A year long photographic portrait of a housing estate in Newcastle upon Tyne. Supported thy the Tyne & Wear Development Agency and Amber-Side. 1994-95
The Riverside is an area of Walker, lying to the east of the centre of Newcastle, on the north bank of a kink in the River Tyne. The area comprises some fifteen hundred households; a mix of tower block accommodation and semi-detached council housing.
The estate was built in the 1920′s around the then prosperous tar and lead works, many recall it being a wonderful place to live. Closures, cut backs and various re-housing schemes of the post war era left their inevitable scars upon the face of the community. By the 1980′s the Riverside had problems which seemed almost incurable. Decay, violence and crime, the statistics made bleak reading. While other inner city areas rose up against their plight the Riverside carried on, not in collective anger but in collective apathy. All the time its reputation grew.
The very location of the area contributed to its decline. Set within a loop of the river, at the bottom of a steep bank and cut off from the rest of Walker by a busy road; its perceived isolation led the residents to feel cut off. To go anywhere out of the estate was a walk up ‘the bank’ and then a bus ride, this ultimately put many off. Crime statistics showed that the majority of offences were committed by residents, yet offenders would rarely go further afield, even to ‘richer pickings’.
By the late 1980s things had improved slightly. The local authorities had recognised some of the areas’ problems and were tackling them, albeit slowly. However by this point its reputation was sealed, to some it was an estate with its problems, to others it was almost a ‘no go’ area.
In 1990 the Walker Riverside Residents Association was established and immediately employed a development officer. Numerous schemes and initiatives were set up and other agencies were attracted to the area. The work done by the residents on their own behalf and the efforts of the various agencies is a credit to what can be achieved with community action.
These images are dedicated to all those who are working to make Walker Riverside a better place.
Richard Cross, 1995