This film is part of Free

Road to Blaydon

A big-hearted 60s documentary looks at Newcastle’s utopian transformation to ‘a city of the future’ under T Dan Smith’s watch.

Documentary 1968 32 mins

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Logo for North East Film Archive


As the dust settles off the Scotswood Road, an unforgettable TV documentary takes a journey through the ruins. High rise life in the newly minted Cruddas Park tower blocks, named optimistically after trees, promises only loneliness for displaced West End working-class communities. Nostalgia grows for the friendliness of Newcastle’s blighted Victorian ‘slums’ that dipped down to the Tyne, with corner shops, communal washhouses, and a pint in the Forge and Hammer pub.

Known as ‘The Mouth of the Tyne’, the charismatic Leader of Newcastle City Council from 1960 to 1965, T Dan Smith, and his Chief Planning Officer Wilfred Burns pursued their modernist vision for Newcastle with ideological zeal in the 60s. This Tyne Tees documentary was originally transmitted on the 21st October 1968 with redevelopment of the city in full swing. It looks back, with some irony, to an earlier studio programme, which took its title from Wilfred Burns’ words on the job of the planner: ‘To Make People Happy’. T Dan Smith would end up living in a Cruddas Park tower-block flat after serving a six years jail term for corruption involving Yorkshire architect John Poulson.