1920s

Posted May 2nd, 2011

After the war was over, the economic fortunes of the area slumped. Tyneside as a whole suffered badly in the great depression.

The traditional industries of West Newcastle, such as heavy engineering, coal and steel, were seriously affected, and unemployment and poverty became more widespread. In retrospect it can be seen that an underlying cause of these problems was the endemic failure of much of British industry to re-invest adequately and maintain its competitive edge.

One of the high profile casualties locally was Spencer’s Steelworks in Newburn, which shut in 1926 with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs. There were also a number of company mergers during this period, and several well known names disappeared. Armstrong’s merged with Vickers in 1927 to become Vickers-Armstrong.

The area also suffered in other ways. This period witnessed the worst mining tragedy of its history in 1925 when a major disaster at the Montagu Pit in Scotswood claimed 38 lives. Most of the victims are buried at Elswick cemetery.

On the positive side, the inter-war years saw the building of the first council estates in the area, providing homes for thousands of families who had previously been dependent on private landlords and often lived in appallingly cramped and unhygienic conditions.

Pendower Estate was built in the 1920s as part of a national crash building programme to provide “homes fit for heroes” after the First World War. The City Council saw this as an opportunity to provide local families with generously designed, good quality homes with gardens at affordable rents. They chose a garden suburb model for Pendower which they hoped would offer the best aspects of a traditional English village.