Hanover Street
Copthorne through hole in old warehouse wall

Lower Saxony
Sun. 11th Aug., 2002

Hanover Street is named after the Royal House of that name. The German George I became ruler in 1714 after the death of Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts.

Parliament passed the
"Act of Settlement" in 1701 to not only allow this, but also decreeing that no Catholic should ever be ruler, and no foreigner should occupy a Government post.

The last Hanoverian was William IV who opposed votes for the people, but was forced to accept Earl Grey's Reform Bill of 1832. The
monument to this step towards enfranchisement stands today at the heart of Graingertown. In 1837 Victoria came to the throne and was forbidden by Hanoverian law to rule the two countries and she remained in Britain, taking the name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Bonded Warehouse No. 40

The steep hill runs up from the riverside at the junction of Close and Forth Banks to Westgate Road near the Castle.

This eastward view shows the smooth stones set in the road to allow the horses pulling carts up the hill an easier job. The wheels found less resistance than on the uneven cobbles.

The buildings along the right of this street were bonded warehouses. These were special repositories for materials and products on which Excise Duty was payable, but exempt for their stay in the warehouse. The principal wares stored were alcoholic spirits and tobacco products during their export import cycle.

The warehouses were numbered 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 from the top to the foot of the hill. Only 40 remains following demolition and fires.

Hanover Street is a steep hill
Loading hatch in Warehouse 40
Remaining wall of Warehouse 50

These warehouses were built between 1841 and 1844 by Amor Spoor who carried out his wealthy trade  until his death and it continued on beyond the centenary of these buildings. The warehouses were finally abandoned during the late 1970s and a forlorn "For Sale" notice has flapped for almost a generation on the lower range abutting Close at riverside level.

Houses 10 to 30 were demolished during the early 1980s and replaced with a terraced garden with pleasant walkways and steps down to the new Riverside development, spearheaded by the City council and designed by Terry Farrell.

The new plans included a large hotel with massive enclosed car park, a prestige office development, now the home of British Telecom since their move from the purpose built
Swan House, a riverside promenade, and the conversion of some mediŠval buildings into a restaurant and bar.

Warehouse 50 was severely fire damaged in the early 1990s and its carcass was beyond repair and demolished.

The future of the remaining warehouse must be in doubt as the surrounding development makes it an eyesore. I suspect that the conversion costs, say to city apartments, would be prohibitive and uneconomic.

Maybe some brave soul will find a commercial use for the building, other famous warehouses have been converted to housing and in one case a science museum.

This view from the site of Warehouse 50 shows the Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened in 1980 to carry the Metro Light Transit trains over the river. It was designed and built by A. Fairhurst & Partners. From the ground the bridge is unremarkable, but Metro passengers emerge from a subterranean tunnel onto a high and spectacular view of the riverside, before being thrust back into the tunnel.

The King Edward VII rail bridge lies beyond. It was opened in 1906, was designed by Charles Harrison, nephew of the main engineer of the High Level Bridge, and was built by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Co.

The new Redheugh bridge is just visible beyond that.

The eastern warehouses, numbers 10 to 30 were within the Town Walls and it was this boundary that suggested the earlier demolition and the council's construction of the terraced gardens.

Here, above Hanover Street, on the site of the old Whitefriars monastery, is the wall. This section stretches from the railway lines that cut through the Castle during the mid 19th century, to Hanover Street. From here the wall continued down the steep bank to the river. A set of steps were built into the wall and accurately called "Breakneck Stairs". Hanover Stairs were more friendly and lay to the east and passed through a tunnel in the warehouse complex.

Bridge veiw from Warehouse 50
Town Wall and Casino car park
Top wall - reused materials
Lower wall and Breakneck Stairs

The Town Wall was partially demolished at this point of Hanover street during the 1770s and some stones were later incorporated into this side wall.

Seen from Close below the line of the old wall is visible. This was entirely covered by the warehouses.

Close, the street at the bottom the picture, is so called because of the closed in aspect of this thoroughfare, with tall warehouses on both sides, and loading winches swinging packages aloft. Some people incorrectly call it "The Close", but it never had the definite article in the name.

This view looking west along Close shows the remaining Warehouse 40 and the wall remnants and Breakneck Stairs.

That white sided building marks the junction with Forth Banks running right and Skinner Burn Road straight ahead.

The massive Copthorne Hotel lies to the left and forms a sort of comfy warehouse for people.

Close looking west
Loading hatches

The remaining warehouse can evoke the busy Victorian time of it heyday.

The only visitors today are the birds who make it their home. Those massive wooden identity numbers were originally painted bright green

A peek inside the open hatches reveals some of the internal structure. Some of the offices and the position of the light fitting shows that the beams were always exposed.

This may be the last glimpse of a Tyneside landmark. It is not in the same league as the Baltic or Co-op building now resplendent in their new use.

The view below, from the top of Hanover Stairs, shows the new office development home to British Telecom. Cranes in Gateshead show the site of the Half Moon Lane development.

Hanover Street may once again ring with commercial activity, but I fear not with the existing building. Is this blackened hulk worth saving? No delay was considered when just metres away a new casino replaced old warehouses.

New home for British Telecom

Click here to see high quality album copies of these and other photographs from the same shoot

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