Summer Walk No 6, Ouseburn Circular Walk - Tuesday 12th July 2016.

     

The Ouseburn Valley was the location for Walk No 6 on the Morpeth Camera Club Summer Programme. At 7pm on
Tuesday 12th July 2016, the group left the Newcastle Quayside car park, climbed the steps to the Free Trade Inn on
St Lawrence Road and from this location images were taken of one of the best views of The River Tyne & its bridges.
Heading North over Walker Road, the old Ouseburn School with its decorative moulded brickwork and ornate pagoda
style turrets, was the first of several buildings of architectural merit to catch the eye during the evening. To the side
and rear of the old school is an area called Ballast Hills, where " ballast ", which could take the form of any freely
available material such as clay, rocks etc from ships on the Tyne was deposited. This formed a large mound that was
then used as a non-conformist burial ground from the early 17th century until 1853. The plague was the cause of
death for many of those interred and former headstones from this cemetery now provide a unique pathway across
" The Plaguey Field " as it is known locally.
Our route then took us down to the Ouseburn Barrage situated under the Glasshouse Bridge. The barrage was built in
2009 to retain water in the Ouseburn when the tide was out, creating a leisure and wildlife corridor that started the
regeneration of the valley. Taking the recently reopened footpath along the Ouseburn we had fine views of the old
Maynards Toffee Factory that is now a modern creative office and business centre opposite a new stepped housing
development that follows the contours of the valley on the East bank.
Several boats on the Ouseburn gave a touch of colour with some under restoration and repair on the Ouseburn slipway.
This once heavy industrial area has been transformed by innovative business and community ventures, Byker Farm now
occupies the site of the former lead works and we continued walking past one of the most unusual addresses on Tyneside,
1, Byker Pier, Ouseburn Riverside, a converted warehouse.

      

Three huge local landmarks of contrasting styles also span the valley. Byker Bridge, Byker Metro Bridge and the splendid
Ouseburn Viaduct. Opened in 1839 the viaduct is a grade two listed monument and carries the main East Coast railway
line and was designed by John and Benjamin Green who also designed the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.
Returning via Stepney Street, we headed down Stepney Bank on the west side of the valley. Members were finding many
subjects to photograph as we passed the famous Ship public house with its graffiti murals, past the Cluny Arts & music
venue and the Seven Stories National Centre for Children's Books on Lime Street.
From this side of the valley sections of the Byker Wall and the huge crane at Ward Scrap Metals could be seen on the
skyline. Stopping at the entrance to the Victoria Tunnel the history panels gave an insight as to what lies beneath our
feet and an idea of a possible future club visit. The group returned past the old Stenberg warehouses to The Tyne public
house where we we able to sit outside and enjoy refreshments after good evening of photography.
Davy Bolam.