The Herschel Building and Spiral Nebula

Biochemistry Opening 5th May 1967, NUA 16/7/1/9, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The Herschel Building is home to the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics. Opened in 1962, the building was named after the astronomer Alexander Stewart Herschel, who was known for his work relating to meteors and comets. Between 1871 and 1886, Herschel was the first Professor of Physics and Experimental Philosophy in the University of Durham College of Science, one of the institutions which formed Newcastle University.  

The Herschel building was a response to a post-war demand for skilled physicists, and provided state of the art laboratories. The Architect, Sir Basil Spence, tried to anticipate developments in research by ensuring the workshops were not too specialised, and that the building itself allowed for improved electrical supplies. 

Spence also commissioned the imposing Spiral Nebula sculpture which stands in front of the building. It’s sculptor, Geoffrey Clarke designed the piece to reflect the pioneering research focussing on space which was taking place at the University at that time. When first installed, Spence disliked the sculpture, feeling that it distracted attention from the building itself, so Clarke re-finished the sculpture in a less striking grey. Restoration work undertaken by Clarke’s son Jonathan in 2012 returned the sculpture to its intended appearance. 

Installation of Spiral Nebula sculpture 1963, NUA/025892/1, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186
Installation of Spiral Nebula sculpture 1963, NUA/025892/5, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Visit Collections Captured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives.

Sources

Historic England (2021) Spiral Nebula outside the Herschel Building, off Haymarket Lane, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1437126.                               

Newcastle University Collections Captured (2021) Department of Biochemistry opening leaflet. Available at: https://cdm21051.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p21051coll2/id/1155/rec/2

Sitelines (no date) Tyne and Wear HER(11003): Newcastle, Newcastle University, ‘Spiral Nebula’ – Details. Available at: https://twsitelines.info/SMR/11003

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Stephenson Building

Aerial photograph showing the Stephenson Building on Claremont Road,
NUA/005670/2, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The Stephenson building, named in honour of inventor of the steam locomotive and local resident George Stephenson, was officially opened by H.R.H Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in December 1951. Design work began after the end of the 2nd World War with the intention of creating new purpose built accommodation for the School of Engineering which had previously been located in the Armstrong Building and other temporary spaces around the university.   

The space incorporated laboratories and workshops that were designed to be easily accessed for the handling of heavy equipment and machinery. The new building included space for Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical, Agricultural and Marine Engineering and mathematics. After a period of expansion Chemical and Electrical Engineering and Mathematics moved to the newly built Merz Court on the other side of Claremont Road in 1964. 

Photo of the Heat Engines Laboratory in the Stephenson Building 1954, NUA/003405/4, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Starting in 2021 a multi-year project is underway to largely redevelop the Stephenson Building to create an eye-catching new entrance to the campus and provide cutting edge facilities for the Department of Engineering. The project will double the building’s floor space by demolishing the two storey wings of the building and replacing them with a striking new four storey facility.  

Visit Collections Captured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives. 

Sources

McCord, Norman (2006) Newcastle University Past, Present and Future. Newcastle: Third Millennium Publishing.  

Newcastle University (2021) Engineering Facilities. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/engineering/who-we-are/facilities/

Newcastle University Press Office (2021) Stephenson Building enters a new stage in its rich history. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2021/04/stephensonbuildingapproval/

Pamphlet commemorating the official opening of the Stephenson Building 1951-11, NUA/16/007/01/22, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Merz Court

Merz Court viewed from the entrance to Exhibition Park 1965,
NUA/039700/3, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

Merz Court was officially opened by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson on the 7th of May 1965. Ever since the building has been home to the departments of Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. Chemical Engineering and Mathematics were previously housed in the Stephenson Building on the other side of Claremont Road. The Department of Mathematics dates to 1871 and the foundation of the University of Durham’s College of Science in Newcastle. The department of Electrical Engineering was previously housed in a disused church on King’s Walk, where the Northern Stage building now stands. 

Harold Wilson Speaking at the Official Opening of Merz Court 1965, NUA/038227/12, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

Merz Court stands over the route of the Barras Burn and the Victoria Tunnel, a wagonway formerly used to transport coal under the city centre to the River Tyne. The design was influenced by the idea of allowing occupants views out rather than letting light into the large labs and other spaces required. This led the long narrow lines of windows on each floor that make the building distinct.  

The building is named after Theodore Merz and his sons Charles and Norbert. Theodore founded the Tyne Electric Supply Company and was a member of College Council for 39 years. Charles, born in 1874, established the successful Merz and McLellan engineering firm which contributed to the planning of the National Grid in the 1920s, he was killed during an air raid on London in 1940.    

Visit Collections Captured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives.

Sources

Art UK (no date) John Theodore Merz (1840-1922), Chemist, Historian and Industrialist. Available at: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/john-theodore-merz-18401922-chemist-historian-and-industrialist-57384#

Newcastle University (2021) Engineering Facilities. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/engineering/who-we-are/facilities/

Pamphlet commemorating the official opening of Merz Court 1965, NUA/16/07/01/16, Newcastle   University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

Wikipedia (2020) John Theodore Merz. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Theodore_Merz

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University Campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Daysh Building

The site of the Daysh building in 1965 shortly before construction began, NUA/036153/2, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

At the time of its construction the Claremont Complex was the largest single building project ever undertaken by the University. The complex incorporated Claremont Tower, Claremont Bridge, the Daysh Building and an extension to the Fine Art Building. The complex, which was officially opened in 1968, was built to house 13 departments including languages, law and geography. These departments had previously been housed around the campus, including the terraced houses on Kensington Terrace, Devonshire Terrace and Sydenham Terrace.  

External view of Claremont Tower, Claremont Bridge and Daysh Building 1968, NUA/059200/1, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

The original design included a 20 storey Claremont Tower, however objections from city planners led to a decision to build a smaller Claremont Tower and the bridge over Claremont road which exist today. On its completion in 1968 Claremont Tower included a relatively rare paternoster lift (a chain of compartments that move up and down in a continuous loop inside a lift shaft). These lifts can move higher volumes of people of than standard lifts, however unreliability and safety concerns caused the paternoster to be replaced with two standard lifts in 1989. 

An extensive refurbishment of the complex completed in 2021 has created a new modern and cohesive building containing teaching and research space for schools including Geography, Politics, Sociology and Architecture. The combined building is now known as the Henry Daysh Building. Daysh led the Geography Department for 36 years from 1930, became Pro Vice Chancellor in 1963 and the university’s first Deputy Vice Chancellor in 1965. He retired in 1966 before the completion of the building that would be named in his honour. 

Page from the pamphlet published for the official opening of the Claremont Complex showing spaces inside the building 1951, NUA/16/07/01/11, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Visit Collections Captured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives.

Sources

King’s Courier (1954) ‘Profile Professor Daysh’, 11th February, p.4.

Newcastle University Press Office (2018) Work starts on bringing a Newcastle landmark into the 21st century. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2018/09/claremontanddayshrefurb/

Newcastle University School of Geography, Politics and Sociology (2021) History of Geography at Newcastle. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/gps/about/about-geography/our-history/

Pamphlet commemorating the official opening of Claremont Tower and associated buildings 1951, NUA/16/07/01/11, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186.

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Great North Museum: Hancock

Photograph of the front of the Hancock Museum 1963, NUA/028473/1, NUA 16/7/1/9, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

In 1834 the Natural History Society of Northumbria opened their first museum to the public after a successful fundraising effort. As their collections grew they required more space and raised funds to build the present museum building which opened in 1884. In the 1891 the museum was renamed to honour John Hancock. Hancock was born in 1808 near the River Tyne and grew up with an interest in wildlife and nature. He developed skills in taxidermy, for which he would become nationally known, after contributing a collection of mounted birds to the 1851 Great Exhibition. Many of the specimens he prepared are owned by the Natural History Society of Northumbria to this day. 

A struggle to raise funds after the Second World War saw the building and collections leased to Newcastle University in 1960. Since 1992 the museum has been managed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums on the University’s behalf. 

In 2006 a £26 million programme was started to extend and refurbish the museum which included moving Newcastle University’s Museum of Antiquities and Shefton Museum collections into the extended building. The project, completed in 2011, included an extension designed by the practice of renowned architect, and Newcastle University graduate, Sir Terry Farrell. His extensive archive is now cared for by the University.  

Learn more about the Great North Museum: Hancock here

Sources

Great North Museum Hancock (2021) About the Great North Museum: Hancock. Available at: https://greatnorthmuseum.org.uk/about-us/about-gnm

Natural History Society of Northumbria (2020) John Hancock: A Biography by T Russell Goddard (1929). Available at: https://www.nhsn.org.uk/john-hancock-a-biography-by-t-russell-goddard-1929/

Natural History Society of Northumbria (2020) Our story so far. Available at: https://www.nhsn.org.uk/timeline/

Learn more about the Great North Museum: Hancock on their website.

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Urban Sciences Building

The Front of the Urban Sciences Building, image by Graeme Peacock

The Urban Sciences Building is a £58 million ‘living lab’ located on the Newcastle Helix development. Completed in 2017, the Urban Sciences Building was opened in 2018 by the Rt Honourable Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

The Urban Sciences Building is home to Newcastle University School of Computing Science, one of the world’s leading schools of computing. It also home to Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS).  

An ‘intelligent building’ with 4,000 in-built censors providing data about its performance, the Urban Sciences Building is one of the most monitored and high-performance buildings in the country. 

It is the central hub of the UK’s first Urban Observatory which collects data from across the city about energy use, rainfall, flooding, air pollution (and even tweets!) to enable evidence-based decisions to be made about the future development and management of our cities. 

The building’s unique design has won it the Collaborative Built Environment Award and Digital Project of the Year Award. 

Interior of the Urban Sciences Building, image by John Donoghue

Learn about the Urban Sciences Building’s Virtual Opening on the University Website.

Sources

Newcastle helix (no date) Urban Sciences Building.  Available at: https://newcastlehelix.com/about/urban-sciences-building

Newcastle University Press Office (2021) Urban Sciences Building takes shape on Science Central. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2015/12/urbansciencesbuildingtakesshape/

Newcastle University Press Office (2021) Virtual opening for award winning Urban Sciences Building. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2018/06/usbopening/

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Northern Stage

Northern Stage is a theatre and producing theatre company, situated at the heart of Newcastle University’s city centre campus.  

Originally the University Theatre, the building opened in 1970. This photograph taken in 1969 shows the site prior to the theatre’s construction. 

In the late 1980s, the Northern Stage Theatre Company, who had been resident at the theatre before temporarily moving, returned to the venue, and the theatre was renamed Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian Studio, home of Northern Stage. 

After it closed for major refurbishment work in 2004, it was decided to amalgamate the venue (Newcastle Playhouse) and resident theatre company (Northern Stage) into one organisation. The building reopened its doors in 2006 under a new name, Northern Stage

Photograph of the Northern Stage, photograph taken by John Donoghue

Northern Stage is widely regarded as one of the top producing theatres in the UK and, each year, as well as their own in-house productions, Northern Stage presents work from visiting local, national and international companies and artists. 

See more information about Northern Stage here.

To see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the university archives, visit Collections Captured.

Sources

Co-Curate (no date) Northern Stage. Available at: https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/newcastle-playhouse/

Newcastle University (2018) Art on Campus. Available at: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/art-on-campus/iconic-buildings/#viewdetails

NorthernStage (no date) Northern Stage. Available at: https://www.northernstage.co.uk/

See more information about Northern Stage on their website

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

The Hatton Gallery

The Hatton Gallery is named in honour of Professor Richard George Hatton, the first Head of the King Edward VII School of Art. The gallery is part of the King Edward VII building, which opened in 1912.  

Hatton 2018, http://www.picturesbybish.com/ | https://www.facebook.com/picturesbybish/, photographed by Chris Bishop

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the King Edward VII building, along with other University buildings, was requisitioned by the War Office as a part of the First Northern General Hospital, a military hospital for wounded service personnel.  

One of the most recognisable photographs in Special Collections to visitors of the Hatton Gallery is Ward C1 of the First Northern General Hospital. The pillars and domed skylights in this image are still a prominent feature of the Hatton’s main gallery.  

Photograph of wounded servicemen and staff on Ward C1 of the First Northern General Hospital 1914-19, NUA/041017-15, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

Less recognisable is this view of the roof of the gallery. However, careful inspection of the photograph reveals the Hatton’s domed skylights in the bottom left-hand corner.

After the First World War, Professor Hatton organised occasional exhibitions in the gallery and, following his death in 1926, the Art Committee decided to name the school’s public art gallery in his honour. 

The Hatton Gallery gained some new spaces in the 1960s when a large new extension to the Fine Art Department was built on stilts. In 1965, the iconic Merz Barn Wall, part of a construction created in a Lake District barn in the late 1940s by German artist Kurt Schwitters, was brought to the gallery and incorporated into the fabric of the building. 

Schwitters Mertzbarn installation in the Hatton Gallery 1968, NUA/054946/2, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

 In 2017 the gallery underwent at £3.8 million redevelopment. A modern exhibition space was created whilst at the same time conserving the historic and architectural elements of the Grade II listed building. 

Hatton Gallery Autumn 2017 (post refurb), Credit and Copyright ©: Colin Davison.+44 (0)7850 609 340.colin@rosellastudios.com.www.rosellastudios.com

The Hatton Gallery, which is now managed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums on behalf of Newcastle University, stages modern and contemporary art exhibitions and events. It also works closely with students from Newcastle University, hosting an annual exhibition celebrating the work of students graduating from the Fine Art Department. 

Find out more about the Hatton Gallery here.

Find out more about the University buildings during the First World War here.

Sources

Hatton Gallery (no date) Hatton. Available at: https://hattongallery.org.uk/

Newcastle University Library Special Collections (no date) A Higher Purpose: Newcastle University at War. Available at: https://speccollstories.ncl.ac.uk/Newcastle-University-at-War/

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Find out more about the Hatton Gallery on their website

Find out more about the University buildings during the First World War in this online exhibition.

King Edward VII Building

The King Edward VII building forms part of the east and south parts of the Quadrangle at Newcastle University. The building was named in honour of King Edward VII who was King of Britain from 1901 until his death in 1910. It was built in 1911 to house the King Edward VII school of Art and is still where the Fine Art Department and the University’s public art gallery, the Hatton Gallery, are housed today.  

Views of the front steps and entrance foyer of the King Edward VII building close to the time of its completion, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The south section of the King Edward VII building adjoins the Arches, over which there is a statue of King Edward VII. 

The Arches leading to the Quadrangle 1960, NUA/007036/1, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

During the First World War the King Edward VII building was requisitioned to house the First Northern General hospital. 

Visit CollectionsCaptured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives

Sources

Co-Curate (no date) King Edward VII Building. Available at: King Edward VII Building, Newcastle University | Co-Curate (ncl.ac.uk) 

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

Philip Robinson Library

The Philip Robinson Library:  57522 (© Chris Bishop)

The Philip Robinson Library is the main library for Newcastle University. It contains resources for all subjects except Medicine and Law, which have their own dedicated libraries on campus. The building opened in 1982, occupying ground cleared during the construction of the Newcastle Central Motorway in the early 1970s. It was named after Philip Robinson, a distinguished bookseller in the city and benefactor to the library, in 1989.  

Philip Robinson’s Bookshop in Newcastle: (© unknown) 

The building was designed by the Newcastle-based architect Harry Faulkner-Brown, a pioneering designer of modern library buildings in the UK and a graduate of Newcastle University. He incorporated echoes of a Northumbrian castle fortress into its appearance through its long narrow windows reminiscent of arrow slits. The building was extended in 1996 to provide additional study space, better provision for staff-user interaction, more teaching space and a large computer cluster. 

The exterior of the Robinson Library building 1982, UNCAT ROB 1, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The library was initially known simply as the Robinson Library until 2016, when it was renamed as the Philip Robinson Library to distinguish it from the new Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms (located on Sandyford Road), named after Philip Robinson’s wife Marjorie who was also a hugely generous benefactor to the library.  

Sources

McCord, Norman (2006) Newcastle University Past, Present and Future. Newcastle: Third Millennium Publishing. 

Visit CollectionsCaptured to see more photographs of Newcastle University campus from the University Archives.

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.