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The Tyne Brand Factory Needs to be Flattened

And the Whole Area Re-envisioned as Parkland & Enterprise Space

15th September 2023 by Luan Hanratty

The dense expanse of scrub on Tanners Bank, to the south of Tynemouth Road, could become a cherished asset to both North Shields and Tynemouth. It is a large chunk of land that has been hidden for over a century.

The ghastly burnt out ruin of the Tyne Brand factory stands at the foot of the space and it’s been a ruin for over 40 years. It’s continued presence is an affront to North Shields, and it’s an affront to the legacy of Richard Irvin and the famed industry he built. Unfortunately, we all have to look at it every time we visit the Quay. There’s no escaping it, and it’s the worst advert for the area.

The Council have powers. They should exercise these powers to demolish it and develop the land as a public resource.

Within this wasteland is the Pow Dene industrial estate and on its three sides are George Street East, Percy Street, Northumberland Street, and Tanners Bank. These streets and units are home to a number of niche businesses that contribute to the area, despite the neglect surrounding them. But there should be fives times as many businesses around there.

1894 Town Plan. The land was once open with pathways and the stream flowing out from the culvert.

There could be a plan for the place. The dene was once the course of the Pow Burn. Maybe that culvert could be dug up in part and diverted. There is an electricity substation but it shouldn’t be a problem to have a utility like that operating safely behind walls, while the larger, prettier space is utilised for the benefit of the public.

The Ouseburn in Byker is the model here. It was a hive of industry and it was able to endure decades of decline and then reinvent itself as a hub of artists and businesses, with pubs, parkland and a city farm surrounding it. There is no reason the Pow Dene can’t be a new Ouseburn, but one with stunning views of the harbour.

Personally, I don’t think flats should be built there. Not every spare inch of land in Tynemouth or Shields has to be flats. The flats that get built locally are never affordable anyway and would probably just get used as Airbnbs. The Royal Quays was the last place to properly institute mixed-value housing, and this served as a model for other re-gen projects in the country. If flats are going to be built, they should be limited in number and affordable.

A Relaxed Haven for Families and Walks

The Pow Dene could become a southern extension of Northumberland Park with a tunnel between the two, or steps going up to the road. There could be information describing how the early industries like the salt pans, the tannery, the brewery, the waggonway and the winding engine worked. It could educate people on how industry thrived in the valley, what the first fish quay under the Irvin Building would’ve looked like, and how the people on Brewhouse Bank lived before the town expanded upwards. There could be a visitor centre with a Fish Quay heritage museum where kids learn how to make nets and learn what a coble and a herring drifter is.

What it looked like in 1855 with the Dolphin and Holy Saviours in full view

There could be small shops and cafes. Where can you buy a sandwich and a paper on the Fish Quay? There could be more units built for workshops and studios in creative industries, and there could be tables, seating and walkways with entrances on all four sides. The Pow Dene should be a welcoming haven that puts smiles on people’s faces. A pleasant place in what is currently an absolute disgrace.

‘Pew Dene’ Tannery 1858

Tanners Bank has potential, loads of it. The Fish Quay is crying out for some vibrancy and something to give people hope. We don’t want a fenced off overgrown scrub with no redeeming features that serves as a blight on the area. The Council need to show some courage and act on this embarrassing wasteland.


3 thoughts on “The Tyne Brand Factory Needs to Be Flattened”

  1. Excellent points, could not agree more.
    Meanwhile the council are spending millions on a ‘path’ from Bell St to Tyne St.
    Shutting the road off to the fish quay for a year to complete a new thoroughfare that will essentially divert customers away from the local businesses!

  2. Excellent article. So full of good sense and obvious truths. Let’s hope those with the powers take it on board. As it happens this morning (2 Feb) a group of people were ‘surveying’ the site. Perhaps something is going to happen.

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