2,300 visit Newcastle city of the future exhibition

Newcastle City Futures exhibition at  the Guildhall in Newcastle explored how Newcastle and Gateshead have altered since 1945

Council leader Nick Forbes at the Newcastle City Futures Exhibition at the Guildhall
Council leader Nick Forbes at the Newcastle City Futures Exhibition at the Guildhall

A manhole cover which doubled as a map was a hit at an exhibition on how life has - and will- change on urban Tyneside.

The 1960s cover from Killingworth New Town featured in the Newcastle City Futures event, which today ended its 19-day run.

The exhibition at the Guildhall in Newcastle attracted 2,300 visitors.

The venture, organised by Newcastle University Professor of Town Planning Mark Tewdwr-Jones, explored how Newcastle and Gateshead have altered since 1945 and also looked at grand schemes which were planned but never happened.

It also invited visitors to join in the debate about how the area could and should look in 50 years’ time.

The manhole cover maps were sited on a now-demolished tower block estate in Killingworth as a guide for residents and visitors.

Ann Fry with a manhole cover map of the Killingworth flats at the Newcastle City Futures Exhibition at the Guildhall
Ann Fry with a manhole cover map of the Killingworth flats at the Newcastle City Futures Exhibition at the Guildhall
 

Prof Tewdwr-Jones said: “It is a bizarre object. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it.

“The cover has a full plan of the estate and it is intriguing that architects and planners of the time thought that it was necessary.

“But people were moving in from terraced streets into a completely new and alien environment where the tower blocks all looked the same.

“We have had people from Killingworth who remembered the covers and who were absolutely delighted to see one again.”

Another exhibit was the original architects’ model for the Gateshead Get Carter car park and a lump from the demolished structure.

“It has been one of the most popular features of the exhibition and aroused different emotions, with some people saying they were glad it was gone and others that they missed it.,” said Prof Tewdwr-Jones.

“In many ways this has been the story of the exhibition as the changes from 1945 are within living memory and people remember the various developments.

“Now it’s a matter of where we go from here and what people would like to see in the next 40 years or so.”

A chunk of the Get Carter car park at the Newcastle City Futures Exhibition at the Guildhall
A chunk of the Get Carter car park at the Newcastle City Futures Exhibition at the Guildhall

He believes the event has opened the way for more co-operation between councils, planners, architects, academics and the public.

Visitors’ suggestions for the Newcastle future included a fully pedestrianised Grey Street, more cycle ways, a southern entrance to the Central Station from Forth Street, protection for the green belt and another bridge over the Tyne.

Presentations during the exhibition included those from Nexus on plans for the Metro, Newcastle Airport, Science Central, the Royal Institute for British Architects, Newcastle University Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

“I have been surprised by the enthusiasm shown by people for discussing the future of Newcastle and Gateshead,” said Prof Tewdwr-Jones.

“If this sort of exhibition had been held in London there would have been only negative comments but here there has been a strong sense of identity from people with Newcastle.

“There is a willingness to see change, but people want to help shape it.

“The exhibition may have ended but the conversation goes on.”

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