LDN Collective Founder & CEO Max Farrell waxing lyrical about the most recent study trip to the jewel of the North East;

“Last week the LDN Collective had an incredible study trip to one of my favourite cities, Newcastle upon Tyne. It’s a very special place, not just because of the warmth of it’s people, but also the magnificent architecture with probably the finest street in the UK and the most iconic bridge. I believe Newcastle is about to experience an urban renaissance, with newly devolved powers and the first ever Mayor to be elected in May, significant funds through levelling up and HS2 redistribution, as well as the richest football club in the world and the wider impact that investment will have. For me, the values that characterise the people are humility, hospitality, civic pride and an unbeatable sense of humour. All of which were there in abundance.

Our tour took us through its most prominent landmarks, starting at the Quayside and concluding at the Farrell Centre with a mix of historical sites, cultural institutions, and modern developments along the way. The journey began at the vibrant Quayside along the River Tyne, with it’s restaurants, hotels, and bars. One of my father Terry’s most important masterplans which revitalized the waterfront, blending historic architecture with new structures, connecting to Gateshead with the Millenium bridge and opening up a post-industrial area that was previously inaccessible. It was ahead of it’s time in terms of culture-led placemaking and the public realm.

We headed towards the Stephenson Quarter, an area that pays homage to George Stephenson, the “Father of Railways.” We discovered the industrial charm of the Boiler Shop, once a locomotive works repurposed into an event space with markets, concerts, and exhibitions. You could feel the echoes of Newcastle’s industrial past in the creative energy of this transformed venue. The Geordie traits of humour, hospitality and civic pride were overflowing from our tour guide, who was the lone worker eagerly anticipating the Stranglers gig!

Moving on to the Centre for Life, a hub for science, innovation, and education where visitors can explore interactive exhibits, workshops, and learn about cutting-edge advancements in science and technology. It played an important part in opening up these post-industrial backlands that were previously inaccessible and brought back memories of my university dissertation about the power of ‘edutainment’!

We ventured towards Helix, a stunning new development that brings together business and leisure, with residential coming soon. We had an excellent tour from Jenny Hartley, Director of Invest Newcastle, who described the businesses that have located there from defence to life sciences as well as the new Urban Sciences Building and National Innovation Centre for Ageing. Helix is a symbol of Newcastle’s commitment to urban regeneration and bodes well for the other projects in the pipeline like Pilgrim Street and the new Arena.

We headed towards the Great North Museum, a treasure trove of natural history, archaeology, and ancient civilizations with exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to Hadrians Wall, providing a fascinating journey through time and cultures. Pretty good cafe too and free entrance for the public to enjoy.

The Civic Centre is an architectural gem with its imposing structure and landscaped gardens and we were honoured to have a tour and presentation by Louise Sloan, Assistant Director for Planning and Pamela Holmes, Principal Engineer. With so much opportunity and ambition it was surprising to hear how difficult it has been to get traction from DfT on funding for repairs to the Tyne Bridge in time for it’s 100th anniversary in 2028, a campaign we fully support.You can read the BBC News story about that here

We concluded the tour at the Farrell Centre, a new venue for debating the future of architecture and planning, ensuring that everyone has a voice in this conversation. Located on the edge of the University and opposite the Civic Centre, their mission is to widen the debate around the roles that architecture and planning play in the contemporary world in ways that are engaging, innovative and challenging.

We had an event there which 30 people attended, where our socio-economic expert Tim Ashwin presented research and analysis followed by an overview of the LDN Collective – who we are and what we do. It was good to show the three areas that we are now focusing on in a clear and compelling way, with a constellation of specialisms for each of them

You can view and download the presentation here LDN Collective Capabilities – Farrell Centre Newcastle

We ended the evening with a walk to Ouseburn, a relatively new regeneration story in the East of the city. Drinks at the Cumberland Arms followed by dinner at Cook House, we could see why it was voted FT Restaurant of the Year. Known for using locally sourced ingredients to create a menu that reflects the region’s culinary diversity, the founder Anna has become a local hero (and she was trained as an architect!). They are heavily involved in the community, collaborating with nearby farmers, producers, and artisans to promote sustainability and support the regional economy.

It’s hard not to enjoy the amazing attributes of this dynamic city…but this trip was extra special and we have built relationships that will last. We are planning a 10th Anniversary event for the Farrell Review in Newcastle in June…so watch this space and join us for the next trip!

Here is a testimonial from Tara Gbolade, Co-Founder at Gbolade Design Studio. Please do get in touch if you would like us to offer similar support.