Gateshead, England: History in Old Images

Closeup of an old photo of Gateshead's High Street in 1910

Glimpse history through old images of Gateshead, on the southern banks of the River Tyne, in North East England.

High Street 1910

This is a photo of the High Street back in 1910. I’ve added two closeups, so some of the details are easier to see.

History in Pictures

In 2015, St Mary’s Heritage Centre hosted an exhibition of historic pcitures from Gateshead Council’s photographic archive. This trailer showcases some of the fascinating images that were on display.

Gateshead’s Heritage: A History in Pictures Exhibition – British Pathé on YouTube

Many of the archive newsreels embedded on this page were listed on YouTube back in 2014, and had received very few views in their first eight years. It was finding these unexpected gems that first prompted me to set up Local History Videos to showcase precious, overlooked archive films.

Physical Education 1926

In 1926, boys of the Gateshead Schools’ Sports Association took part in a mass physical exercises display.

Mass Physical Education (1926) – British Pathé on YouTube

Carnival 1927

It’s a shame the filmmaker didn’t raise the camera higher for us to see more of the surrounding buildings, but this is good quality silent footage of hundreds of people coming out to enjoy Gateshead’s first Carnival in 1927.

Fun And Frolic At Gateshead’s First Carnival (1927) – British Pathé on YouTube

Gas Explosion! 1933

In 1933, a terrible gas explosition occured when a steam driven pick was working near gas pipes and electric cables. It probably hit a main. The explosition was so loud, the roar was heard for miles around.

Many local homes collapsed, with the occupants trapped or killed inside.

Six people died, and a further 17 were injured.

William Devonport was 67 years old. Trapped beneath a beam, he used his shoulders to hold the weight, shielding his baby grandson. The rescuers released William an hour later. He then stagggered outside, still holding the infant, but a few minutes later succumbed to his injuries.

The consciously post-war title of the newsreel for this tragic footage is revealing, 15 years after the end of the First World War.

I also noticed that the subtitles have great difficulty understanding the presenter’s 1930s RP accent. He sounds far too jolly for an incident which was absolutely devastating for the community and all the families and rescuers involved.

Peace Hath Her Heroes No Less Renowned Than War (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube

Lorry Crash 1933

At 2am one night in 1933, a large lorry careered downhill for a mile and crashed into the Barclays Bank.

No one was hurt, not even the driver behind the wheel or the bank manager living upstairs from the bank.

But the lorry did damage traffic signals, two tram standards, one lamp post, a lot of railings, and just missed a monument.

You can see the adverts for St.Ivel Ice Cream and Australian sultanas and butter on the side of the lorry.

Luck! (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube

Gateshead School 1944

It’s such a shame that this newsreel from 1944, filmed during the Second World War, doesn’t tell us which school was visited!

Some of the children are six years old. So presumably the children on screen were born around 1938 or in the couple of years before.

Nor does it show us much of the school beyond this one activity area. But perhaps someone will recognise a relative.

The coins used were borrowed from the school’s milk money.

Luck! (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube

QE Opens the QE 1948

In 1948, Queen Elizabeth – the wife of King George VI, who later became the widowed Queen Mother – came to open Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The film opens with the Tyne Bridge, and waving spectators, before arrival at a very different looking QE Hospital layout than the one we see today.

The Queen is dressed in furs. She visits a maternity unit. One new mother sits in bed dressed up in a smart hat, but somehow the Queen manages to ignore her despite standing right next to the bed.

Queen Opens Queen Elizabeth Hospital (1948) – British Pathé on YouTube

Gateshead College 1955

In 1955, the Duke of Ediburgh arrived at Darlington Station.

He was greeted by Jack Lawson, a miner and trade unionist who was MP for Chester-le-Street, had been part of Clement Atlee’s post-war cabinet as Secretary of State for War, and by 1949 was Lord Lieutenant of Durham.

Jack later became Lord Lawson of Beamish, and the secondary school in Birtley is named after him.

The Duke and official party then visited a girl’s school at Darlington, before the Duke flew a helicopter to Gateshead.

There he opened the newly built technical college, “one of the finest in the country and puts Gateshead at the forefront of educational development.”

We see the exterior of the site. No giant CCTV warning signs back then – remember those on the old Gateshead College site next to Saltwell Park?

The Duke then visits the Sheet Metal Workshop, and and talks to students undertaking various practical tasks for the visitors.

It’s a newsreel very steeped in hope for the future.

In 2008, the site was closed, later to be demolished for flats.

Luck! (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube

Gateshead’s Buses

These are trailers for DVDs available for purchase from PMP Films, who offer more than 1500 titles in their collection of transport related videos.

While the filmmakers were most interested in the buses, you see lots of the streets and buildings in the background. You’ll see the famous Get Carter car park, the bus station at the Interchange Centre, Gateshead Civic Centre, the town centre shops etc. Plus, there are many pedestrians if you want to try spoting someone you know.

Post Deregulation:

Bus services outside London were deregulated in 1986. This video was made sometime in that era.


From 1992:

GATESHEAD BUSES 1992 – British Pathé on YouTube

From 1993:

GATESHEAD BUSES 1993 – British Pathé on YouTube

From November 1996:

GATESHEAD BUSES NOV 1996 – British Pathé on YouTube

From February 1998:

GATESHEAD BUSES FEN 1998 – British Pathé on YouTube

From January 2001:

GATESHEAD BUSES JANUARY 2001 – British Pathé on YouTube

From July 2002:

The sunshine brought out a lot of people, including a few the filmmaker would have preferred to stay at home.

GATESHEAD BUSES JULY 2002 – British Pathé on YouTube

From April 2011:

Featuring the new Gateshead Interchange frontage.

GATESHEAD BUSES APRIL 2011 – British Pathé on YouTube

The Post Office Directory of Durham and Northumberland

by Kelly and Company

Published in 1879

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