Living in a landscape of rivers and old railways means we have lots of bridges in our area. Here are some of my favourite bridge pictures that I’ve previously featured on my blog – from Tyneside icons to forgotten relics – for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.
This was the chosen location for early settlements because of its defensive position high above the River Tyne – the Roman fort at Pons Aelius, an Anglo Saxon settlement and the original Norman motte and bailey castle built by Robert Curthose all occupied this site at different times. The medieval Castle Keep still stands guard on this ancient vantage point today.
I chose this image because I think of this spot as the starting point for the development of the whole of the City of Newcastle. Modern day visitors can climb to the roof of the Castle Keep and look out right across the city, just as medieval knights and soldiers in the English Civil Wars would have done in the past. The views have changed a lot, of course. However nowadays, visitors can enjoy the cityscape and spot local landmarks rather than worrying about the approaching Scottish armies 🙂
Nikolaus Pevsner, the eminent 20th century architectural historian, described Newcastle’s Grey Street as “one of the finest streets in England”. Grey Street is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. That’s the same Earl Grey who gives his name to the famous fragrant tea. However, the Monument to Earl Grey that heads Grey Street recalls something even more important than tea! It celebrates Earl Grey’s Great Reform Act of 1832 that gave Britain’s electoral system a good shake up, gave more men the vote and saw an end to the ‘rotten boroughs’ … well, at least it was a move in the right direction 😉
Newcastle’s 19th century grandeur, that is so beautifully displayed in Grey Street, was significantly influenced by two men whose names are synonymous with the elegant classical architecture that still graces the contemporary city, Richard Grainger and John Dobson. Unsurprisingly, both men have Newcastle streets named after them.
This photo shows Grainger Street, which also leads up to Grey’s Monument. Richard Grainger was the son of a quayside porter, and set himself up as a builder and developer. With the help of his wife’s wealthy family, he built up a very successful business. In 1831, it was he who created the vision of an elegant and fashionable new street, Grey Street, right in the heart of the city centre. You can read more about Richard Grainger’s vision for Newcastle’s Grey Street on this blog post by Tyne & Wear Museums service.
John Dobson Street
Here’s a contrast of architecture on John Dobson Street (though neither of these buildings were designed by John Dobson!) – Newcastle’s 21st century Central Library building and the early 20th century Laing Art Gallery, built in the Baroque style. John Dobson was a 19th century Newcastle architect and a contemporary of Richard Grainger. Dobson had trained in London and returned to Newcastle with many fashionable ideas from the capital. Working together, John Dobson and Richard Grainger put their elegant stamp on new developments in Victorian Newcastle.
The Tyne Bridge
No trip to Newcastle would be complete without a view of our world-famous Tyne Bridge. To close my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, I have chosen this photo taken looking west along Newcastle’s historic Quayside. You can see four of the seven bridges that span the river within a short distance of each other along the city centre stretch of the River Tyne. Reading from the river surface upwards, we have:
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Newcastle cityscapes. The links in the text will take you to more information and photos about the people and places mentioned, either in previous blog posts of mine or via other resources I have found.
Lines and angles abound in the our built urban environments. The above urban ‘still life’ was captured by my son – he loves to spot quirky geometrics. This shot is packed full of lines and angles – from the intersecting lines of the paving stones and the edging angle of the grass, to the strong parallels of the bench and the deep toned angled shadows.
This is a fairly typical street scene in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. The street and its lines of perspective lead your eye to Grey’s Monument in the distance. The buildings lining the street incorporate many lines and angles in their designs. The road itself offers its own take on lines, with the painted ‘No Parking’ and bus lane lines. The shadows add their individual angles to the scene.
The Stephenson Works here in South Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, are the preserved part of George and Robert Stephenson’s historic engineering workshops. It was in these Victorian workshops that their famous locomotives, “Locomotion” and “Rocket”, were built. The careful brickwork of the building and the uniform windows with their many small panes create a pattern of lines and angles. The steel chimney provides a focal point as it climbs the wall, developing its own angles as it goes. The fencing, ventilation grating and signage add further lines and angles to the scene.
The iconic arches of the Tyne Bridge span the river, linking Newcastle and Gateshead. This detail shot shows the lower stretch of the arch on Newcastle’s Quayside, as the steel structure dips below the road level. The Tyne Bridge design incorporates many lines and angles.
With Circles and Curves as this week’s theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, I decided to share some of my images of Tyneside’s famous curved landmarks – from ancient to modern.
This Norman castle keep was built in 1178 on the site of the original wooden ‘New Castle’ built by William the Conqueror’s son, Robert Curthose, in 1080.
Along just a short stretch of the River Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead there are no less than seven bridges crossing the river! You can see four of them in this picture.
With its curved steel arches, the iconic Tyne Bridge is often used as the symbol of Tyneside. This bridge opened in 1928 and was much needed at the time for the increased road traffic between Newcastle and Gateshead.
The Swing Bridge, can turn 90 degrees on a central pivot to open for larger ships to pass upriver. It was designed by the Victorian engineer and inventor, William Armstrong, to allow ships to reach his engineering works. This bridge is built on the site of the original river crossing point. The Roman bridge, Pons Aelius, was the original starting point of Hadrian’s Wall – Pons Aelius translates as ‘Hadrian’s Bridge’.
Opened in 1849, the High Level Bridge and is another piece of Victorian engineering, designed by the famous railway engineer, Robert Stephenson. This double-decker bridge carries the railway on its upper deck and the road on the lower deck.
The Queen Elizabeth II Tyneside Metro Bridge opened in 1981 and carries the region’s light railway over the River Tyne on its journeys through Gateshead to South Shields and Sunderland.
The award-winning Gateshead Millenium Bridge is the newest bridge across the Tyne. This bridge can be opened by a tilting mechanism to allow river traffic through.
The Sage, Gateshead (as it is known) was designed by Lord Foster. The curved steel and glass structure enhances acoustics for this world class music venue.
… and in case you are wondering, yes, they do clean all of those windows! … by abseiling down the outside!