This photograph was taken less than 50 years ago, but much that was once there is now gone.
The River Tyne might still flow as it has done through the ages, but the dark, old factories on the Newcastle side of the river have largely vanished, as has St Cuthbert’s Village.
The Gateshead housing estate was newly-built on the steep North-facing incline of Windmill Hills overlooking the Tyne.
It replaced Victorian-era streets – with names like Hood Street, Robert Street and Mary Street – that straddled Askew Road, and by the 1960s were deemed as slums and earmarked for demolition.
In the event, St Cuthbert’s Village would have a far shorter lifespan than the sloping 19th century terraces it replaced.
Our striking photograph was kindly supplied by John Matthews of the Northumberland and Newcastle Society.
He said of the picture: “This is St Cuthbert’s Village in 1970 with the old Redheugh Bridge in the background.
“I worked for the main contractor, Stanley Miller. The client was Gateshead Corporation and this was one of many high-rise developments Stanley Miller built for both Gateshead and Newcastle councils.
“Many have stood the test of time and still stand, albeit with modernisation and some re-cladding, such as Harlow Green, Allerdene, Beacon Lough, Regent Court in Gateshead – and Jesmond Vale and Shieldfield in Newcastle.
“Many were built using the MWM system of construction which stands for Miller Wise Mouchel – Douglas Wise being the architect and LG Mouchel the structural engineer.”
John added: “The contract comprised 39 blocks ranging from four to eight storeys, and one 17-storey tower block which still stands today.
“The 17-storey block plan-form was an adaptation of that used on other Stanley Miller high-rise developments.
“The project’s starting date was July 1967 and St Cuthbert’s was officially opened by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson on April 17, 1970.
“Mr Wilson was presented with an engraved silver Lindisfarne tankard by the Chairman of Stanley Miller, Mr Ernest Bell, along with a bound copy of Scott Dobson’s ‘Larn Yersel Geordie’. There was also a reception held at Gateshead’s Shipley Art Gallery.”
The cost of the project was £3.5m, and 3,500 Gateshead folk would be housed. But problems arose quickly.
By the 1980s, St Cuthbert’s had a reputation as a location rife with anti-social behaviour and deprivation, while the flats themselves were often worse for wear by then.
In 1995, the last of the 470 flats was demolished, although the tower block, St Cuthbert’s Court, remains today.
Modern Persimmon homes now occupy the land where St Cuthbert’s Village once stood.
The old Redheugh Bridge, opened in 1907, was well past its sell-by date come the 1970s. A new bridge was officially opened by Princess Diana in May 1983.
Source : Chroniclelive