring for the next 3 years. The apprehensive looks could have easily been to do with the costs. A deposit on the rent. Thank you - the Bank of Mum & Dad card will do nicely. I turned off the road at a point with a reminder of other times. The inscription of Public Baths & Wash House could still be seen high up on the sandstone. The student facilities opposite are a far cry away. Ensuite is obligatory. St Dominics Church nestled alongside. I crossed over and located the Buscuit Factory. It is an art gallery and cafe space housed in an old warehouse. It didn't open early, but I wanted to check out the building. The huge block of flats from another age was equally impressive next door. I cut down Stepney Bank, passing the Tanners Arms. Street art adorned the brick work. It had a kind of Shoreditch feel about the area.



I came across an interesting discovery on Stepney Bank. I have seen elsewhere in Newcastle, the claims that Joseph Swan really invented the electric light bulb and demonstrated it it in the city. Edison went on to get international recognition, perhaps because he was a better businessman. However, a plaque on a house half way down credits the role of Jara Cimrman. He is credited as a famous inventor, traveller, philosopher, detective, amateur obstetrician, writer and poet on a website I have just read, but what exatly is true about this story is anybody's guess. Fake news? The plaque is on a building with a bright blue door that opens into thin air with a 20 foot drop to the pavement below. Interesting, but strange! The next interesting discovery I could smell from some distance. A riding stables! The Ouseburn area was apparently full of horse stables back in the day. The trusty animals were used to pull the cargoes up the steep hill from the wharf areas down by the Ouseburn and River Tyne. The Stepney Bank Stables was originally built in 1897 and was used by the Globe Parcel Express Company. A early day multi drop operation with no white vans. It continues on, offering riding lessons with an indoor arena further down the hill. I walked on down the hill towards the Ship Inn. The huge old railway viaduct converted for cars towers overhead. The underside of the arches had been decorated, as indeed had the side elevation of the pub. A huge sheep gazes down from the building. This is the "top" Ship and I note that "bottom" Ship Tavern is now called the Tyne Bar. An open piece of land sits opposite the "top" Ship. An old chimney stands idle on the edge. A plaque on the railings indicates that this was the site of a tenement block called Warburtons Buildings. The triangle of land ceases and Lime Street disappears down towards the Tyne. Lime Street is home to the building called Seven Stories, otherwise known as the National Centre For Childrens Books. The modern exterior facing on to Lime Street masks the old Victorian warehouse core of the building. The Ouseburn Trust have their offices opposite. It is from here that you can explore the old Victorian Tunnels - by appointment only. The Victoria Tunnel is a preserved 19th century waggonway, which runs under the city all the way from the Town Moor to the River Tyne. The subterranean highway was built to transport coal from the Leazes Main Colliery all the way down to to the river. The operation only lasted between 1842 and sometime in the 1860s, but was very handy as an air raid shelter from 1939 onwards. I returned to near the "top" Ship, where a footbridge passed across the Ouseburn. The warehouse on the corner is occupied by The Cluny. It opened in 1848 as a flax mill and was designed by John Dobson, who was a busy bloke in Newcastle architectural terms. The building then turned into a flour mill, before becoming the bar, artist space, recording studio and live music venue that it is today. A smaller theatre next door is The Cluny 2.



I walked over the bridge. The rear of The Cluny and Seven Stories reflected in the water below. The size of the buildings were more evident here, as the land fell into the water. This area marks the spot of the old Ouseburn Quay. A number of small craft were tied up on the Tyne side. I followed the towpath towards the Tyne. Street Art abounds. The area was big in glass making in the past and the old Liddle Henzell Glass Works kilns had received the decoration treatment. The Ward Brothers Steel Ltd cranes
World Transplant Games 2019World Transplant Games 2019World Transplant Games 2019

Gateshead International Stadium
caught my eye. The big yellow structures looked like mini- versions of the Harland & Wolf cranes I had photographed in Belfast earlier in the year for my blog Back To The Future We were nearly at the river now. The outside areas of the Tyne Bar were getting a paint makeover. The Toffee Factory opposite was mirrored in the waters beneath. The site was originally used as the livestock import pens for all beasts arriving into the city, but the majority of that was demolished. There was some warehousing belonging to a company called Steenberg and the tunnel entrance from the quay to the space is still marked onthe far side of Glass House Bridge. The name Toffee Factory is derived from the Maynards sweet factory that was located on the site. I always think of Maynards more in terms of wine gums and "Midget Gems" that I remember from childhood, rather than toffee. The Toffee Factory is trendy now serviced office accommodation. I noted one of the occupants is The Mag - one of the Toon's fanzines. The start to the 2019 / 2020 football season will give them enough material to moan about for the next few months. The posh Hotel du Vin towers over the valley from the vantage point near the end of the bridge. I walked back up into the area known as Byker - which survives despite the name association with Ant & Dec.



As you might have seen from other recent blogs, the World Tranplant Games 2019 was taking place in the city. At the Gateshead International Stadium, the athletics competition was ongoing. I grew up watching Brendan Foster on TV clocking up the miles on this track. He was Mr Athletics in the North East and was instrumental in getting this facility rebuilt into what it is today. It started life as the Youth Stadium in 1955, but was transformed in the 1970s with the help of the local Council support. A further revamp took place in the mid 2000s. The athletics on offer in the Games was a lot less strenuous affair. There were lot of walking, long jump and high jump events, all split into various categories for age and status. The main stand was reasoanbly well populated with fans and family members, all urging encouragement. I positioned myself near the Long Jump pit. The conditions didn't favour some
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Gateshead International Stadium
of the competitors from warmer climates. The Thais huddled together for warmth at the rear of the stand. A group of South Africans did similarly, but maintained the sunglassess in the interests of looking cool. A light drizzle and intermitent rain fell. A Thai competitor kept his bobble hat to keep out the chill. I will leave you to decide for yourself what look a Thai spectator I photographed was going for. An Irish girl wandered around with a clear plastic poncho on her head, looking like she was wearing a bride's veil. The fan groups occupied themselves displaying flags on every vantage point, although the South africans seemed to have more difficulty than most in getting just the right spot. The Columbians held their flags for enthusiastic waving. The Italians were scolded for placing one across an exit. Who needs Health & Safety? They were especially noisy in support of their athletes. The prize for race of the day went to the Womens 3000 Metres Racewalk (Ct 40 - 49). The British girl went off like a steam train and put serious distance between herself and all others. The South African and the Columbian tried to haul back her advantage. It went to the last lap. The South African losing her now lead by the stride, as the Columbian pegged her back. The Columbian won by a nose in the last 10 metres, sending her army of support wild. They had recruited the Argentines and Brazilians to add to the volumes, as part of the South America against allcomers aproach. A couple of Portuguese joined up too, keen to share the glory.



Whilst it is easy to single out the names on the medal tables, everybody taking part was a winner. A new lease of life being put to positive use at both the Gateshead Internation Stadium and the Free Trade Inn.



Appendix 1

World Transplant Games 2019

Athletics

Date : Thursday 22 August 2019 @ 1000 Hours

Venue: Gateshead International Stadium, Neilson Rd, Gateshead. Tyne & Wear. NE10 0EF.


Additional photos below
Photos: 111, Displayed: 29


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World Transplant Games 2019

Gateshead International Stadium
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World Transplant Games 2019

Gateshead International Stadium
NewcastleNewcastle
Newcastle

University of Northumbria
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World Transplant Games 2019

Gateshead International Stadium
OuseburnOuseburn
Ouseburn

Biscuit Factory
NewcastleNewcastle
Newcastle

University of Northumbria


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