After a brief hiatus as I had a week’s holiday, the weekend ‘I visit’ stories are back and I decided to stay close to Newcastle city centre, visiting Ouseburn.
The area has undergone a massive transformation over the last few decades, with it now being hub for the creative arts industries as well as having some high-quality local businesses.
Ouseburn has half a dozen art galleries and studios in what is a relatively small area, as well as The Cluny music venue, several pubs and bars and multiple locally based cafes and bakeries.
Looking at the history of the area, it fell into disuses in the mid 20th century, before the Ouseburn Trust, in conjunction with Newcastle City Council, started to regenerate the area in 1996.
It is no surprise that the area is now seen as a trendy place to live, and I decided to head along to the neighbourhood in order to see this cultural hotspot for myself.
Pulling into the area, it was immediately clear that it is largely populated by young people, a promising sign that it has been able to position itself as an attractive proposition to them.
I thought it would be a good idea to head into a couple of the local businesses situated on Stepney Bank, which are overlooked by the domineering Byker Bridge.
I first went into Dreamworld Cakes Patisserie, where I spoke to owner Bernadette Szucs, who talked about how the area has changed in the seven years that her business has been based there.
She said: “When I moved in around seven years ago, the area could definitely have been described as being rough. However the police and the council have done a great job of cleaning up the area, which his encouraged new businesses to move in.
“The area has started to attract young people which is great for its future. I feel so much more safe in the area than I did when I first moved here, and this is because of the amazing community we now have.
“I would describe the place as quirky and lively, with a real focus on creativity from its residents. It is a good mix of being family orientated while also having a nightlife. It’s a very trendy place to live and I love it here”, she said.
My next stop was just next door to the Wildflower florist, where Hannah Price, who has been based in Ouseburn for eight years, gave her thoughts on what the area was like when she moved in and how it has changed in that time.
She said: “When I got here there was only really the music scene in the area with The Cluny, but it didn’t have a massive amount going for it beyond this. Now it has a far better daytime element, with places like the farm and Seven Stories adding to the family friendliness.
“It’s still not a huge retail area, which is why I supplement the shop with online sales and work with events, which have increased in the area with new bars opening.
“Ouseburn is an area with a lot of creative people, which allow for some very interesting events to take place. There is a big community spirit about the place and I love the village feel that it has”, she added.
I then went on a walk along the river to take in the sights for myself passing many cyclists, people out walking, and even a tour that was showing people around the area.
It is clear to see that there is a huge sense of pride from residents about the growth of the area, and that people are eager to continue this, as new businesses move in to help this along.
One of these relatively new businesses is Northern Rye bakery, who moved into the area in July of 2020. With restrictions during the pandemic preventing them from staying fully open for very long, it was a difficult time to do this.
A staff member from the store has given her thoughts on Ouseburn, and how the resident’s interest in their products has been massively helpful to the business.
She said: “We moved in back in 2020 and it was such a strange time for everyone, but we were so busy it was crazy when we first opened. We were able to find ways to adapt during the pandemic and this has been massively helpful.
“The pandemic definitely forced people to find places in the UK where they have never been before, such as Ouseburn, and the fact that they had to shop locally was really helpful for us.
“Ouseburn is a relaxed place, and the people are easy-going and chilled. It is also a very interesting place and I am eager to see how it develops further in the future”, she said.
As I came to the end of my short visit to Ouseburn, it had become very apparent how much the neighbourhood has set itself apart from the rest of Newcastle.
Whether it is through the creativity that seems to permeate the air as you walk alongside the river, or the smell of freshly baked goods that does the same thing, Ouseburn is a place to look out for in the future, as I can only see it getting better from here.
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