Sunday 11 October 2009

Friends in the North

I have just spent the weekend in the north east of England – beautiful weather and lots of fun in all respects. A highlight for me was seeing the Trinity Square multi-story car park in Gateshead made famous of course by its central role in Get Carter. Sadly dilapidated and slated for demolition by Tesco this monstrous structure has an eerie beauty. When the film was made it was still representative of “space age” modernity. Now it’s an unloved icon in the midst of a city centre desperate to regenerate itself. I wonder how far into the future we will have to go before we fall back in love with 60s and 70s brutalist concrete? Too long probably, or at least long enough for it all to have been dynamited or succumbed to concrete cancer.

I don’t use the term icon lightly. On the whole I am with Jonathan Meades on this exhausted word. But here I think it is right. Everyone will talk about the car park and show it to you with a semi-detached pride. There is a “Get Carter Butchers” in one the nearby down-at-heel retail parades. Taxi drivers jump at the chance to talk about memories of the location filming even if they are probably too young to really remember it. I think it will leave a hole when it’s blown up. It may be the hole of a healed scab or a lanced boil but something will have gone.

I would like to see a rehabilitation into something useful and worthy of local and national pride. A museum and interpretation centre for British Gangsterism is the top canddate right now – perhaps not top of Heritage Lottery Fund priorities.

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