The high-rise flats in Shieldfield, Newcastle, that opened to replace slums 60 years ago

Sixty years ago the Evening Chronicle ran an advert on its pages.

Under the headline ‘The North East Is Growing Up’ was an image of the three new high-rise tower blocks that had simply opened in Shieldfield in Newcastle’s East End.

It was April 1961 and the start of a decade in which phrases similar to ‘cities in the sky’ and ‘Brasilia of the North’ could be used to describe a daring new imaginative and prescient for post-war Newcastle.

The progressive concepts of the town council’s Labour chief T Dan Smith and his chief planning officer Wilf Burns would see lots of Newcastle’s old run-down terraced streets bulldozed and changed by new housing replete with all mod cons.

High-rise flats emerged throughout the town on the likes of Shieldfield, Heaton Park and Cruddas Park, reworking the skyline.

In 1958, Yorkshire Street, (*60*) Street and Kent Street in Shieldfield had been demolished to make method for the three 15-storey blocks which might home 270 households.

The new flats opened in April 1961. They have been described as ‘symbols of hope’ by the Chronicle, which carried a characteristic highlighting the very fact that lots of the old properties “have been unfit, by fashionable enlightened requirements, for human occupation”.

These Victorian-built, two-up, two-down properties have been tenements and the upstairs residents usually had to go downstairs to share one chilly water faucet and outdoors to the WC in the yard.

In one two-roomed property the place a married couple in their early 80s lived, “the partitions have been inexperienced with mould, plaster and paint have been cracked and peeling, the door main to the road hung damaged on its hinges, and the steps have been prepared to give method. The odor was nasty. This was a slum. The individuals are slum-dwellers – however they aren’t ‘slummy’.”

Indeed in 1961, Newcastle Central MP Ted Short advised the House of Commons how 2,961 homes in the town had no inner water provide, 16,000 had no sizzling water, and an analogous quantity had no inside rest room.

The high-rise blocks in Shieldfield, Newcastle, 2021

The well-appointed new flats would profit from all-gas home equipment which for round two shillings, two pence a day (round 11p in as we speak’s cash) would cowl heating, cooking and sizzling water.

Each property would have a kitchen with a ‘Queenline’ cooker, ‘Dean R9’ wash boiler, a ‘Clifford’ garments dryer and house for a fridge. And in the lounge there could be a gasoline hearth of “good-looking modern design”.

The fashionable high-rises similar to these at Shieldfield, declared the Chronicle, would assist finish distress and turn into symbols of hope for lots of of households.

And as one new resident, Mrs Anne Knight, advised our reporter in 1961: “It’s like a palace while you’ve lived in a spot like we got here from.”

Sixty years later, the flats stay a Newcastle landmark that may be seen for miles round.

Don’t miss our Memory Lane native historical past web site that’s full of archive pictures and has an easy-to-use image colourisation instrument.

supply: past/high-rise-flats-shieldfield-newcastle-20468650


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