Over the last 40 years, countless people have contributed to shaping Ouseburn Valley into what it is today. For this month's Ouseburn Heritage Blog, we take a moment to tell you about the 10 people whose names you'll find inscribed in the centre of the Valley. 

November 2021

On behalf of everyone who shares a common vision of a sustainable, vibrant and diverse future for the Valley, the Ouseburn Trust is paying homage to just a few of the individuals who’ve dedicated themselves to this area and its community.

We have inscribed the names of 10 individuals on the iconic steps of the Village Green, opposite the Cluny. Although most of these individuals featured are no longer active in Ouseburn, they have all contributed significantly to the early regeneration of Ouseburn, going above and beyond to shape the Ouseburn we’ve all come to love today. We hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate these names, and crucially, the passionate community that they represent.

Bob Langley

Bob was among the core group that formed the Ouseburn-focused Steering Group that would formally become the Ouseburn Trust in 1996. Although Bob retired as Archdeacon of Lindisfarne in 2008, it is as an Anglican Canon based at Newcastle’s St Nicholas Cathedral that he is best known. Bob, from South Yorkshire, had returned north from the South East to act on the hard-hitting ‘Faith in the City’ report produced by the Church of England.

Bob was the first chair of the Trust, and until 2006 he was an integral part of the sympathetic rebirth of the Ouseburn Valley. Inspiring trust, respect, and affection, Bob was exactly the person needed to bring together disparate parties to realise the widely held desire to see the kind of Ouseburn Valley we have today. Bob was also chair of the Ouseburn Partnership (a body made up of interested organisations working with the Trust), in which he played a vital role in the securing of £2.5-million of regeneration-related funding.

Previously Bob had chaired the East Quayside Group, a broad-based local pressure group committed to a critical and constructive engagement with the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation, pressing for local benefit and involvement in the powerful quango’s plans for the redevelopment of Newcastle’s quayside. With the East Quayside development nearing completion Bob was among those whose attention turned to the Ouseburn Valley. pre-served?

Bob remains active in the communities adjoining the Ouseburn in his role as chair of Caring Hands, the Shieldfield-based charity for older people and people with disabilities.

Peter McIntyre

Peter was appointed in 2001 as the first Environment Officer for the Ouseburn Partnership. His drive, skills, enthusiasm for the area have helped protect much of what we value here today. Without him the type of regeneration we have witnessed would not have happened, nor would it have set the bar as high as it is.

Peter ran the Ouseteam from 2002 to 2006 with 15 Newcastle City Council officers working on Ouseburn at one time. He managed to secure not only massive amounts of public money for Ouseburn projects but completed complex negotiations to get schemes off the ground. He created a can-do attitude, encouraging many local stakeholders to fulfil their aspirations, moving Ouseburn up the agenda for many outside organisations.

From 2009 to 2011 Peter was Director of Planning and Programme Management at 1NG - the short-lived Newcastle Gateshead Development Company - where he used his Ouseburn background to support the Toffee Factory refurbishment and set up the framework agreement with Igloo to develop the Malings and four other sites at the mouth of the Ouseburn.

Peter went on to become Executive Director of City Development at Sunderland Council in 2018.

Dale Bolland

Dale worked in the East End for Newcastle City Council for many years as a Planner, Economic Development Officer and Regeneration Officer. He played a vital role during Ouseburn’s development in the 1980s and remained close over the decades that followed.

Dale is a long-standing member and trustee of the Ouseburn Trust who has shared the immense wealth of knowledge he gained during his time at Newcastle City Council to help inform redevelopment projects in the Valley, often helping shape a vision shared by much of the community. For Dale, the work in the Valley remains unfinished business, and he hopes to continue to drive forward projects which nurture and improve Ouseburn.

Peter Kay

Peter Kay initially joined the Ouseburn Trust as Business and Development Manager in 2005. He developed a range of projects many with outside bodies including the Living Archive, the Live Work Self-build, Creative Gleam with Durham Business School, Street Stars, and the Open Doors project.

He left in 2014 to emigrate to Alice Springs and his name was inscribed on the steps as his leaving present.

Rick Anderson

Rick was a very active councillor for Sandyford ward and Chair of Newcastle City Council’s Housing Committee. He was an instrumental driving force in kickstarting the regeneration of the Valley during the 1980s and 90s.

In 1988, Rick set up a City Council working group that produced the first strategy for the Ouseburn Valley area - a mixed-use urban village - which continues to be the strategy used today. He also secured the first public funding for projects to enhance the local heritage and orientation signage.

He was active in the formation of the Ouseburn Trust and a trustee for some years. He later became heavily involved in Ouseburn Community Centre.

He sadly died in 2013 after a short illness.

Fred Hoult

Fred was the Managing Director of Hoults for many years, overseeing the last days of Maling Pottery and developing the space as a business centre.

He nurtured and supported many start-up businesses that eventually went on to see great success. Fred started the transformation of the Yard from transport and storage uses to the large vibrant hub of creative businesses, food and drink venues, and visitor attractions it is today.

He handed the Hoults reigns over to his son Charlie in 2014 but continued to visit the Valley to sample the latest cuisine and meet with old friends.

He sadly died in 2019.

George French

George was an artist and environmentalist active in the Ouseburn Valley. His art could be challenging, always intriguing, controversial and often hilariously funny. Multi-media projects, sculptures, installations, poetry, journals. A ‘self-styled’ Geordie shaman – and who would doubt it. He was uncompromising and ‘authentic’ in his life, often living in a woodland shack without water or power. During his time as Manager of the Caring Hands Charity based in Shieldfield (for older people and people with disabilities), he also made a positive impact on the communities adjacent to the Ouseburn. His artwork blending the urban with the rustic was genuinely mystical, and so, to many, George was a kind of embodiment of the creative and ‘alternative’ spirit of the Ouseburn Valley. George died in 2019.

Susan Tron

Susan was the driving force behind the establishment of the charity Stepney Bank Stables when it set up independent of Byker City Farm in the former stables on Stepney Bank. She oversaw the establishment of the indoor riding arena and outdoor facilities of this unique inner-city horse riding facility.

Susan grew the organisation from just 2 donkeys to nearly 30 horses and ponies and an active membership of over 400. Susan and many of the animals featured in a CBBC pro-gramme based at the stables. Under her leadership, Stepney Bank Stables was the first inner-city community horse project in the country, reaching disadvantaged and vulnerable children living locally. Tronnie, as we called her, used horses to motivate, educate and pass on key social skills. The organisation was given a Queen’s Award for community engagement and in 2008 Susan was awarded an MBE for services to riding for underprivileged people. She left the Stables in 2013 to join Durham Community Action Team.

Maurice Condie

A larger than life musician and Chief Executive of Byker Bridge Housing Association (BBHA), Maurice, along with Mick Marston and Hugh Massey, worked to draw up the first Ouseburn Urban Village plans, which included the indoor riding arena and the conversion into flats of Steenbergs Buildings on Lime Street, a former abattoir. He helped evolve BBHA, now known as Tyne Housing. Maurice helped the organisation take on Ouseburn Farm, when the City Council reduced funding, managing, subsiding and bringing animals back. The Farm had been started in 1976, one of the earliest new development in the regeneration of the valley, mainly through Jon Davies, Byker ward Councillor.

Maurice's determination saw the development of Farm View on Foundry Lane, 42 flats occupied by Tyne Housing tenants. Maurice left Tyne Housing in 2015.

Tony Brookes

Tony, with his wife Carolyn, founded Legendary Yorkshire Heroes, a real ale takeaway business and licensed trade wholesale operation. He also took over ownership of the Off Quay Building on Foundry Lane, taking on the ambitious project of converting an almost derelict building. He converted the rest of the building into units for rent - occupiers included the Ouseburn Partnership offices.

He later sold the Off Quay Building and launched The Head of Steam pub chain, eventually returning to Ouseburn when Mike Mould decided to lease out the Cluny Bar. Tony developed the Cluny into a renowned live music venue and thriving food and drink establishment. He was often in Ouseburn on his Harley Davidson giving us all advice on planning, transport and other matters.

Tony sold Head of Steam to Camerons Brewery in 2013 but remains closely linked with the Valley as one of the residents.

We’d like to say a special thank you to Charlie Hoult, managing director of HyHubs, for part-funding this project.