This film is part of Free

Simpson's Hotel

A simple home for the homeless under threat. The Simpson’s Hotel in Wallsend is down but not yet out.

News 1974 2 mins

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Logo for North East Film Archive


The Simpson’s Hotel on Buddle Street in Wallsend had seen better days. So had the men who were seeking shelter there in the 1970s. Amidst rumours of its closure, Tyne Tees TV reporter Charlotte Allen visits the lodging house, which 218 homeless men still call home for a rent of £3.77 a week. Here they find companionship with other long-term residents suffering from the misfortunes of unemployment or poverty in old age. The Simpson’s Hotel did not survive the 1980s.

Built in 1912 by Simpson, Boyd and Hunter, the building had a pivotal role in working-class history, first as simple accommodation for seamen whose ships were under repair on the Tyne, and for transient workers at shipyards such as Swan Hunters. During the First World War, soldiers of the Tyneside Scottish Brigade were billeted there. Simpson’s hotels were also built in Hebburn and Glasgow. In the recession-hit 1930s, its residents were more likely to be homeless and without work, and its reputation declined. The hostel closed at the beginning of June 1981, Susan Atkinson, the manageress, explaining how reasons for closure were purely economic. Once a local landmark, Simpson’s was soon demolished.