Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

House of Ill Repute

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

House of Ill Repute

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Bradbury

No tears will be shed when crews move in to knock down Westgate House, the 12-storey building, regularly voted one of the ugliest in Newcastle.

Fittingly, the final curtain for this concrete monstrosity perched on ugly stilts, near the Central Station, came yesterday, Friday the 13th, when Newcastle City Council's development control committee was sitting to decide its fate.

Over the years North East folk have listened to various announcements that the former office block, which straddles Westgate Road, in the heart of Newcastle, was on the verge of being demolished. But each time it came to nothing.

Permission for the extension to the Norwich Union building was granted in February 1972. And even then it brought howls of protest.

And it's no surprise. As our photograph, taken in 1948 shows, the street was all the better without the monstrosity.

Just a month after permission for the building was granted SOCEM ( Save Our City From Environmental Mess ( had mobilised its forces in a bid to defeat the plans.

But as we all know, they failed, despite collecting more than 5,000 signatures to keep the nearby Douglas Hotel site open.

More recently, in 1998, even business voices were calling for Westgate House to go ( for the sake of Newcastle's international reputation. And architectural guru, Nikolaus Pesvner, branded it: "One of the most intrusive and cold buildings within Newcastle."

It then earned its place on a hit list of proposals that the Grainger Town Partnership submitted to English Partnerships, in the hope of securing financial and moral support.

Back then, GTP director, Chris Oldershaw, said: "It's great to see the doors of the old Union Club in Westgate Road about to reopen. Then you see next door this 12-storey block completely out of character with other buildings there. …

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