Following a path from the Grand Entrance and Council Chambers, my genial host and erudite guide Debbie took me behind the scenes into the back rooms.
Further delights unfold in this most remarkable of buildings.
Firstly into the Banqueting Hall – beneath your feet Arabescato Marble, inset with a sprung dance floor and on the vaulted ceiling hand carved African walnut. The slightly sloping walls are of Clapham Stone, with the only double glazed arrow slit windows in the country.
The chandeliers are hand cut crystal from Westphalia and have the Newcastle castles on the top part of the fitting.
The seahorse carpet was recently replaced, digitally designed and woven to perfectly match the original.
The facing wall is graced by a John Piper tapestry, which represents the mineral resources of the area.
Grilles by Geoffrey Clarke cover the alcoves and have an orange backlight to simulate a medieval fireplace.
The room can seat up to six hundred people and is available for hire, in regular use for a wide variety of functions.
The Model Room houses a magnificent architectural replica of the city.
It is also blessed with a living, walking talking spiral staircase, cast in one single piece of steel, it moves with you as you ascend and descend.
This ante room dressed with Arne Vodder furniture, walls clad in raw silk and hand carved wood, is a place green oasis, a sea of calm.
Opened on 14th November 1968 by King Olav of Norway, opened for me by Debbie Harvey on Friday 5th May 2017, thanks ever so much.
This takes us into architect George Kenyon’s Civic Centre
Cast Aluminium portals and reveals to Ceremonial Entrance by Geoffrey Clarke.
Staff on reception were once able to notify officials of the arrival of guests and dignitaries, using this right bang up to the minute electrical intercom.
To the right is the engraved John Hutton Screen engraved glass panels depicting – the inventive genius of Tyneside’s most famous sons and daughters.
From left to right: George Stephenson the steam locomotive, Sir Charles Parson the turbine engine, Sir Joseph Swan electric light bulb, Lord Armstrong the gun.
Brigantia – Celtic Goddess of the tribe, The Three Mothers – offering fruit for fertility, Mithras – the slaying of the bull , Coventina the goddess of a well, she reclines on a water-borne leaf and below her are three intertwined figures of nymphs of streams, for in those days every self-respecting stream had its own tutelary deity. All have been found when Roman temples have been unearthed on the Roman wall.
A twenty three foot high, eleven tiered chandelier of hand cut Bavarian crystal from Westphalia, hangs above your head. This chandelier was commissioned on behalf of Newcastle City for the opening of the building in 1968. It has 119 light bulbs, the crystal on the top is in the shape of a castle on the base of the chandelier are sea horses. The walls are lined with random English oak, the floor down stairs is Portuguese Verde Viana marble.
Elegant Arne Vodder designed sofas litter the entrance, this truly is a palace of delights a temple of Municipal Socialism, take your shoes off set a spell.
Y’all come back now!
Within the exterior of architect George Kenyon’s distinguished civic drum sits the inner sanctum of the Council Chamber – my thanks to the delightful head of hospitality Debbie Harvey for providing me with the most erudite and educational tour.
Outside the division bell, set against Danish slate, was originally to be found on the HMS Newcastle.
This silver bell is of the 10,000 ton cruiser HMS Newcastle presented to the ship by the Lord Mayor and citizens of Newcastle upon Tyne to mark her commissioning in 1937. Launched by the Duchess of Northumberland on the 23rd January 1936 at the Walker Naval Yard. In 1959 HMS Newcastle was towed from Portsmouth to Newport Monmouthshire to be broken up.
The entrance padded with soft green leather the door clad in hand carved Cedar of Lebanon.
We illuminated the illuminated sign and entered – what treasures await, leather and teak furniture by acclaimed Danish designer Arne Vodder, worth thousands and thousands of pounds. Fine Swedish marble and further Cedar of Lebanon acoustic cladding, each surface of the highest quality and chosen to enhance the sound properties of the space. The councillors seated once a month on 149 leather clad seats with integral voting and microphone modules. A high grey, skylight lit domed ceiling.
This is work of the highest possible quality, a proud summation of Municipal Socialism, our friends in the North, matched with the imaginary world of the Man from Uncle.