Whoever said “The best way to see a new city is to raise your eyes upwards” or words to that effect, had a very good point. That said it helps if the city is blessed with an abundance of historic architecture. It applies very well to Glasgow and unquestionably it applies to Newcastle where we earn our keep on a daily basis, trying to match the design skills and ideas of our forebears.
Of course it helps to not be native to a city to see its best features.
I’ve tried hard to prove one of the exceptions to that rule in my stunning home city of Edinburgh – an absolute architectural delight with its mix of ancient, modern and Georgian architecture.
But the truth is Newcastle, pound for pound, is Great Britain’s most exciting architectural eye candy. From the Norman Castle Keep to the iconic Tyne Bridges and the eye-popping and unexpected Sage Centre, through to the quite magnificent Grainger Town you have a city that is a feast for the architectural afficionado.
And the hills. They almost add a fourth dimension to the city, so steep are they.
Every now and then I find a spare half an hour to wander from our base here in Summerhill (notably to the quite ludicrously brilliant Shawarma Express on Westgate Road).
Today, though, with the spring sunshine just about breaking through I vowed to pay a visit to the massive red brick building that obliterates the aforementioned sun from my desk. It’s The Discovery Museum (a 19th century Co-op distribution centre).
Once inside you’ll discover stunning art deco features like these…
It’s a vast and imposing structure but what has been teasing me for months is this brilliant marketing device. A Sherman tank hidden inside a distressed delivery crate seemingly just dumped outside the front door.
Inside you’ll find an Aladdin’s cave of engineering, particularly of a seafaring variety.
It‘s the main concourse’s huge centre-piece that fully draws your attention though.
The legendary Turbinia, built in 1894 by Charles Parsons, it changed the face of maritime history.
It was a technological breakthrough of its time; the first ship to be powered by a steam turbine and, in 1897, was the fastest ship in the world.
A Google Glass of its time that actually worked, you might say.
Check it out here. http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/discovery.html or better still, over the Easter holidays pay a visit. And have your eyes opened.
But, on the way, look up.
Always look up.