Northumberland Street

Through Newcastle’s streets describing their historic background
Packed with information.
Approx.1-hr.-¾ mile.

The Walk is in in normal text, The History / background in italics.
Map of Newcastle‘

Old Fire Station’ Pilgrim Street.
With your back to the old station front door you are going to cross the road on your right.

1.Pilgrim Street
On the corner you should be at is a plaque dedicated to Joseph Swan. Looking at the plaque turn left and walk on underneath the large building covering the pavement and road. On the opposite side of the road is a Cinema. Continue on to the next corner (Bradford & Bingley Building Society). Cross the road to Vision Express which is on Northumberland Street. Crossing looking left along 4.Blackett Street and 5.Grey’s monument. Right is New Bridge Street West. In front is Northumberland St (12). (below 2. ‘Pilgrim’s Gate’). You have crossed through what was Pilgrim’s Gate.

Historically a rural lane leading north to open countryside, where Friars could be seen leaving Greyfriars Monastery (1272) (near fire Station) on their daily visits to The Chapel of Our Lady in Jesmond approx. 1 ml. (Origin of street name and gate).1835 the dilapidated street was demolished and rebuilt as the eastern boundary of the new town centre under construction. Its growth came with the building of the New Tyne Bridge 1927 bringing an upsurge in traffic and business as part of North-South London to Edinburgh route. Taking the limelight from neighbouring Grey Street (6).
As the street grew the Police: Fire Station 1933 along with HQ of the Newcastle Electric Supply Company 1927 (fronted now by a furniture store!) were built. Plaque left of entrance dedicated to local man Joseph Swann, who discovered, in Newcastle, the first ‘durable’ electric light bulb.In the 1980-90’s the street’s importance waned with the building of the North-South central motorway link via the Tyne Bridge again taking away business. Soon new developments at the Tyne Bridge end of the street around Swan House roundabout will see the street rise again!

2.Pilgrim’s Gate
You are now at the front door of Vision Express. See Northern Goldsmiths on the opposite corner / side of the street with the magnificent Gold Clock 1932…

The gate gave access to the Town from the North. A strong gloomy gate: history tells of gallant bravery during the siege of the town See History Page Captain Errington of Denton (a suburb of the Town) and his men stopped the Scots invaders from taking the gate from the outside! Defending so heroically that when the whole town was captured the gate was taken from the inside! It was refurbished in 1771 and demolished in 1802.

Cross the paved shopping area of Northumberland Street to the ‘city information kiosk’.

3. Monument Shopping Mall.
'Monument Mall'

On Northumberland St. stop with vision express to the right. Information kiosk left.
Behind the kiosk is Monument Shopping Mall. Go into the Mall walk straight through on ground level / browse through the Mall leaving at the ground level Grey’s Monument.
Blackett Street exit next to ‘Boots’ store. Walk now across Blackett Street in front of you toward the paved area of Grey’s Monument.

4.Blackett Street 1824
At this spot stood Fickett Tower part of the Town Wall. Turning around looking back toward ‘Boots’ store and Pilgrim’s gate to the right ran the line of the city wall with several houses leaning against it. When the wall was demolished in 1823 the area became an open dumping ground and sewer. Grainger (local architect) built 31 brick houses forming the new street.

Next to you is 5.Grey’s monument.

5.Grey’s Monument

The monument was built in 1832 to commemorate the success in parliament of Grey the local man famed in his efforts of half a century in securing the first reform act 1832 the first step to our modern Liberal Democracy.See plaque.

Seven dials circus…this area was designed as a focal or central point of the town by Grainger almost 100 years ago. A link point for all the streets in ‘Grainger’s’ new town centre. Easily on the Map of Newcastle how he planned the dial: connecting, Pilgrim. Grey. Grainger. Clayton Street’s and Old Eldon Square. Further on linking to The Bigg Market and Westgate Road.

On the paved Monument area. Left is Grey Street (HSBC Bank), right is Grainger Street and an entrance to Eldon Square Shopping Mall. Virtually all the buildings you can see were designed by the local architect Grainger.Still almost 100 years later the 135 feet tall monument is one of the City’s focal points. With several bus and underground rail routes now transversing over and under the landmark.

6.Grey Street
Look down the street and imagine a green picturesque valley where the Lort Burn served as a natural divide between the east and west sides of the town. Unfortunately the beautiful valley stood in the way of the planners and to fulfill Grainger’s dream ( it had to go! The valley was filled in and paved over and eventually became as it is now part of a system of sewers.
On 7th October 1862 WE.Gladstone wrote in his diary ‘England’s Finest Street’.
The street was hailed in 2002 by a BBC poll as one of the greatest Streets in Europe, with 40% of the buildings being graded and listed.

On the left side bordering the paved area you will see the HSBC Bank. Waterstones bookstore and Lloyds Bank. In this area stood the historic Anderson Place where King Charles I was ‘housed’ awaiting trial as a prisoner after the Civil War. In 1832 Grainger purchased and demolished the historic buildings. Further down the street on the same side see the magnificent portico of the Newcastle Theatre Royal.

'Theatre Information'

Central Exchange.
On the right side of the street high on the roofs see the domes of the Central Exchange complex 1838 where after a fire in 1906 the central arcade was built. The building originally contained a hotel, apartments, coffee and news rooms. It also contained an art gallery and theatre.

Walk down the right side of Grey street and look for the entrance to the Central Arcade. Walk into the Arcade.

7.Central Arcade.

After the 1906 fire the interior of the exchange was re-modelled as it stands today.

Inside take the first exit on the right, next to the tourist information office. Call into the office or carry on to the exit. Both lead out onto Grainger Street.

8.Nelson Street.
Leave the arcade and cross Grainger Street (in front of you) to the street opposite, Nelson Street.

On the left side of the street stood Nun’s field near to where The Franciscan Friary and Nunnery of St. Bartholomew once stood.
Most of Grainger’s designs were built in ranges of two and a half storeys decorated in varying degrees with columns, palisters and balustrades. Nelson Street however was designed partially (The Cordwainer’s and Music hall) by George Walker the remainder individually designed buildings are built into a range. Built in Grainger’s Town as a linking street, as it is now, between Grainger Street and Clayton Street. It also provided the northerly exit/entrances to Grainger’s new Butcher market. Walk on the left side of the street past these entrances notice the upper stories of the stone buildings opposite. The Music Hall and Cordwainer’s Hall (workers in leather) are now merely facades to the south side of the Eldon Square shopping malls.

Walk on the left side of the street to the end.

9.Fish Market.

The Fish Bar. Eldon Square At the end of Hood Street stands the Collingwood Pub (The Fish Bar). Looking at the pub to the left once stood the stone building of the town’s fish market and Green Markets. The new Greenmarket which replaced the old building designed by Grainger.

Facing the pub turn right and ascend the stairs into the entrance to Eldon Square Shopping Mall. Following the walkway pass The Post Office (left)and turn right. Take the first left, toward Old Eldon Square walking to the exit doors and out onto the street.
Walking out of the shopping centre cross Blackett Street in front of you (through the sea of buses). Walk to the entrance to the War Memorial and the grassed area of ‘Old Eldon Square’.

10.Old Eldon Square

Planned by Dobson and built by Grainger, the extension to Blackett Street, as it was described, began in 1826 by clearing an overgrown orchard. Completed in 1930 the three sided square has only one side remaining (the East). The North and West were demolished in the 1960’s town centre reconstruction to form the outer walls of the Eldon Square Shopping Centre. The three sides of the original square were centred around an ornamental shrubbery. The North side which faces Blackett Street contained 39 first floor bays; the remaining sides each having 27 all had cast iron balconies and contained 10 houses. The shrubbery was replaced in 1923 with the current design and war memorial. The Memorial 1923 paid for by public subscriptions is Grade II listed and is made from Granite. Portland Stone and Bronze.

In modern times the square serves as a meeting place and a place of relaxation for all town centre shoppers, workers and revellers.

Leaving the Square by the main entrance turn left, walk toward Grey’s Monument, on the same side as Gregg’s. Fenwick. Look out for the strangest of monuments of brick and terracotta cladding standing unusually alone on the pavement…what is it? (answer below)
Continue Passing Waterstones bookstore take the next left. Northumberland Court.

In front of you is Brunswick Chapel. Follow the road as it goes right. As you go right the Chapel is on the left

** It is a ventilator shaft for the Metro underground rail system beneath.

11.Brunswick Chapel

Grade 2 listed building (1820). Major refurbishment in 1981. Orphan House memorabilia, portraits and display cabinet.
OPEN: Building open most days 9.30 am - 3.30 pm. Memorabilia available to view on request, preferably by prior appointment.
ADMISSION: No charge.
Toilets. Some disabled facilities (no wheelchair access at present). Nearby parking.

With main entrance to the chapel behind you walk toward Fenwick’s on the left and Burger King in front. At the next junction (Northumberland Street) See right on the other side of the street the ornate white decoration of the first floor of Moss clothing shop. Turn left onto Northumberland Street and Fenwick’s store.

12.Northumberland Street

The Street.

Walk up Northumberland Street viewing / passing below listed (a,b & c)
Stopping at 13 below--entrance to Eldon Square.

Described in the 18C as a row of old brick houses that are rapidly becoming ‘shops’. The street was once part of the main London-Edinburgh route until the building of the City By-Pass. Standing on the pedestrianised street, as it is now, it’s hard to imagine the users over the centuries: Horse drawn stagecoaches, trams, trolley buses, petrol buses and latterly pedestrians. In 1932 shopping in the street grew when the high street giants of Marks & Spencer and C & A Modes moved in. M & S still remains. C & A left the UK and the site was filled by Primark store.

The street’s economic status continued growing until the outbreak of the second world war 1939 when the City’s economy moved significantly to industry and the armaments factories on Scotswood Road.
Unlike some streets in the city it held its status and grew accommodating most ‘high-street’ stores. It is the City’s Main Street, Front Street or First Avenue!
To maintain growth buildings altered on the ground floor to market access and space.

a) Fenwick Store.
There are few stores that have survived the modern transition to out of town shopping more successfully than Fenwick’s. Perhaps the survival entrepreneurialism comes from the founder John Fenwick 1846-1905. He started off a store in this spot in 1892. He gambled on the new idea of providing ‘ready to wear’ clothes. The shop was an immediate success. Still growing and still trying new ideas in 1902 the store experimented on its now famous Xmas Bazaar with the motto ‘walk-around’ buy later. He thus had the world’s first walk around store a ‘bon marche’.The success of the store led in 1913 to an extension and in 1915 to the building of the new front. The front was restored again in 1996 and stands as we see it today. In 1998 the published turn over for the store was £250M.

b) Statues
Walking on up Northumberland Street passing Fenwick’s on the next building (currently being renovated) first fl. proudly defiantly and magnificently, like the presidents of mount Rushmore on the next building (first floor) stand four people who are legends of the North’s greatness.

Thomas Bewick b.1753
Born a few miles West of the town. An Internationally recognised wood engraver. Showed skills at 14 as an apprentice. Used mainly natural world objects "British Birds" published in 1804.

Harry Hotspur b.1364
Sir Henry Percy, knighted aged 11. First son of Henry,1st Earl of Northumberland. At 14 he was fighting with fellow Northumbrians for the English against the Scots at the siege of Berwick. In 1388 he was again fighting the Scots this time at Newcastle. Henry followed the triumphant Scottish Earl of Douglas to Otterburn where the earl was slain. In 1403 he publically declared himself against the King. With support from the Welsh he and his followers fought against the Kings forces at Whitchchurch where he was killed.

Sir John Marley
With great bravery and well out numbered he led the defence of the town holding off for some 3 months against a (Parliamentarian) Scottish army during the civil war. He finally retreated to St. Nicholas Cathedral, when the attackers threatened to blow it up Marley placed Scottish prisoners in the bell tower.On the 19th October 1644, the town was captured. Marley and several of the Royalists left in the town held out for a few more days. The Scots are said to have respected Marley’s bravery. They left the town some weeks later without pillaging or looting. Marley was taken prisoner but escaped to France.

Roger Thornton b.1374
From poor humble beginnings became one of the town’s wealthiest merchants. As MP at the end of the 14th century he secured the town’s new charter, ‘called the County of the town of Newcastle for ever’. He then became Mayor of the new county town. (8 times) Married he had 14 children.

c) Newcastle Orphan House
John Wesley - On Barratt’s shoe shop a plaque above and to the left to denotes the site of former Orphan House . Newcastle considered as John Wesley’s northern ‘cornerstone’ in England. Wesley Square on the Quay, includes memorial obelisk (recently refurbished) to John Wesley first preaching on Tyneside. Nearby Keelmens’ Hospital which was an early Methodist base in the area.

On the opposite side of the street leading off between Superdrug and Hennes is Saville Row.

d) Saville Row
Named after a visitor to the town, Colonel Saville of the Yorkshire Militia who was based here and won the hearts of the locals!
The street once lead east from Northumberland Street into neighbouring Shieldfield. Next is Superdrug see first floor: left is all that remains of the late 19C Northumberland Street.

On the same side stood Callers Department store (burned down 1969) which stood where JD Sports stands today. On the same side stands the giant HMV store.

Back on the Fenwick side of the street and passing the ‘card’ shop is the entrance to Eldon Square Shopping Centre.

13. Eldon Square Shopping Centre
'Shopping Centre Information'

If you enjoy the ‘Mall’ style shopping experience, walk in and soak it up. But, remember to leave by the same exit.

About 100 yards into the centre, is a famous city centre store, once Bainbridge's Department Store it is now the John Lewis Partnership. Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge, b. 1817 founder. Youngest of 7. born in Weardale, father was a farmer. Apprentice at 13 to a draper. At the end of his apprenticeship, he spent 2 yrs in London. Returned to Newcastle partner to a draper in the store in Market St. they were one of first to introduce fixed price labelling ‘no haggling!’. Later introducing ready made clothes. In 1849 in Market St. opening possibly the first store with department’s. Emerson died in 1892. Business expanded moving to its current location.

14.Pruhoe Street.

Passing (13) or leaving (left) by the exit / entrance there is an alley on the corner ‘Pruhoe Chare’. (not wheelchair accessible…wheel chairs users would need to carry on passing Marks & Spencer’s on Northumberland St. to the Metro Rail Station at the top of the Street and rejoin the route there) See 15 a. below.

Once the entrance to Prudhoe street. Underground is the Northumberland Arms pub

Go up the incline and look to the left at the stonework intermingled with the brickwork relocated there from buildings that have been demolished in the city.

The date was originally in the Y.M.C.A. Blackett Street. The heads were originally on the walls of the old Central Library and the remaining carvings were part of the old Town Hall. One of the heads is the Tyne God, the identity of the others is not known, a guess would be that they are of mythical gods, and the seahorse was part of the city crest.There are photographs of these in city library’s illustration collection. info. Kindly provided by Olive Graham,Library & Information Officer.

Continue through the glass doors. Turn to the right. Entrance to Marks and Spencer; left ‘hidden’, not sign posted, is an exit a recess in part of the wall. Take that exit. Go down the stairs. See the toilet roll shaped multi storey car park in front to the left. Far in front on Percy Street is ‘Mark Toney’s’ Ice Cream Parlor. Follow the pathway to the right and walk on under the bus concourse.


You are now in the area of Haymarket, the street is Percy Street. Named after ‘Harry Hotspur’s’ Percy family. Haymarket (once used as a trading centre for animals and agricultural produce) was a messy waste until 1808 when cobbles were laid and it was used as a Parade Ground for local volunteer soldiers.
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.

Looking over Percy street to the right of Mark Toney’s the on the corner once stood the impressive Palace Theatre. Further to right the grand buildings were once the Newcastle Brewery offices. Further to the right the trees next to the phone box stand on the site of the "Haymarket Hotel" public house, a converted eighteenth century house (1833). Locals and students tried to stop its demolition in 1987 to make more car parking space for the University, who own this part of the town.

In the bus concourse following the pathway passing Marks and Spencer’s store or refresh in the store.

15 a)
Continue on the pathway, leaving the concourse to Haymarket ‘M’ Metro Station next to entrance and Lloyds's Bank.

Behind the circular station on the paved area stands the 70 foot high South Africa Memorial. 1907, commemorating those who fought and died in the Boer War. Across the paved area, is another Lloyds TSB Bank near to a pelican crossing. Further on is the Church of St. Thomas. This area and ‘the masses of traffic lights’ is the beginning of Barras Bridge.

Walk to the corner next to the second Lloyds TSB Bank.

16.Barras Bridge

Barras Bridge area leads from this point (St Thomas Church on the right), out of the town following the, now filled in, deep valley of the Pandon Burn.

The word "Barras" refers to Barrows hillocks, graves or burial mounds possibly of the many lepers who died in the two hospitals. It may also may have come from the word Barracado (outlying defence of the Town). Where ever it came from what is certain is that there was a bridge here leading from the site of the present church to the Hancock Museum lying far over to the left through the traffic lights.

At the second bank Cross the road at the traffic lights to the church.

St Thomas Church.1839.
The Church
Sculptor: John Reid

Entering the church grounds at the West end of the church is a white coloured memorial and statue. This statue is of bronze and granite with a pedestal with curved Portland Stone steps, a terrace and benches. It is a World War I Memorial to the 6th (Territorial) Battalion of Northumberland Fusiliers. With a World War II dedication to the 43rd and 49th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment. The bronze figure is standing over the severed head of the dragon. An ideal spot for a rest!
Designed by Dobson it was built in the area of the old 12th century Leper Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene. The church was consecrated in 1830 and cost the trustees of Saint Mary Magdalene and Holy Jesus Hospitals £6,000 to build.

16b. War Memorial

Enjoying the grounds, walk on past the church entrance.

The World War I Memorial by Sir W. Goscombe John R.A. and erected in 1923 once described as one Britain’s finest sculptural Monuments.
Sir George Renwick, local ship owner gave the memorial to the city. To commemorate, the raising of the World War I Commercial Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and celebrate the safe return of his five of his sons from war. The monument signifies the call to arms in 1914, the life sized subjects are taken from the massing of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers in April 1915, as they patriotically marched to war led by drummer boys through the Haymarket toward the central railway station and the front. The day is depicted by well-wishers parents, wives and children, some cheering, some weeping. On the other side is the Newcastle coat of arms and figures of a Northumberland militiaman, 1674, right a fusilier, 1919.

It is said that at the unveiling a bystander is said to have asked why the soldiers are marching off northwards, away from the front!

Behind the monument is the Newcastle Civic Centre.

16c.Civic Centre
Newcastle Tourist Information Service

Civic Centre 1960? with later additions, was designed by George Kenyon. The main 12-storey office block is capped by a copper lantern and beacon with three castles from the coat of arms 250 ft above the ground. The sea horses around the tower also reflect the city coat of arms.The mushroom topped circular (elliptical) shaped building is the main council chamber.

River God
The 16 feet tall 'River God Tyne' on the wall of the building between the council chamber and main offices was added 1968. It portrays the river God in human form. It is one of the eight rivers represented on the sculptures on Somerset House, London dating from 1786. The original mask with additions symbolised crafts found in the valley of the Tyne. The tower behind contains a carillon of 25 bells which play Tyneside tunes four times a day.


The quickest route back to where the walk began is to return to Northumberland street and walk in a straight line back to Pilgrim Street.


Wheelchair access to both can be gained by crossing toward the ‘Playhouse’ Theatre passing it on the left. Take the next left and cont. to the security gate a few yards up the street on the left. 1) Hancock is on the right and directions to 2)Antiquities can be obtained at the gate.

With the war memorial behind you: looking away from the Civic Centre…over the road, through the traffic lights and trees, is a large brick building with white lettering: the Newcastle Playhouse Theatre:
- To the right of the Playhouse on the next corner is a statue of Armstrong (local industrialist). Behind the statue stands The Hancock Museum.
- To the left side of the Playhouse in the University complex stands The Museum of Antiquities. To get to the museum go to the foot ramp at the left side of the car park (at the side of the bank) in front of the theatre. Climb the steep stairs. Cross a road: staying left under the arches: at the exit on the other side is the museum.
- In the next building is The Shefton Museum of Greek Art & Archaeology housing the most important collection of archaeological material in the North of England

1) Hancock Museum
Preview The Museum
Here once stood the leper hospital of St James’s and ‘sick man’s close’ with financial support from the Armstrong and Joicey families. The close was the actual burial area used as the burial place for the lepers.
The first collections were provided by The Natural History Society and the then famous naturalist John Hancock of Newcastle. Who was given responsibility to supervise the building and arranging of exhibits.

2) The Museum of Antiquities
Where is housed a magnificent collection of Roman artefacts and a model of the Tyne Valley with Hadrian’s Wall running parallel along most of its length.

3) The Shefton Museum of Greek Art and Archaeology
Housing the most important collection of archaeological material in the North of England. Mon-Fri 10-4pm tel 0191-2228996The quickest route back to where the walk began is to return to Northumberland street and walk in a straight line back to Pilgrim Street.

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