Eldon Square Shopping Centre

Eldon Square is a shopping centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It opened in 1976 and was built on the site of Old Eldon Square, a famous part of Georgian Newcastle designed by John Dobson in about 1824.[1] This redevelopment, which left only the eastern terrace standing, has been criticised, with one writer calling it "the greatest single example of architectural vandalism in Britain since the war."[2]

intu Eldon Square
Intu Eldon Square Northumberland Street entrance.jpg
intu Eldon Square's main entrance on Northumberland Street
LocationNewcastle upon Tyne, England
Coordinates54°58′31″N 1°36′54″W / 54.97528°N 1.61500°W / 54.97528; -1.61500Coordinates: 54°58′31″N 1°36′54″W / 54.97528°N 1.61500°W / 54.97528; -1.61500
Opening date1977; 43 years ago (1977)
OwnerIntu Properties
Newcastle City Council
No. of stores and services150
No. of anchor tenants4 (Debenhams, Fenwick, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer)
Total retail floor area130,100 square metres (1,400,000 sq ft)
No. of floors2
Public transit accessEldon Square Bus Station

When the centre opened it was the largest city-centre shopping centre in the UK.[1] In 2013 it was rebranded as intu Eldon Square.[3]

The siteEdit

The Shopping Centre occupies an area close to the old town wall, which followed the course of Blackett Street. This means the modern shopping centre is built on either side of where the wall once stood. From a map drawn by Charles Hutton in 1770, it appears that the ancient wall would have run parallel with the south side of Blackett street. This is the northernmost wall of the South portion of the shopping centre.[4]

As the city would have grown within its town walls, just south of the north wall was the Nunn's Garden. This is around the location of the now demolished Green Market. The Nunn's Garden was bordered by High Friar Chare, a street running almost in-line with 'High Friars way' in the present shopping centre. Wards in this area were named after the towers which guarded the ancient town walls. The wards occupying the south portion of the shopping centre would have been 'Andrew Tower ward' site of Newgate multi-storey car park (now demolished)and Eldon Leisure. 'Fickett Tower ward', is below where Eldon Leisure is located in the present megastructure, and 'Bertram Momboucher Tower ward' is located where the now demolished Eldon food courts and Newgate car park once stood.[4]

North of the town walls Charles Hutton's 1770 map shows a Bowling Green on the site of the present day Marks & Spencer, John Lewis part of the megastructure and Prudhoe Street car park. The area presently occupied by the Northumberland Street entrance to the centre and Fenwicks were in 1770 market vegetable gardens. That would have been south of the Bowling Green.[4]

In 1824 John Dobson was commissioned by Richard Grainger to produce designs for Old Eldon Square. The design involved terraces facing a central square: the terraces were faced with finely cut ashlar.[5]

Post-1960s redevelopment, demolitions, and architectural redesignEdit

During the 1960s the charismatic leader of the city council T. Dan Smith, set the groundwork for a new shopping centre. He intended to use the famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen; however this fell through.[6]

The previous Northumberland Street entrance to intu Eldon Square, now redeveloped.

Old Eldon Square was nonetheless controversially redeveloped in the mid 1970s, with Christopher Booker writing in 1978 that it was "perhaps the greatest single example of architectural vandalism in Britain since the war. Until ten years ago this most handsome piece of old Newcastle, with its blackened, post-classical frontages survived intact. Today only one side remains, the rest dominated by the astonishingly brutal shopping centre put up by Capital and Counties, turning its brick backside on the world in the most aggressive way, in order to lure Novocastrians into the softly-lit womb of the air-conditioned shopping malls within."[2]

The first phase of Eldon Square Shopping Centre opened on 4 March 1976,[1] with a second phase opening in September,[7] and an official opening ceremony in 1977 carried out by Queen Elizabeth II during her Silver Jubilee.[8] At the time it was the largest indoor shopping centre in the country.[9]

Some of the shopping malls were named after elements of local culture; notably Chevy Chase was named after the medieval Northumbrian Ballad of Chevy Chase, and Douglas Way was named after the Scottish Earl of Douglas who takes a prominent role in the ballad.[10] The Fenwick department store established an access from the centre into their store and Bainbridge's, part of the John Lewis Partnership, moved into the centre at the time.[11]

The opening of the MetroCentre in nearby Gateshead during 1986 provided competition for Eldon Square.[12]

In 1989 a new shopping centre, Eldon Garden, opened to the north of Eldon Square. Although separately owned and managed, there is an entrance to Eldon Garden's main shopping arcade from Eldon Square.[13]

The Green Market, which was situated in the southern part of the centre, closed in January 2007 and was demolished later in the year as part of redevelopment works.[14] The new Eldon Square bus station opened in March 2007 and the site of the former Green Market was used to make way for Eldon Square South, a new mall with a Debenhams department store as the anchor tenant.[15]

The centre was rebranded as intu Eldon Square in April 2013 following the renaming of parent Capital Shopping Centres Group plc as "intu properties plc".[16]

Above the shopping malls, a leisure centre called Eldon Leisure was established in July 2015.[17]

The next phase of the redevelopment was the creation of a new dining quarter in the old Sidgate and High Friars malls called Grey's Quarter. Work commenced in summer 2015 with the first restaurant to open being George's Great British Kitchen in October 2016.[18]

Notable storesEdit

Anchor Tenants:

Intu Eldon Square also has main entrances to:

  • Marks & Spencer, one of the most profitable Marks & Spencer stores outside London, with the most profitable food hall in the company.
  • Fenwick, flagship store and headquarters of the up-market chain. One of the largest department stores in the UK.


  1. ^ a b c Morton, David (4 March 2017). "How Newcastle's Eldon Square shopping centre opened on this day in 1976". Newcastle Chronicle. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Urban rides » 5 May 1978 » The Spectator Archive". Archive.spectator.co.uk. 5 May 1978. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  3. ^ Craggs, Francesca (25 November 2013). "Phil Steele, General Manager of intu Eldon Square". The Journal. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Graham Frank 1984, Maps Of Newcastle.
  5. ^ Wilkes Lyall (1980). John Dobson, Architect and Landscape Gardener. Oriel Press Ltd. ISBN 0-85362-181-0.
  6. ^ "Tyneside Modernism - 3:AM Magazine". 3ammagazine.com. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  7. ^ Holmes, Alice (27 February 2016). "Eldon Square is 40". Newcastle Chronicle. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Eldon Square Newcastle - Shopping Centre". e-architect. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Thousands expected at opening of new Eldon Square mall". The Journal. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Ballad lyrics and MIDI". Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Fenwick's first shopping website can trump rivals with own brands, says retail experts". The Chronicle. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  12. ^ "30 years ago today: The Metrocentre in Gateshead opened its doors for the first time". The Chronicle. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  13. ^ Whitfield, Graeme (11 May 2018). "Eldon Garden shopping centre". Newcastle Chronicle. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Historic Greenmarket set to close for good". The Chronicle. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  15. ^ "New £170m Newcastle shopping centre completed". BBC. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  16. ^ "The connected consumer – the future of shopping centres" (PDF) (Press release). Capital Shopping Centres Group. 17 January 2013. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Multi Million Pound Leisure Facility Opens in Newcastle". Alliance Leisure. 6 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  18. ^ Coreena Ford (10 October 2016). "First restaurants open at intu Eldon Square's multi-million pound dining area". Chronicle Live. Retrieved 8 July 2017.

External linksEdit