The site of St James’s Park has been used for football as early as 1860 and the home of Newcastle United Football Club since 1892. The site is bounded by Leazes Park and the Georgian Leazes Terrace (designed in 1830 by Thomas Oliver and built by Richard Grainger). Plans to build a new stadium in the 1960s began a protracted period of over a decade with attempts in 1968 to even move the stadium to Gosforth.
In 1971, Faulkner-Brown Hendy Watkinson Stonor were invited to break the deadlock between the Club and the City by preparing a masterplan for phased development of the ground beginning with the East Stand. The 1971 Ibrox disaster when 66 spectators had been crushed to death and 200 injured, brought crowd safety to the forefront of stadia design and the designers employed a layout whereby spectators where contained in small sections of the large extension.
The new East stand takes the form of huge insitu concrete frame cast from a intricate striated form work. Often misconstrued as ‘brutalist’, the expressed concrete design form embodies none of the socialist ethics (unlike Trinity Square or the Dunston Rocket). Instead the frame provides a textured contrast at street level to the elegant sandstone of the surround Georgian terraces. Indeed the east stand attempts to limit the perimeter height at this level cantilevering the upper parts of the structure above.
Today, the stadium dwarfs the surrounding area and has undergone numerous extensions making it probably the most prominent structure in the city.
All image copyright of FaulknerBrown Architects