WALLSEND was the first local authority in Northumberland to begin redevelopment of its central shopping area in a comprehensive manner in 1962.
Compulsory purchase orders were served on land for the proposed town centre, Moulden’s, Rochester’s, Hedderley’s and Findlay’s were offered sites in Hadrian Road. All refused and appealed.
Contractors Murrayfield Real Estate Development Company managing director A G Wright and chairman Field-Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck, came from Birmingham to meet Wallsend Council members Ald Charles Palmer, chairman of the housing and town planning committee; John Stoker, town clerk; W Dunn, borough treasurer and G Snowball, borough surveyor; with architects from J Seymour Harris & Partners.
On October 9, 1964, Mayor Coun J P Dixon cut the first sod on the four-acre site, to be completed in two phases, the second being High Street shops demolished and incorporated into the scheme.
Murrayfield officials said: “The development will be attractive at night, when illuminated, as it is during daylight hours.”
The proposal was for 53 shops of varying sizes at ground level, a three-storey multi-department Co-operative and a double-storey car park for 240 vehicles.
Coun Dixon and Sir Claude Auchinleck held a joint stone-laying ceremony on April 29, 1965.
Pile-drivers on the site were held responsible for cracks appearing in the walls of a house in Elton Street.
The Romanesque Forum shopping centre was designed with tiled murals and landscaped seating areas, the centre-piece – a bronze statue of a third century Roman woman by Hans Swartz.
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