Friday, March 31, 2006

The lost Geordie seventh wonder of the world...

Google Earth is an amazing thing. I can spend hours looking at satellite views of places I have been to before (or would like to visit) all over the world, some tantalisingly indistinct, others sharp enough to see pedestrians.

Sometimes the pictures surprise- buildings demolished years ago are still visible due to the satallite mapping being out of date.

A saunter to 55 deg 0' 22.60" N 1 deg 39' 53.28W brings you to what looks like a garden feature in a Council Estate I lived in when I was aged 10 or so. It was the Kenton Bar Estate in Newcastle and a saunter to the co-ordinates shown shows the primary school to the South (which I attended for about 9 months), some flat roof single storey flats to the East (looking rather like Lego shapes) and two blocks of low rise flats at right angles, one to the North and the other to the West with a bit of a gap between them.

This area was designated as a sort of modern Town Square and shops were built under the Western Block. To the left of the parade was a coin-op Launderette which had all brand new Bendix machines and, innovative for the time, a Dry Cleaning machine. In the centre was a Newsagent, called North kenton News (which was a misnomer as North Kenton was thought of as the older and much scrattier estate adjoining to the North East). There was an Off License, Goldfinch Wines, which my Parents later had as tenants for a couple of years. There were also two vacant shops seperating the three open ones and I seem to recall that when we first moved there in late 1968 only the Offy was open.

There were intended to be shops below the other block of flats but they were never constructed so there was clear space below apart from the stair wells. The square was on two distinct levels joined by a ramp and stairs either side of a water feature. I visited the square a number of years ago and was surprised to find it had been tapered to a slope (as it is on the Google Earth view) and I'm pretty sure the path running at right angles to the Western block is the vestigial remains of the ramp as there are some low level light fittings I recognised. The vestigial wall at the left hand end of the Northern Block gives an indication of the height differential with must have been 10' or so.

There is a very prominent feature removed from this 60's socialist eutopia square that fascinated me as a kid, both aesthetically and technically. It would be interesting to find out why it was built in the first place and eventually removed at what must have been a considerable expense. Anyway, I will blog on what was missing after a suitable pause for comment and speculation from all three of my readers.

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