Monday, January 10, 2011

Shields Road Byker

Shields Road in Byker sweeps up hill from the impressive Road Bridge over the Lower Ouseburn. The bridge has featured before in these blog pages if only as a platform from which I could photograph the valley far below. The Ouseburn cuts sharply through sandstone to reach the Tyne, creating what was once perhaps an impressive gorge rather than valley, dividing the city into east and west. To the east Byker atop its own hill has seemed almost a town inside a city, distinct and, until the dreaded 70s, untouched.

More on Byker then, another day.

Recently, I wandered up this steeper than it looks road after a heavy snow fall, photographing what remains of some impressive 19th and early 20th century architecture. Equally impressive has been the late drive to maintain and renovate these fine buildings whenever possible. Shields Road thrives for some reason, despite the main shopping centre of Eldon Square and Northumberland Street being but a short bus ride over the bridge. Shields Road is an example of 'native loyalty' in action then, that and an instinct for a bargain! Renovation of the main road to assist pedestrians and some improvements to local facilities have helped restore commercial confidence.

Shields Road however demonstrates a melancholy fact: Newcastle over the gorge to the west might have also been restored and renovated instead of being swept away by demolition lorries during the architecturally deadening 60s and 70s 'boom years'. I present this slide show as proof that a sense of place and a feeling for community can and does work.

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