Backpackers hostel planned for former Journal headquarters

THE 19th-Century headquarters of The Journal is set for a new life as a 180-bed backpackers hostel.

journal office, assembly rooms

THE 19th-Century headquarters of The Journal is set for a new life as a 180-bed backpackers hostel.

It would be the second major backpackers base in Newcastle city centre.

The 177-bed Albatross backpackers hostel opened four years ago in a listed, former bank building in Grainger Street.

Now city councillors are being advised to back plans on Thursday for the conversion of the empty former Journal building off Falconar Court to the rear of Clayton Street, which was last used as a warehouse.

The plans include a cafe and three floors of dormitories in the building, which is behind the 18th-Century Assembly Rooms.

Planners say the site is located in what may ultimately become a much more accessible location if plans to redevelop the nearby Newgate Shopping Centre go ahead. If this scheme progresses then a new chare would be created running to the site directly from Newgate Street, opening up this part of the city considerably.

They advise the principle of basic backpackers style accommodation is acceptable in such a city centre location, given the easy access to the nearby Central Station.

“The site is located in what is currently an uninviting and almost abandoned alleyway and introducing a use which is likely to be occupied 24 hours of the day into that environment will almost certainly assist in making this area safer and more attractive,” say planners.

Given its past history as part of the 1870 offices of The Journal, it is considered that the opportunity to record the building should be taken prior to its conversion.

The demand for budget accommodation for visitors is shown by the fact that since its opening in February 2006, the Albatross backpackers hostel has catered for 250,000 customers.

Visitors can stay for a maximum of 14 nights with varying-sized dormitories ranging from two through to 12 bedded rooms. Most beds are under £20 a night, and there is a self-catering kitchen.

The Albatross is managed by Liane Rose and husband Chris Picha and was voted best hostel in England in 2007 and 2008 by the Hostelworld website.

Liana said: “We cater for visiting groups and for the genuine traveller, and places like the nearby Grainger Market have profited.”

Louise Davis, head of tourism and culture, said: “The proposal for a new hostel is a great example of the continuing confidence in the region and its visitor economy.

“It is important that we offer quality accommodation in a range of price brackets, and it is particularly important if the region is to increase the number of younger visitors exploring the North East. For these visitors, spending less on accommodation frees up their funds to spend on other activities during their stay.”

Earlier this month The Journal reported how the Springhill 450-acre organic farm near Seahouses is in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will open a bunkhouse and five wooden “wigwams” which will provide a total of 57 budget-price beds for tourists including walkers and cyclists.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer