Newcastle Civic Centre

George Kenyon and Newcastle City Architects

The building is formed in four wings flanking a central cloister or garth and constructed in equal stages stage, the four-storey office block fronting St. Mary’s Place and the adjacent Rates Hall were constructed between May of 1958 and June 1959 by which time permission had been granted for the twelve-storey administrative block and underground car park. This northern block was completed in 1963. Arguably the most successful phase of the construction and last to be completed was the Council and Members accommodation and cylindrical Council Chamber which overhangs the ceremonial entrance to the Centre.

To the north is the Banqueting Hall with its majestic interior of cut stone and encrusted crests mounted on the ribs of the ceiling, to the south are the Committee Rooms and Member’s wing supported above a vaulted undercroft. In this part of the centre the lavishness of materials and expense is immediately apparent. The Council Chamber itself is lined with sculpted Cedar of Lebanon panels with green Swedish slate on the floor in front of the Lord Mayor’s Dias. More than forty different types of marble were used throughout the building; for walls, floors, door frames and skirtings.

The building integrates a various artworks and owing the patronage of such artwork to Council Leader T. Dan Smith as a sort of “democratic art gallery”. The work varies from mythological characters to modern abstract art including large murals by artist Victor Pasmore in the Rates Hall, woven tapestries by John Piper in the banqueting hall, glass etchings by artist John Hutton at the ground floor of the Grand Stair Hall and perhaps most famous though is the Tyne God. The giant bronze statue by artist David Wynne, guards over the ceremonial entrance to the building, water pouring from his raised hand symbolising the significance of the Tyne in local culture.

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Images 1-7 Copyright of Newcastle Libraries
Image 8 – Copyright of Authors
Image 9 Copyright of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
Images 10-12 Copyright of Authors (Model by Northumbria University)
Images 13-14 Copyright of Authors (Model by Students of Northumbria University)