Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

How Neglected 'Ugly Duckling' Turned into Swan House Complex

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

How Neglected 'Ugly Duckling' Turned into Swan House Complex

Article excerpt

STROLL around the magnificent streets of central Newcastle today - and we can largely thank two men for shaping one of Britain's finest city centres.

It was the 19th century visionaries Richard Grainger and John Dobson - builder and architect respectively - whose relentless drive transformed Newcastle in such a short space of time.

Both have streets named after them - and much of what they touched turned to gold. But there was one Grainger-Dobson project which so uncharacteristically would become a white elephant.

We return for another instalment of Tyneside Revealed where we uncover some of the interesting historical features that often go unnoticed in our region.

The Swan House complex - known these days as 55 degrees North - sits on the site of the nowvanished Royal Arcade.

By the dawn of the 1960s, some regarded the arcade as a down-atheel, little-used Victorian relic and ripe for bulldozing.

For others, its eventual demolition was an act of vandalism, depriving the city of an architectural gem.

The Royal Arcade was built in 1831 by Grainger and Dobson. It was constructed in a classical Greek style.

For The poet Sir John Betjeman, over 100 years later, described the arcade as "a highlight of classical town planning". It was also deemed to be one of the 36 most famous lost monuments in Britain.

demolition act of depriving of an Originally a Corn Exchange, it would soon become a home to shops, banks, offices, a post office, an auction room, and steam and vapour baths.

With its domes and stone columns, It was hailed as the finest example of its kind in the country.

But, over time, it was destined to become Grainger's least successful venture.

As Newcastle's retail trade continued to grow around the Grey's Monument area, many shoppers just didn't fancy traipsing down to the bottom of Pilgrim Street.

The Royal Arcade was considered for demolition as early as the 1880s, and that decision was finally rubber-stamped many decades later in the early 1960s after a long period of decline. …

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