This film is part of Free

Love in at Handyside Arcade

The summer of love hits Newcastle as local youth take in the incense infused air and sport afghans while listening to Bryan Ferry’s first band.

Documentary 1967 5 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


A much loved centre for all things hippy and alternative in Tyneside in its heyday, showing that the counter culture movement wasn’t confined to London and Haight-Ashbury. Mingling among the fashion shops, with posters of Dylan and Twiggy, the “with it” “hang out”, listening to local band The Gas Board, with Mike Figgis. The legendary owner of the Kard Bar, Brian Sandells, explains the no drugs policy, while another interviewee clearly inspired Steve Coogan.

Tyne Tees Television gave us this wonderful portrait of the Handyside Arcade which became famous for being all things alternative, punk as well as hippy, right up until its, much contested, closure in 1987. Just before this event, in March, a bit further along Percy Street at the Club A Go Go, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was supporting Alex Harvey. Among the splendid shops – “Paraphernalia”, “Fig Leaf”, “Target” and “Scene” – was one owned by Animals drummer John Steel. Brian Sandells’ music and memorabilia shop sold 3,000 posters a week, and despite his anti-drug stance, was ordered by the police to stop selling legal highs. An early supporter of Pink Floyd, Sandells died in a fire at his fourth shop in 2015.