As the mid-nineteenth century approached, Newcastle’s city center balance shifted away from the river up the hill to the rapidly expanding Victorian town.
In just a few years, builders, businessmen and architects such as Richard Grainger, John Dobson and Thomas Oliver have fashioned the greatest designed Victorian Town in England, using classical facades of stone paving the way for wonderful new streets, one of the most notable being Grey Street which was described as ‘that descending, subtle curve’ by John Betjreman.
The name Grey Street comes from the Northumberland dynasty of political heavyweights, one of the most memorable members would be Earl Grey (he also has a tea named after him), the prime minister during 1830 – 1834. During his run as prime minister, he carried the Reform Bill through parliament, this act was commemorated by Grey’s Monument which sits at the top of the street.
Still today, Grey Street holds onto much of its Victorian elegance and beauty. The best example of this is the Theatre Royal which stands halfway down the street.
Other streets around the area ended up making way for more modern housing in the 1960s and 1970s as the population was increasing.
Eldon Square was once a classic example of Victorian balance, is now a shopping center. Not all was lost in the rebuild as Grainger Market (Monday – Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm) near Grey’s Monument is Europe’s largest undercover marketplace. Built way back in the 1830s, it still maintains its style and boasts the chirpy sounds of an outdoor market.
Behind Gallowgate lies the most complete stretch of the old city walls that lead all the way down to Westgate Road, these walls once encircled the whole of medieval Newcastle and they were later savaged after the sixteenth century for building stones to build new buildings from.
Several towers still remain standing today, such as Morden Tower which sits on Stowell Street, the same street that Newcastle’s Chinatown is present with many supermarkets and restaurants.
Across the street from the Morden Tower is the tranquil courtyard of Blackfriars, a thirteenth-century stone monastery.