The Elswick Works
Elswick in the West End of Newcastle was once home to Lord Arstrong’s Elswick works, a hub of industry in the Industrial Age. With the death of manufacturing during the 20th century, the inhabitants of this area of the city generally missed out on the increasing prosperity enjoyed by communities across England.
Low rents attracted new immigrants, at first from Ireland and later further afield, but housing conditions were poor and poverty persisted.
The late Tish Murtha grew up in Elswick. She was the third of 10 children of Irish descent. Despite studying at the Newport College of Art in South Wales, by 1980 she was back in Elswick on a job training scheme for the unemployed.
Picking up her camera in her spare time, she wandered around the neighbourhood taking pictures of the local community, capturing images of poorly dressed children playing in streets full of derelict and crumbling buildings.
The pictures have become iconic as a reminder of a shocking past that is far too recent for comfort.
The current generation of socially aware photographers will find plenty in Elswick to photograph today.
During the severe Austerity cuts, famous personalities living outside the region joined the middle class campaign to stop the city council cutting all arts funding. People in the west end protested that they would pay the price by having the cuts fall on their services instead.
And they were right. In the 1970s, Elswick Hall was demolished to build a large swimming pool and leisure centre. The facilities were closed in October 2015.
But happily, the local community worked hard to find a solution and funding. In February 2020, Elswick Community Pool and Leisure Centre opened as a community-run leisure centre.
Thanks to Newcastle Libraries for the image at the top of this page. It shows Bentinck Road School, Bentinck Road, Elswick. Unknown date, but around 1918.
Lord Armstrong’s Elswick Works (1900)
“This film is part of the Mitchell and Kenyon collection – an amazing visual record of everyday life in Britain at the beginning of the twentieth century.”BFI
Which Elswick Page would you like to see next?
- Lord Armstrong’s Elswick Works (1900)
- Vickers-Armstrongs (engineers) Ltd. (Tour)
- King And Queen In Newcastle (1941)
- Where Did Benwell Go! Part 1
- Part 2 Where Did Benwell Go! Buddle Road
- Noble Street Flats (1960s)
- Photos of Elswick & Scotswood Road (1968)
- Elswick Pictures (1972)
- Back Meldon Street (1972)
- The Elswick Self Portraits (1981)
- Tish Murtha (1980s)
- Elswick Kids by Tish Murtha (1980s)
- Tyneside Riots Elswick (1991)
- Snow in Elswick Park (2011)
- Snow in Elswick (2011)
- More Snow in Elswick (2011)
Or, find more locations on our Sitemap for England