I was on Tyneside last week , meeting old friends and reacquainting myself with the past, it was a interesting journey , in more ways than one !
Although I have not lived in Newcastle for almost twenty years I still think of this place as “Home “ and have a deep connection with this city . The place is buzzing with activity and is definitely on the up , I was delighted to see how the Ouseburn area, under Byker Bridge had reinvented itself and become a leisure and cultural hub, with The Cluny Warehouse taking centre stage..
Although I was impressed by the “New” Tyneside I was more interested in reacquainting myself with the past, My past ! to be more precise .
I revisited the site of my old school (demolished) , the house I grew up in and Wallsend the area around the former Swan Hunters Shipyard , this really was a trip down memory lane.
I’m not quite sure what I was trying to achieve by this exploration of my past , but the memories came flooding back, ignited by places and faces that were no longer there ! Looking back, I think my reflective thoughts were motivated more by a need to reconnect , rather than develop or invent a new narrative or understanding of my relationship with this place. Inevitably I found myself on the familiar locations that feature in some of Chris Killips photographs…, how things change. !
The view from the former Gainers Terrace (below) , overlooking the former Swan Hunters shipbuilding yard .This is also the place where The Ship In The Hole once stood..Those of you familiar with the work of Killip will find these 2019 views especially interesting. (See previous blog to view Gainers Terrace “Before” by Killip)
The disappearing shipbuilding artifacts here have given way to displays of Wallsends rich Roman history, Wallsend was the eastern limit of Hadrians Wall ( The Walls End ) , ironically the rise and fall of the Roman Empire appears to be the story of this place now, strange to see how ancient history and tourism is valued more than the industrial heritage that existed here in my lifetime .
The disappearance of the established, dominant shipbuilding skyline, underlines the importance of photography as a tool for recording our social and cultural history, nothing is forever , as photographers we really should value and record the people & places of our “everyday” more, one day they won’t be there .
I’m less worried than I used to be about the future of this place , the seeds of new Green industries appear to be sprouting up all over the banks of the river , the open space in the pictures above might become the home & catalyst of Tyneside’s next great industrial revolution ?
Until next time ….