A top view

Earl's Aloft
Sat. 10th April, 2004

As I sauntered vacantly through the centre I noticed that an old Saturday morning facility was back. For a small fee visitors can ascend the 162 steps inside Grey's Monument and gaze down at the waking city below.

It was too good an opportunity to pass up and I paid my pound then huffed and puffed to the viewing platform, 41.5 metres (135ft) above ground. For those not familiar with Newcastle a City Guide was on hand to point out centres of interest and fill in some historical detail.

Grey's Monument has been closed for about fifteen years, only being available by special appointment.

The sky was dull and cold (Bank Holiday weather again!) but I took these photos so you can share the view.

Grey's Monument and pedestrians
Earl Grey on his Corinthian Column
Grainger Street from the top

The Doric column was erected between 1837 and 1838 to commemorate the passing of Prime Minister Earl Grey's Great Reform Bill of 1832. The new law made Parliament more accountable and paved the way for universal suffrage.

During the 1830s Richard Grainger, planner and speculative builder, John Dobson, architect, and John Clayton, Town Clerk, embarked on the wholesale renewal of the centre of Newcastle. They swept away the rambling and dilapidated 16th century Anderson Place and grounds, creating grand new streets and imposing buildings.

At first the site of Grey's Monument was called Seven Dials Circus, and Grainger wanted his new Law Courts to occupy this place, but Dobson disagreed and the monument, designed by Benjamin Green, won a Town Commission competition.

The Earl's statue is by Edward Hodges Baily, and his bonce was knocked off by lightning one stormy night during the Second World War. During 1947 local artist Roger Hedley made a new head; my
previous Grey's Monument page shows more.

From the top I had commanding views of Grainger Street, left, and Grey Street, below, and I was able to create a
panorama, although as I did not have a tripod a bit of guesswork was needed in places.

Click for a panorama - please be patient for download

Grey Stret from the top

Benjamin Simpson's 1903 Emerson Chambers looks fine from the top. This explosion of motifs and turrets is a contrast with Dobson's plain style and ashlar constructions.

This was the last of Simpson's architectural flourishes. The intervention of the Great War of 1914-18 heralded a new era of functionality and frugality of design. The world was almost bankrupt after the senseless slaughter.

New Eldon Square shopping precinct is visible all around, and the blank section along the south of Blackett Street is due for further development.

Below one corner of Grainger's 1837
Exchange Buildings and the 1980 entrance to Monument Metro underground Station contrast in function and design.

Emerson Chambers from the top
Pedestrians from the top
Byker from top of Grey's Monument

Another recent development, Byker Wall, is visible from the top of Grey's Monument. The new Metro bridge snakes across the steep Ouse Burn valley and skirts the southern edge of Byker centre where the Wall's small windows keep out the noise and cold.

The City has provided some well crafted street furniture since the final phase of pedestrianisation of this area. The awful motor car has been banished and people can now enjoy Grainger and Dobson's grand frontages and city vistas without fear of being knocked to the ground by the snorting mechanical monsters.

Click for a panorama - please be patient for download

Seat in the Grey's Monument Place

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

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