Here I am in this instance on Tyneside exploring the labyrinthine netherworlds.
An architecture and sculpture of purely abstract form through which to walk, in which to linger and on which to play, a free and anonymous monument which, because of it’s independence, can lift the activity and psychology of an urban housing community on to a universal plane.
The idea for the Apollo Pavilion was the culmination of Victor Pasmore’s involvement with the planning and design of the new town of Peterlee in County Durham which began in 1954 with his appointment by A.V. Williams, the General Manager, as a consultant architectural designer to the Corporation. The brief was to inject a new initiative into the new town’s design, which had been limited by practical and financial constraints. The early departure of Berthold Lubetkin from the original design team, and the limitations imposed by building on land subject to underground mining, had led to a deterioration in the quality of the architecture being produced at Peterlee.
At Peterlee Pasmore worked initially alongside architects Peter Daniel and Franc Dixon to develop the Sunny Blunts estate in the south-west area of the town, though by the time the Pavilion was built Dixon had left and the team included the more experienced Harry Durell, Colin Gardham and landscape architect David Thirkettle. Pasmore continued to be involved with Peterlee until 1978 and designed the Pavilion as a gift to the town.
It was restored in 2009 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant of £336,000. The restoration restored the south side stairway – the other had not been part of the original design, reset the cobbles in the surrounding area and reinstated the two murals on the north and south walls.
A metal gate restricting access at night time to the upper level has been introduced, and the original lighting scheme, out of action since the mid 1970s, has been reinstated.
Victor and me do have previous – a visit to the then Civic Centre Rates Office
Along with the Renold’s building mural at UMIST.
I jumped the X9 bus and headed for Peterlee – walked the wide open streets in search of signs.
There were no signs.
I found it instead by chance and instinct.
Here it is.
Peterlee was to be the miners’ capital of the world and was named after the well-known miner and councillor Peter Lee.
Architect Berthold Lubetkin’s plans included everything from football pitches and tennis courts, to a rock-climbing centre and a zoo. However, to Berthold Lubetkin’s frustration, the National Coal Board opposed his plan and, after numerous failed attempts to agree on the siting of housing, Lubetkin quit the project in 1950. He later gave up architecture altogether and took up pig farming.
It remains a grand place to live it seems, tidy housing set in rolling greenery.
There are no longer coal mines or miners.
Brims and Co. Limited
Manors Car Park’s distinctive form derives from the constraints of the train line to east which collided with the new Central East Motorway A167 M which dips beneath, shaping the car park between these constraints. The curvature of the concrete decks sweeps uniformally across the site, interrupted only by the circulation ramp. The car park was the first multi-story car park in Newcastle and marked the beginnings of Wilfred Burns car-centric plans for the modernisation of the city through the Central East Motorway Plan – 1963.
Burns plan aimed to increase the economic growth of the city through greater convenience for an emerging car owning populace and even went as far as to incentivised cars travel by offering limited free parking in the city centre.
Manors car park connected and accompanied by an equally dramatic and elongated pedestrian footbridge from Manors Train Station – today Manors Metro, touching the car park for access before swooping under Swan House on Pilgrim Street Roundabout. The bridge takes what feels like the longest imaginable route over the motorway, allowing pedestrians to bypass Northumberland high street and take in the theatrics of the swooping concrete forms and motorway traffic.
In the early 1960s, under the leadership of T Dan Smith and his chief planning officer Wilf Burns, Newcastle city council undertook a comprehensive re-planning of the city centre that, had it been carried out to its full extent, would have led to the construction of underground motorways and a series of raised pedestrian decks running along Northumberland Street in the main shopping zone. The plan was that the new city would encircle the historical core, which would be preserved; meanwhile vast swathes of Georgian housing to the east would be razed. There were also plans for high-rise towers in the centre, only one of which was built.
This tendency in town planning was due in part to the publication of H. Alker Tripp’s book of 1942.
Along with Traffic in Towns an influential report and popular book on urban and transport planning policy published 25 November 1963 for the UK Ministry of Transport by a team headed by the architect, civil engineer and planner Colin Buchanan. The report warned of the potential damage caused by the motor car, while offering ways to mitigate it. It gave planners a set of policy blueprints to deal with its effects on the urban environment, including traffic containment and segregation, which could be balanced against urban redevelopment, new corridor and distribution roads and precincts.
These policies shaped the development of the urban landscape in the UK and some other countries for two or three decades. Unusually for a technical policy report, it was so much in demand that Penguin abridged it and republished it as a book in 1964.
In a one man war against the segregation of traffic and pedestrian I often walk car parks, ramps and all.
As a non-driving militant pedestrian I assert my right to go wherever I wish to – within reason.
Okay let’s go.
Land was acquired for this site in 1929 for the then General Post Office.
The first buildings are constructed in 1932 as General Stores, a Workshop and Garages.
These were demolished in 1966 to make way for the present development.
The current building was phase one of eleven, which was to include a further twenty two storey building with a planned capacity of twenty four thousand people by 1980.
Building construction started in 1969 and was completed in 1972.
Final cost was £1,218,401.
My thanks to Sonna Lawrence BT employee, for his time and information.
There is little by way of background information online, save for this thread.
It’s officially The Hadrian Trunk Switching Centre and it is indeed owned by BT. It’s just a telephone exchange with a handful of staff. I only know this as I used to work for BT 150 customer service when ISDN was being rolled out 20 years ago and when there was a fault in the Newcastle area it was usually something going wrong in this building.
I’ve heard that it goes down as far as it goes up.
Someone has mentioned the basement which is legendary amongst the people who work there. Some say it’s a nuclear bunker, some say there’s a tunnel that goes to the other BT building in Carliol Square, others say there’s nothing down there.
The rumour always was that the central core was nuclear bomb proof so people in power could still make phonecalls and there is also a service tunnel going across to the CTE on the other side of the central motorway.
One online source suggests it may have been designed by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.
All that aside I took a look around outside, come along circumnavigate along with me.
Here we are again for we have been here before.
I was taking a band of merry Modernist Moochers around town, so I stopped to snap this BDP behemoth once again.
On a sunny September morn.
David Lees informs me:
Halifax Building Society HQ, designed by BDP in an a multi-consultant appointment. Bill Pearson, partner and lead designer, John Ellis, M & E partner, David Cowler, Industrial Designer for the conservatrieve document storage and recovery terminals.
Rod Morris, Graphic Designer designed the sculptural Corten air vents. Richard Saxon, Americanophile introduced the theory of the open plan office. The building has twin fourteen foot deep steel beams clear-spanning between the four corner stair towers, within the chamfered soffit, a floor that also houses all the plant rooms. Lower floor of curtain walled cladding is a one acre open plan beaurolandchaft office, based upon analysis of workflow, the first in the UK and the biggest order for Herman Miller action office furniture at the time.
The office ceiling is a development of BDP’s coffered ceiling creating diffuse, glare free light and massive sound deadening, needed in open plan. Yellow cylindrical air inlet terminals by David Cowler. There ended up being so many duct penetrations in the fourteen foot beams that Harry Halsall, the structural engineer, had to prop them centre span. To create strong columns that could be lost in the window walls he used solid square section forged steel. No holds barred on this building’s cost. Executives suits of offices on the top floor with lavish bespoke joinery have recessed landscaped courtyards.
The building sits on a vast chasm that is storage for physical title documents the society had to keep. Its roof is a crash slab that can take the full weight of the building above collapsing. Large vertical robot arms travel the racks to retrieve the documents that get delivered to the office floor by a conveyor system. Office terminals designed by David Cowler who went on to design the iconic Samsonite Suitcase.
Nobody thought about the groundwater effect when the concrete basement was built. Without the weight of the building on it, it floated eleven inches. Luckily when the water was pumped out it settled back down precisely.
BDP Manchester’s golden years.
I arrived fresh from Uni just as it was finished.
Thanks to David for the inside information, here’s what it looks like on the outside.
Here we are again, we have been here before – one of the nation’s finest post war railway stations.
Gateway to the City of Culture.
Though I freely admit that my heart belonged to Stoke’s failed bid.
So much so I bought a shirt.
The station is the work of architects WR Headley and Derrick Shorten who worked with John Collins, Mike Edwards and Keith Rawson.
Outstanding architecturally, particularly for its spatial qualities and detailing.
It’s Grade II listed and rightly so.
So here is my exploration of its spatial qualities and detailing.
Once the head office of New Day Furniture.
A local company which designed, manufactured and retailed furnishings around the North West.
The office building is a highlight of my Stockport Walks – it has a lightness of touch incorporating a partial podium, slab block and lower rise extensions.
There is a sensitive mix of glass, stone, concrete and brick across a variety of scales and volumes.
May 2020 – plans are submitted to remodel the exterior of Hilton House
The remodelling of the building include reparations and repainting brickwork, render and cladding as part of wider plans to rejuvenate Hilton House to rebrand as a more attractive and contemporary office location in Stockport town centre.
Conversion of existing 1970s office building to apartments.
A combination of one-bed, two-bed and three-bed units ensure a new sustainable use in Stockport town centre.
The proposal incorporates the use of coloured glass panels to create a modern, fresh aesthetic.
As of July 2021 the property is under offer.
Post-Pandemic it may well be that the demand for office space is in retreat and the conversion to modern living space the more likely end use.
We begin on the Crescent – taking in the former AUEW Building.
It became part of Salford University’s estate, renamed the Faraday Building.
It is currently unoccupied.
The University’s Masterplan is shifting emphasis to the Peel Park and Media City sites.
Also leaving Crescent House in limbo.
The original master plan would have swept away the Victorian Technical Institute and Salford Art Gallery.
Across the road are the Maxwell Buildings.
They were built between 1959 and 1960 to a design by the architect C H Simmons of the Lancashire County Architects Department.
The interior decorative order of Sixties’ institutions was integral to the architectural design, sadly this is no longer so.
Which may be the subject of ambitious redevelopment.
Take a turn around the corner to the Cockcroft Building.
These incised stone panels obscured by plants.
To the left is the Clifford Whitworth Library – this is the original architectural impression – signed Peter Sainsbury.
The original fascia was tile clad.
Subsequently replaced by uPVC boards.
Yet again the original interior was integral too the architectural scheme and period.
It was designed by WF Johnson and Partners of Leamington Spa, as a lecture theatre block and gallery. It sits with its long axis running parallel to the railway behind. The series of grey volumes, occasionally punctuated by colourful floods of red and green trailing ivy, hang together in a less than convincing composition. The orientation and access to the building seem confused and detached from any cohesive relationship to the rest of the campus, but there is something perversely attractive about the right essay in the wrong language. The reinforced concrete building contained five lecture theatres, communal spaces, an art gallery, AV support areas and basement plant rooms. Following a major refurbishment in 2012, several additions were made to the exterior and its total concrete presence somewhat diminished. It still houses lecture theatres and a number of other learning and social spaces.
A ways down the road the former Salford Technical College.
Now the part of the University of Salford, this grouping is probably the most significant work by Halliday Meecham during this period. The blocks wrap to almost enclose a courtyard and they step up in height towards the rear of the site. To the front is a lecture theatre block in dark brick. The multi-storey elements are straightforward in their construction and appearance and have had their glazing replaced. Perhaps the richest elements here are the three totemic structures by artist William Mitchell, which were listed at Grade II in 2011. Mitchell was actively engaged with the experiments of the Cement and Concrete Associations during the 1960s and produced a wide variety of works for public and private clients; other works regionally include the majority of the external art and friezes at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and the Humanities Building at Manchester University. These textured concrete monoliths appear to have an abstract representation of Mayan patterns and carry applied mosaic. They were made on site using polyurethane moulds. There is another Mitchell work hidden behind plasterboard in the inside of the building.
Subsequently assimilated into the University.
Just down the way The Woolpack is no more.
April 1965 saw the Salford City Reporter proudly boast in an article that
The Ellor Street dream begins to come true – complete with interviews with residents of the newly constructed Walter Greenwood, Eddie Colman and John Lester Courts all which towered some 120 feet above the Hanky Park skyline.
These particular blocks of flats were of special significance because their completion was the end of the first stage of the Ellor Street redevelopment scheme which was to provide 3,000 new homes, the £10 million pound Salford Shopping Precinct and a new civic centre – which never got built – making this A Salford of the Space Age.
The tower blocks are now clad and the site a construction base for cladders.
Full details of Salford’s complex and extensive redevelopment can be found here at Tower Block.
Walter Greenwood Court was demolished in 2000/2001, whilst Eddie Colman and John Lester Court are now student accomodation for the nearby Salford University.
Onwards and underwards towards Salford Shopping City.
The architectural core of the site has been retained, including the 23 storey Briar Court residential tower.
Tucked in behind is Mother of God and St James RC Church.
Clearances took place from the middle of the twentieth century and new high-rise housing blocks were built, as well as a shopping centre.
There was a Catholic presence in the area from 1854, when schools were built. What was described in The Tablet as a beautiful church, an Early English Gothic design by M. Tijou – presumably Herbert Tijou, architect of the chapel to Loreto College, Manchester, was opened by Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster in 1875.
One hundred years later this church was demolished and replaced by the present building.
The architects were Desmond Williams & Associates, the design bearing some similarity to their St Sebastian, Salford. In 2010 the church of All Souls, Weaste, was closed, and the marble sanctuary furnishings brought to the church.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is steel framed with brick walls and a monopitch roof (originally covered with copper, now with felt). Bold brick forms create a presence, and the design is somewhat defensive, with few windows. The building is entered from a lower porch which forms a narthex. The slope of the roof and the stepped clerestory lighting create a striking impression inside, and full-height windows towards the east end incorporate stained glass figures said to have originated in the previous church. Marble sanctuary furnishings are presumably those from the church in Weaste and appear to be of later twentieth century date, while the font is of traditional type with a clustered stem and may have come from the earlier church.
This is an area which has seen a succession of clearances, redevelopment and shifts in demographics during a relatively short and intense period of change.
That process of change continues to hastily unfold.
Now I want to look in detail at the exterior ceramic art.
The façade of the market hall on Queensgate incorporates five roof sections with patent glazing and is decorated with square ceramic panels by Fritz Steller, entitled Articulation in Movement, set over natural stone cladding.
These continue across the façade of the adjoining shops, to make nine panels in all, with a tenth larger panel added in 1972, pierced by stairs and an entrance to the market hall from Queensgate.
They have representations of the mushroom shells of the market hall, turned through 90 degrees, with abstract representations of the goods available within.
The enormous abstract art panels weigh almost 50 tons.
Seen here in the 1970s when the trees and cars were smaller – though trousers and lapels were considerably wider.
1941 Born in Dresden, Germany.
1959-1964 Studied sculpture and architecture at Birmingham College of Art, Birmingham, UK. Specialised in sculpture.
Until 1969 Head of Art at Sebright School, Wolverley, near Kidderminster, Worcestershire, UK.
1969-1977 Established and led the Square One Design Workshop and Transform Ceramic Company, Snitterfield, near Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK.
1977 -1980 Established and led ceramic production in Isithebe- Mandini, Kwazulu, South Africa.
1980 Left South Africa due to basic fundamental differences of opinion over the apartheid regime. Established and led an art centre and gallery in Ewzulwini Valley near Mbabane, Swaziland.
1992 After the destruction of the art centre and gallery moved to Germany.
Since 1993 has set up a new business in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
Fritz now lives and works in South Africa and Germany as an internationally recognised artist.
Designed by the J Seymour Harris Partnership – now Seymour Harris Architects, the building was opened on 6 April 1970 and features a roof structure based on 21 asymmetric paraboloid shells.
The practice was inspired by Mexican Felix Candela for the innovative, lightweight concrete roof sections.
Steller met the project’s lead architect Gwyn Roberts while they were both at college in Birmingham.
Roberts was never to see his masterpiece listed, the architect, who left the practice to set up on his own in the early ’70s, died in 2004.
Along the north wall of the hall is a relief sculpture entitled Commerce, in black painted metal with semi-abstract figures representing agriculture, trade and products, also by Fritz Steller.
So let’s have a look at the largest ceramic sculpture in the world – partially obscured by trees.
The final day the first sight of cloud and sea mist.
I awoke early and took an amble around Amble.
Then off on the road to Warkworth and beyond to Alnmouth – where I revisited a small group of asymmetric post-war dormer bungalows.
Stopping to view the flood plain of the River Aln, chatting perchance with the local environmental officer.
Who explained how the flood defences had been removed, as this encouraged the natural process of flooding and receding to proceed unhindered, thus preventing property from being interminably sodden.
We also discussed the decline in vernacular architecture and the fashion for all that is New England, much to the detriment of New Northumberland.
One day everywhere will look like a someone else’s vision of somewhere else.
The good folk of Craster have wisely prevented the local bus from entering the North Sea.
The way north took me over a well laid concrete track.
I came upon three wise men from Durham, Rochdale and Doncaster, gathered around a concrete-bag bunker.
The first and last outdoor festival I ever done attended, unforgettable.
Weaving down and around quiet lanes I encountered this Walker Evans workshop.
Armstrong Cottages is an estate originally built by Lord Armstrong for the workmen restoring Bamburgh Castle.
The 1901 Census lists the current inhabitants with their provenance and professions.
114 residents are listed for the 19 cottages, of whom 53 are working men employed in the building trade: their professions include stonemasons, joiners, plumbers, rope & pole scaffolders, blacksmiths, and plasterers.
Many come from Northumberland or Scotland, but a significant proportion are from further afield: Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Durham, Yorkshire, Derbyshire – and one from the Channel Islands.
Seven nights in November will now cost you the best part of a thousand pounds.
The Armstrong family the former owners, made millions from the sale of armaments.
If I thought that war would be fomented, or the interests of humanity suffer, by what I have done, I would greatly regret it. I have no such apprehension.
He also said:
It is our province, as engineers to make the forces of matter obedient to the will of man; those who use the means we supply must be responsible for their legitimate application.
A couple on their bikes stopped to chat, as a babe in arms the lad had been transported by mam and dad, in a sidecar with tandem attached.
Such a delightful and poignant recollection – we wished each other well and went on our way.
I made my way from the rolling hills back down toward the coast.
Where a permissive path hugged the shore, which I cautiously shared with some equally cautious sheep.
Looking back toward Lindisfarne.
Looking forward to the past.
Pausing for the passing of a mainline train.
Berwick upon Tweed in view.
Come the evening I spent an hour or two in The Curfew, feasting on fine beer, company, haggis scotch egg and game pie.
Finishing with this well deserved and wonderful, bottle of Oude Geuze.
The final day – so many marvellous miles covered, forever stopping to chat, snap, look and learn.
No finer way to see the world, though so condensed and intense even at touring speed – apologies to all the things that I failed to see.
Passing a few familiar sights.
Pearl Assurance House Architect: T P Bennetts
BHS Murals Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins.
The building was originally developed by C&A and it is thought that funding for the reliefs might have been provided by the store and/or Northern Arts. It became BHS which subsequently closed, the building is now occupied by Primark, C&A estates still own the site.
Civic Centre entrance to the Council Chamber.
Taking a bold leap into the unknown I left the city centre, unwisely following unfamiliar roads, predictably becoming very lost.
I sought assistance from a passing fellow cyclist, very kindly he guided me to Tynemouth, following a mysterious and circuitous course across the undulating terrain – thanks.
The city quickly becomes the seaside with its attendant retail bricolage.
The Park Hotel built in the 1930’s and recently refurbished has been bought by The Inn Collection Group.
Much has ben down to improve the promenade at Whitley Bay
The Whitley Bay Seafront Master Plan sets out our ambitious plans to regenerate the coastline between St Mary’s Lighthouse and Cullercoats Bay.
The proposals are a mix of council and private sector developments and involve more than £36m of new investment at the coast.
In 1908 the Spanish City was officially opened.
A simple three-arched entrance had been built facing the seafront and the area was now completely enclosed within a boundary. In 1909, large rides appeared, including a Figure Eight rollercoaster and a Water Chute. Elderton and Fail wanted to make a statement and create a new, grand entrance to the fairground. They hired the Newcastle architects Cackett& Burns Dick to survey the site and begin drawing up plans for new Pleasure Buildings.
Building began in February 1910 and the construction was completed by builders Davidson and Miller 60 days later. The use of the revolutionary reinforced concrete technique pioneered by Francois Hennebique was perfect for the job, being cheap and fast. The Dome and surrounding buildings – a theatre and two wings of shop units – opened on 14 May 1910 to great fanfare. Visitors marvelled at the great Spanish City Dome, the second largest in the country at the time after St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, which provided a spectacular meeting place with uninterrupted views from ground level to its ceiling, 75 feet above.
Telegraph-wire cyclists, acrobatic comedians, singing jockeys, mermaids, they all appeared at the Spanish City during its first decade. One of the wings hosted the menagerie, where visitors could see hyenas, antelopes and tigers! This was converted into the Picture House cinema in 1916.
Eventually the Master Plan will be fully implemented.
Beacon House beckoned and I took time to have a good old look around.
Ryder and Yates 1959
A little further along, a selection of Seaside Moderne semis in various states of amendment and alteration.
Before I knew it I was in Blyth.
The town edged with military installations
Gloucester Lodge Battery includes the buried, earthwork and standing remains of a multi-phase Second World War heavy anti-aircraft gun battery and radar site, as well as a Cold War heavy anti-aircraft gun and radar site. The battery occupies a level pasture field retaining extensive rig and furrow cultivation.
During WW2 Blyth Harbour was used as a major submarine base and that combined with the heavy industry in the area it made a very good target for the Luftwaffe.
827 men of the 225th Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion of the U.S. Army, arrived at this location in early March 1944 and were attached to the 30th British AAA Brigade. Here they sharpened their skills in the high-altitude tracking of aircraft.
Uncovered this gem in the library porch.
Stopped to admire the bus station.
And found a post box marked Post Box.
Burton’s gone for a Burton.
The cycle route took me off road along the estuary and under the flyover.
Encountering a brand new factory.
And the remnants of the old power station.
Blyth Power Station – also known as Cambois Power Station, refers to a pair of now demolished coal-fired power stationsThe two stations were built alongside each other on a site near Cambois in Northumberland, on the northern bank of the River Blyth, between its tidal estuary and the North Sea. The stations took their name from the town of Blyth on the opposite bank of the estuary. The power stations’ four large chimneys were a landmark of the Northumberland skyline for over 40 years.
After their closure in 2001, the stations were demolished over the course of two years, ending with the demolition of the stations’ chimneys on 7 December 2003.
UK battery tech investor Britishvolt has unveiled plans to build what is claimed to be Britain’s first gigaplant at the former coal-fired power station in Blyth in Northumberland.
The £2.6 billion project at the 95-hectare Blyth Power Station site will use renewable energy from the UK and possibly hydro-electric power generated in Norway and transmitted 447 miles under the North Sea through the ‘world’s longest inter-connector’ from the North Sea Link project.
By 2027, the firm estimates the gigaplant will be producing around 300,000 lithium-ion batteries a year.
The project is predicted to create 3,000 new jobs in the North East and another 5,000 in the wider supply chain.
Long gone is the Cambois Colliery, its pit head baths and the buses that bused the workers in and out.
One hundred and eleven men died there.
The route headed along the coast on unmade roads and paths, I bypassed the Lynemouth Pithead Baths – having visited some ten years ago.
I was delighted to find that Creswell Ices were still in business and my temporary partner Adrian treats me to a tub.
Having arrived in Amble I was delighted to find the Cock & Bull.
Following a few pints I feasted on fish and chips.
An early start on another sunny day, cycling along long straight roads out of town, towards Middlesborough.
Slowly passing sleepy factories and desolate bus shelters.
Bunker like social clubs and flower lined roads.
The Albion club in South Bank has stood empty for the last three years.
Now local lad Mark Trainor has the keys – and says opening the doors to the club his own family frequented for years will be a dream come true.
He’s planning to cater for everyone, he says, and it won’t just be all about drinking.
Parents will be able to call in for a coffee after dropping the kids at school, there will be pool nights and Mark’s personal favourite – Pie Day Fridays.
Public art framing the Transporter Bridge.
The £2.7m Temenos structure has taken four months to piece together on the banks of the River Tees near Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge.
Thousands of metres of steel wire have been woven between the two steel rings to create the 164ft high and 360ft long sculpture.
It was created by artist Anish Kapoor and structural designer Cecil Balmond.
Temenos is a Greek word meaning land cut off and assigned as a sanctuary or holy area.
Following a 1907 Act of Parliament the bridge was built at a cost of £68,026 6s 8d by Sir William Arrol & Co. of Glasgow between 1910 and 1911 to replace the Hugh Bell and Erimus steam ferry services. A transporter bridge was chosen because Parliament ruled that the new scheme of crossing the river had to avoid affecting the river navigation.
The opening ceremony on 17 October 1911 was performed by Prince Arthur of Connaught, at its opening the bridge was painted red.
In 1961 the bridge was painted blue.
In 1974, the comedy actor Terry Scott, travelling between his hotel in Middlesbrough and a performance at the Billingham Forum, mistook the bridge for a regular toll crossing and drove his Jaguar off the end of the roadway, landing in the safety netting beneath.
The cycle track followed the river, which sports a fine array of industrial architecture.
Tees Newport Bridge designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson and built by local company Dorman Long who have also been responsible for such structures as the Tyne Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was the first large vertical-lift bridge in Britain.
Crossing the river and heading for Hartlepool.
Negotiating underpasses and main road cycle lanes.
I was delighted to be drawn toward Dawson House here in Billingham.
Austere brick churches.
St Joseph RC Low Grange Avenue Billingham
A prefabricated polygonal structure of the 1970s, with laminated timber frame. The seating came from Pugin & Pugin’s church at Port Clarence.
Just along the way Saint Lukes Billingham 1965.
In a slightly more upbeat mode St James the Apostle Owton Manor.
I convinced myself that this building on Station Road Seaton Carew was a former pub, I discovered following consultation with the local studies offices, that it was in fact a former children’s home destined to become a doctors.
I found myself looking back across the estuary to Redcar.
Northward toward Hartlepool.
Where the bingo was closed and the circus had left town.
Every Englishman’s home is a bouncy castle.
St John Vianney located on King Oswy Drive West View Estate.
Architect: Crawford & Spencer Middlesbrough 1961.
A large post-war church built to serve a housing estate, economically built and with a functional interior. The campanile is a local landmark.
The parish of St John Vianney was created in 1959 to serve the growing West View Estate, on the north side of Hartlepool. The church was opened by Bishop Cunningham on 4 April 1961. The presbytery was built at the same time.
I found myself on yet another former railway line.
The Cycleway was once a railway line designed by George Stephenson to take coal from the Durham coal fields to the docks in Hartlepool, where the coal was then distributed throughout the world.
The landscape opened up to coal scarred scrub, I lost the path and found a church, which imposed itself upon the hillside.
St Joseph RC Seaham County Durham
Architect: Anthony J. Rossi of Consett 1964
Seeking assistance from a passing cyclist I negotiated a safe passage to Sunderland.
The Sunderland Synagogue is a former synagogue building in Sunderland, England. The synagogue, on Ryhope Road, was designed by architect Marcus Kenneth Glass and completed in 1928. It is the last surviving synagogue to be designed by Glass.
The synagogue was listed as a Grade II historic structure in 1999.
I crossed the Queen Alexandra Bridge
The steel truss bridge was designed by Charles A Harrison – a nephew of Robert Stephenson’s assistant.
It was built by Sir William Arrol between 1907 and 1909 and officially opened by The Earl of Durham, on behalf of Queen Alexandra on 10 June 1909.
I took a right and arrived in Roker, where I saw these well tanned and tattooed cyclists taking a rest.
Pressed on, largely alongside the coast to South Shields.
Tyne Cyclist and Pedestrian Tunnel was Britain’s first purpose-built cycling tunnel. It runs under the River Tyne between Howdon and Jarrow, and was opened in 1951, heralded as a contribution to the Festival of Britain.
I cycled the banks of the Tyne, fetching up at the Quayside with a fine view of the Baltic.
Washed and suitably brushed up I hastened to the Bridge Tavern – to take a glass or two.
Well it seems that I had already cycled from Hull to Scarborough, so it must be time to head for Redcar.
Leaving Scarborough by the Cinder Track under the expert guidance of Mr Ben Vickers.
This was the site of the Gallows Close Goods Yard.
Formerly the Scarbough to Whitby Railway – the line opened in 1885 and closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching Axe.
Yet again I chance upon a delightful post-war home.
I parted company with the track dropping down to the Esk Valley from the Larpool Viaduct.
Construction began in October 1882 and was complete by October 1884.
Two men fell from the piers during construction, but recovered.
I found myself in Ruswarp, home to this enchanting bus shelter.
I bombed along the main road to Sleights.
There then followed a hesitant ascent, descent, ascent along a badly signed bridleway, fearing that I had climbed the hill in error I retraced, then retraced.
A difficult push ensued, a precipitous path, rough and untended, rising ever higher and higher.
Finally arriving at Aislaby, more than somewhat exhausted – the village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Asuluesbi.
Pausing to catch my breath I took the wildly undulating road to Egton – along the way I was alerted to the presence of a tea stop by two touring cyclists from Nottingham.
A welcome wet and a hunk of home made carrot cake.
Brewmeister Maria was good enough to suggest route through Castleton Moor and over the tops to Saltburn.
It was too hot a day for a detour to Fryup.
The curious name Fryup probably derives from the Old English reconstruction Frige-hop: Frige was an Anglo-Saxon goddess equated with the Old Norse Frigg; hop denoted a small valley.
An old woman at Fryup was well known locally for keeping the Mark’s e’en watch – 24 April, as she lived alongside a corpse road known as Old Hell Road.
The practice involved a village seer holding vigil between 11pm and 1am to watch for the wraiths of those who would die in the following 12 months.
Castleton Moor ghost.
In the village I was given further directions by two elderly gents, who had been engaged in a discussion concerning their long term mapping of acid rain levels in the area.
One was wearing a Marshall Jefferson t-shirt.
I climbed Langburn Bank onto the flatish open moorland.
Taking a brief break to snap this concrete shelter.
There then followed a hair stirring series of hairpin descents to the coast at Saltburn.
Followed by an off road route to Redcar.
Our Lady of Lourdes – Architect: Kitching & Archibald 1928
Built in 1928, this church was designed with some care and is an attractive, if fairly modest, Lombard Romanesque-style essay in brick. The use of a semi-circular apse, narrow brickwork and use of tile for decorative effect give it a pleasing appearance, typical of restrained but elegant work between the wars.
I arrived and took a look around, first time in town, here’s what I found.