Why did Newcastle lose one quarter to a third of its architectural heritage in the post-war years? A simple answer is often given: T. Dan Smith, that notorious Labour leader of the City Council (1960-1965), who not only destroyed significant portions of our architectural heritage for political reasons but did so while lining his own pockets. But as I tried to show in Four Visions of T. Dan Smith the answer to this question is much more complex than conventional wisdom has often suggested (and I will refrain from investigating it here).
Newcastle, however, still lives in the shadow of Smith. The monuments to progress erected throughout and following his reign continue to wound our civic pride. Or perhaps, throughout our journeys over the Swan House Roundabout, past the City Library and Pearl on New Bridge Street, towards Eldon Square, we may in fact be unaware that fine buildings once existed in their place, years before reinforced concrete became architecturally fashionable.
Here is a collection of “Now and Then” images which will be updated in small doses as I discover new material. (If any readers have any pictures that they wish to share please comment and send away.)
The Royal Arcade (1832) and Swan House Roundabout (1969)
The Old Town Hall (1863) and No. 1 Cathedral Square (Jobcentre Plus) (1973)
The Pearl Assurance House (19th Century, 1971)
Kelmsley House, Westgate House (1972) and Vita Student Newcastle (2016)
Newcastle City Library (19th Century, 1968, 2009)
YMCA Building (1900) and Eldon Square Shopping Centre Entrance (2016)
Old Eldon Square (1840) and Eldon Square (1976)
At least we still have Grey Street (1836).