Bid to Build Up a Wall of Memories

Article excerpt

Byline: By Ray Marshall

More than 20 years since its completion, Byker Wall, an in-town village, still inspires controversy.

Designed by Swedish architect Ralph Erskine, who made a point of talking to the future residents before coming up with his finished design, it consists of 620 maisonettes on an estate containing 2,000 properties, designed as five interlinking communities.

Its bright colours and use of timber show strong Scandinavian influences and it was the main part of an ambitious slum clearance project that began in 1969 and was finally completed in 1982.

The winner of many international awards, it became a Grade II listed building in 2003.

Architects came from all over the world to see the Byker Wall, which also came in for a lot of criticism.

But before the wall, Byker was classed as one of the most deprived inner-city areas in Britain with its back-to-back housing.

Yet among all this is a rich community which the Byker Wall has helped to preserve and now a new society is hoping to create a newsletter which will record the story of Byker through its residents' memories and photographs of life before and after "the wall".

Barbara Douglas from The Quality of Life Partnership said: "It is fantastic to see older people being encouraged to share their memories and photographs ( and it is important for them to be involved in shaping the community they live in. …