This film is part of Free

Byker Song

Two musicians lament the changes taking place as part of the Byker Estate re-development in Newcastle.

News 1974 2 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


By 1974, when this Tyne Tees Television news report was transmitted, the redevelopment of the Byker area of Newcastle was well underway. While it is true that the need for improved housing was necessary, the sense of loss for the close knit working class community was deeply felt. These performers sing a plaintive elegy as the film captures the local area, and in particular the Shields Road, at the very the heart of Byker.

Beginning in 1967, the redevelopment of the Byker estate formed part of what notorious Newcastle council leader T. Dan Smith dreamt of as a ‘Brasilia of the North’. Writing in 1963, city-planning officer, Wilfred Burns reveals plans for the whole of the city, including Byker, which saw the up-rooting of traditional Victorian working-class communities as a good thing ‘when we are dealing with people who have no initiative or social pride’. The two musicians featured in this news report were not the only people recording these changes. Arriving in 1969, Finnish photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttien also captured the area through photographs that are as poignant today as they were when they were first taken.