Consistently ranked as among the happiest cities in the UK, as well as the best place to be a student, Newcastle upon Tyne has so much to give. Whatever you’re interested in, the chances are that Newcastle has it – from the Baltic Art Centre to over 300 cafes and pubs, and over 92 parks and churches, as well as a beloved football team and famously warm welcome, it’s all here. It’s also an affordable place to both live and visit, with tenants on average spending just a quarter of their earnings on rent and many of the city’s attractions easily accessible. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL buildings for architecture buffs to visit in Newcastle.
THE TOFFEE FACTORY
Nowadays, the Toffee Factory is a quirky office building full of creative businesses, but can you guess what it started life as? The answer is fairly obscure, as it was, in fact, a cattle sanatorium. Perhaps not what you were expecting?
Anyway, Maynard’s Ltd leased the building from 1906, and began producing all kinds of sweets, most famously Maynard’s Toffee, but also making:
- Acid Drops — boiled sweets with a sharp taste
- Black Bullets — peppermint flavoured boiled sweets
- Cloves — red and white striped candy
- Pear Drops — pink and yellow sweets with a pear and banana taste
- Humbugs — black and white striped sweets with a peppermint taste
- Aniseed Balls — hard candy flavoured with aniseed oil for a strong taste
- Rock — hard candy sticks usually sold in coastal areas
A fire in 1993 left the factory building severely damaged, and it was abandoned for many years up until its refurbishment in 2011. It is now an office space that houses many creative industries, from advertising to virtual reality and landscape architects.
Erected between 1265-1307, the first purpose of Sallyport Tower was to defend Newcastle’s city walls. Though the top part was destroyed by a Scottish siege in 1644, it was restored in 1716 for its second use as a meeting place for the Shipwright’s and Carpenter’s Guild.
The tower is often inadvertently overlooked by the people of Newcastle, despite it being a notably distinctive site. As such, when photographer Kevin Radcliffe acquired the ancient building in 2015, he dubbed it ‘The Secret Tower’ and transformed its space into a gallery and an area for photoshoots in-between event bookings, such as weddings. Now, The Sallyport Tower opens twice a year for public admission, as a part of the Heritage Open Days calendar, and on these days it’s well worth a visit.
THE ROYAL STATION HOTEL
The Royal Station Hotel is, without doubt, one of the most iconic buildings in the region. The hotel has welcomed many famous guests, including Laurel and Hardy, Laurence Olivier, and Muhammad Ali. But perhaps the most famous hand to grace the doors of the hotel was that of Queen Victoria, who opened the premises in 1850. This standout building makes it one of the most striking hotels Newcastle has to offer, and naturally, it has become a top wedding and events venue as well, with its ornate structures setting the perfect romantic scene.
The site is a Grade I and Grade II listed building, yet it holds many modern facilities which would surprise anyone observing the traditional exterior. From an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre, sauna, hot tub, and free Wi-Fi facilities, The Royal Station Hotel is a must visit for anyone venturing up to the toon.
The Blackfriars site dates back to 1239, and the picturesque cottage style building was once the rectory of a friary. The building was home to the ‘black friars’ (hence the name) and built on land donated by three sisters. The building itself was funded by Sir Peter Scott, the first Mayor of Newcastle.
The friars would tend to the gardens surrounding the priory, which helped to sustain the work of the nearby infirmary with the diverse array of thriving plant life. As well as providing shelter for the friars, the priory housed King Henry III as the town had no inn at the time for royalty. Payment for his stay came in the form of white cloth, which covered both his stay and the damage caused by his retinue. Interestingly, the gifted white cloth provided tunics for the friars, which were worn with traditional black cloaks. It is said that this outfit inspired the black and white football strip of Newcastle United.
Following King Henry VIII’s decree that all monasteries be closed, the building sadly fell into disrepair. The priory lost everything, and the church was demolished. Only the non-religious buildings of the cloisters remain. The friary’s former refectory survived and is now used as an 80-seat restaurant, believed to be the oldest dining room in the UK.
Speaking of the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United, you can’t visit the city without paying a visit to its famous stadium St. James’ Park. A huge stadium of more than 52’000 capacity, it’s known across the country as being a cauldron of noise, atmosphere and passion; the Geordies just love their footy.
That doesn’t mean it’s an inhospitable place to visit on matchday. Quite on the contrary in fact; they are loyal but welcoming bunch. And if you don’t fancy actually attending a match, you can take a tour of the iconic venue, with their Rooftop Tour granting unparalleled views of the city (and the pitch below!). Or, you could catch a gig here. In recent years the stadium has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Bob Dylan and many more.
If you’re visiting the city as a student, then check out our article on the 5 IDEAL ways to make the most of student discounts in Newcastle.