Gateshead Highway

Like so many northern towns, in the 1960s Gateshead was suffering a decline in its traditional sources of employment and its cityscape of smoke-stained Victorian buildings was considered outdated. It chose to do what many similar towns did: regenerate, quickly and in concrete.

It built multi-storey car parks, office blocks, council estates; it swept aside streets in favour of tower blocks on open grassy lawns. And, of course, it built the Gateshead Highway, an elevated road that was meant to be the first stage in its contribution to the urban motorway network planned across the whole of Tyneside.

The Highway was the only bit that Gateshead ever really finished, and on its own it never really worked very well. Today, there are plans afoot to sweep it away, open up the space underneath to see the sky, and create a new tree-lined route described as "Gateshead Boulevard" in its place.

Now that the days of this unloved viaduct are numbered, here are some pictures of it taken back in 2006, on an exceptionally sunny day when even a grimy concrete flyover could look its best.

When the Highway opened it carried the A1, which was planned to run through the centre of both Newcastle and Gateshead. The Highway would have run on to a new crossing of the Tyne, then on to a new motorway running east of the existing Central Motorway in Newcastle. None of that ambitious plan ever happened.

We could hardly come to this part of the world without visiting the Tyne Bridge. Opened in 1928, it's still a spectacular structure today, carrying four narrow lanes of traffic at considerable speed across the river clear of shipping.

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