South Shields Daily Photo

A collection of images from South Shields and the North of England

Central Arcade

with 5 comments

Central Arcade, Newcastle

Victorian decadence in Newcastle

The Central Arcade in Newcastle upon Tyne links Grey Street to Market Street and Grainger Street in what must have been amongst the most opulent and indulging experiences of  the Edwardian era on Tyneside, a place where the slightly more wealthy could enjoy their shopping experience under cover and dry whenever it was raining.

This triple domed edifice fills its triangular site, each dome is crowned by a bunch of monstrous bronze feathers. The Central Arcade has frontages on Grainger Street, Grey Street and Market Street, all dating from c1840 designed for Richard Grainger, probably by John Wardle. Exchange Buildings was originally designed as a commercial exchange and newsroom but in 1869 the exchange was converted into an art gallery. After a devastating fire it was rebuilt in 1906 and the Central Arcade was opened with entrances on all three sides of the triangle. Below the glass barrel-vaulted roof all is glistening Burmantofts ceramics in shades of browns, buffs and yellows: huge panels, little niches, grotesque animal heads and elegant lettering abound.

The level of detail in the ceramic decoration is quite amazing, as is the longevity of it’s oldest trader J.G. Windows, when I was a teenager I’d often take the train up here with friends just so we could hunt down obscure records (vinyl LPs) or sheet music for those who knew what to do with it. The shop still retains it’s quaint charm and is probably the best place in Newcastle to find the musical instrument of your choice.

Just another little treasure found during our day away from South Shields, if you appreciate Newcastle please take a couple of minutes to visit their Daily Photo Site.

Camera details: Pentax K100D, 35 mm lens, 1/90 second, f7.1, iso 400


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Written by curly

March 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

5 Responses

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  1. Decadence?

    A process, condition, or period of deterioration or decline, as in morals or art; decay.

    I think not.

    I worked in the offices of the Admiralty loacted above the shops opposite windows. The interior was nearly as good as the exterior.

    Mrs K

    March 15, 2009 at 11:04 am

  2. Yes, I think “opulent” is a far better choice of word.


    March 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm

  3. Hi Curly,

    Beautiful isn’t it?

    I came across your site via the Newcastle Daily Photo site. Keep up the good work; I’m from Newcastle but now live in South Tyneside (Hebburn) – so I need to keep an eye on both sites!


    March 15, 2009 at 6:52 pm

  4. I will settle for ‘opulent’ anyday.

    I have so many memories of South Shields (which was a twice a year treat – it had too many amusements for Mam’s purse) so Marsden with one ice cream shop which also filled your teapot with hot water for a penny, was the regular beach visit.

    Keep posting.

    Mrs K

    March 16, 2009 at 11:16 am

  5. The central arcade always amazes me. It’s easily missed when you’re walking past, and so beautiful when you go in.


    March 20, 2009 at 9:52 am

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