Iconic gangster film location demolished

The 1971 film Get Carter was the classic British gangster picture, generating a whole genre as well as a steady trickle of film tourists to an unlikely location–an ugly concrete car park.

The Trinity Square Car Park in Gateshead, across the river Tyne from Newcastle, England, was the scene of a fight between Michael Caine, playing tough gangster Jack Carter, and bad guy businessman Cliff Brumby, played by Bryan Mosley. It’s also the scene of a very cool cat-and-mouse car chase between Caine’s character and some gangsters.

Get Carter’s unsympathetic protagonist killing his way through urban blight makes for riveting viewing and was unlike any film made in England at the time. Its impact can still be seen in more modern UK gangster films such as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

The car park was opened in 1969 and is an example of Brutalism, an architectural movement in the 60s and 70s that emphasized “truth to materials”, leaving piping exposed and concrete uncovered. Popular in Europe at the time, many people consider these buildings an eyesore now.

Yesterday it started going under the wrecking ball, despite many film buffs (including Sylvester Stallone) calling for it to be preserved. It will be replaced by a new development scheme intended to revamp the downtown. The building is so massive, however, that it’s going to take eight weeks to knock down, so if you hurry you’ll have a chance to see some Brutalism brutalized.

Photo courtesy Rodge500 via Wikimedia Commons.

New Hampshire inn wants you to get dirty this spring

Winter’s starting to turn into spring up in New England, which means pristine white landscapes turn into a brown slop. What do you do with it? The answer might be to smear it all over your body? Well, that’s what The Wentworth by the Sea has in mind. This New Hampshire inn has put together a great package that makes the most of the muddy season.

Head on up to New Castle, New Hampshire, and you’ll receive breakfast for two every morning, a 50-minute organic mud wrap and a sea facial with a bubbling mud back treatment (which sounds absolutely fascinating). Of course, a molten chocolate cake after the treatments in the relaxation room sure doesn’t hurt!

The tab isn’t too bad – only $289 a night (two-night stay Sunday through Thursday required), as long as you use promotion code P42.

Plane dismantled in search of mobile phone

We all know we’re not supposed to turn on our mobile phones until our plane has reached the terminal. We´re told this again and again, and really folks, it´s for our own safety. Of course, some people think they’re special and do whatever the hell they want, like an unnamed but certainly unpopular and embarrassed passenger on a Jet2 flight to Newcastle.

When the flight stopped in Murcia, Spain, someone turned on their mobile. . .and promptly dropped it into an air vent.

Since the phone was on, the plane couldn´t take off because the mobile’s signal could interfere with the navigation systems. The passengers had to wait for three hours as technicians tore out the row of seats this idiot was sitting in, as well as the cockpit area. The mobile was found and the flight continued on its way after the passenger was forced to eat the phone and sing “If I only had a brain” in front of the entire plane.

OK, I made that last bit up, but it would be just, wouldn’t it?

(Oh, and this photo, while oddly appropriate, shows an entirely different hole on an entirely different flight. Poor sgoralnick was flying Delta and this hole blew cold air on her feet the entire time. Check out her photos here)

Hiking Hadrian’s Wall–Day One

The Hadrian’s Wall Path starts with a bang.

It doesn’t look promising. This 84 mile National Trail begins at the appropriately named Wallsend neighborhood of Newcastle Upon Tyne, an industrial city in northern England. Not my ideal way to start a six-day hike, but right at the Wall’s eastern end is Segedunum, one of the most completely excavated Roman forts in the world. Virtually all of it has been uncovered except for a strip buried by a nearby road. An observation tower offers a fantastic view of the foundations of every building.

Going up six floors in the tower’s elevator, I step out into a broad viewing room with floor-to-ceiling windows. To the south flows the River Tyne, an important trade route even in Roman times. Wharves and shipyards line each bank, massive cranes towering over them. To the north, homes and shops stand in orderly rows stretching as far as I can see. At my feet the fort spreads out like a diagram from one of my archaeology books. The headquarters dominates the center. Next to it is the commanding officer’s villa. Even though nothing is left but the foundations it still emanates an air of luxury. The common soldiers had to settle for the long, narrow barracks that run the width of the fort.

Just beyond Segedunum I can see the beginning of the Hadrian’s Wall Path (pictured here) cutting through a screen of trees and disappearing amidst the crowd of buildings. Further to the west all I see is city. My first goal is a village 15 miles away, just beyond Newcastle’s western edge. I have a lot of walking to do before I get to the countryside.

But first I want to explore the fort.

The museum is filled with artifacts found at the site and around Newcastle. There are reconstructions of Roman rooms, diagrams of Hadrian’s Wall, and statues of the man himself. But the most interesting part is next door where there’s a faithful reproduction of a Roman bath, minus the water, slaves, and occasionally randy bathers. Roman forts usually had baths, as it was considered essential for good health and a symbol of Roman civilization. Even poor people went to baths, with the wealthy sponsoring free days for those too destitute to fork over a few copper coins.

After browsing the displays I wander around the fort itself. There’s nothing left but the outlines of buildings, and my ears are filled with the rush of nearby traffic and the horn from a passing boat, yet I find this place strangely evocative of the past. Its completeness despite its position in the middle of a bustling city makes it seem almost defiant, a 2,000 year-old reminder of Newcastle’s origins. But this is just a taste of what’s out there beyond the office towers. It’s time to get walking.


I won’t lie to you, this first stretch of the Path is underwhelming. I’ve never been one for city hiking, and it’s a long, hard slog over pavement. The path mainly runs by the river, so at least I get to watch the boats and get a few glimpses of the past–a Norman keep, some ornate Victorian buildings, and a series of magnificent bridges–but I’m in a hurry to get into the country. There’s nothing more beautiful than the English countryside in good weather, so it’s probably just as well that there’s been a steady drizzle ever since I left Segedunum. I’ll save the good weather for later.

I leave the city center behind and continue along the Tyne through the outskirts. At times the path leaves the river and passes by office parks and abandoned factories. In the distance I can see hills that haven’t been completely absorbed by the city. Housing developments stick like scabs to their otherwise green slopes. People are fewer here–the occasional jogger, a couple of cyclists with packs who are probably doing Hadrian’s Wall too, and a guy in a business suit who parks near the river, gets out, looks down at the water for a couple of seconds with a grim expression, glances at me, then gets back in his car and drives off.

I have one last bit of purgatory before the wilderness–an industrial estate with rows of buildings like concrete boxes. Past these sprawls a vast junkyard of thousands of rusted cars surrounded by a chain-link fence and enough barbed wire to supply the Western Front. Giant signs tell me NO PARKING. NO DUMPING. NO PHOTOGRAPHS. WARNING: GUARD DOGS. I don’t know who these signs are for because I see nobody. Many of the cars are wrecked, and one near the fence, which looks like a giant hand has given it a karate chop, has a message scrawled in yellow paint. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DRINK AND DRIVE. I imagine a group of laughing teenagers coming back from some Newcastle club on a Saturday night. A sudden turn, a truck coming the other way, the kid at the wheel swerves but it’s too late and they go under. I need to get to those hills.

Finally I’m through to a nice stretch of greenery along the placid river. It’s still raining but my spirits lift. The steeple of a village church rising through the trees on the opposite bank provides a welcome change from decrepit docks. Past that I see an old earthwork from the Battle of Newburn Ford, when in 1640 invading Scots met an English army here. The earthworks were English forts, placed there to stop the Scots from crossing the river. They didn’t work. It didn’t help that the English were outnumbered nearly four to one. Newcastle fell to the Scots and the massive amount of spending to get rid of them was one of the contributing causes of the English Civil War.

This has always been a border region. The Romans built the Wall to keep out the Picts and other tribes. The Anglo-Saxons, Normans, and later English kings had trouble with the Scots too. I pass through the battlefield and on through some farmers’ fields. It’s getting dark but it has finally stopped raining and I’m almost to my goal.

I continue on through a golf course and up a steep hill. At the summit is Heddon-on-the-Wall and my first stop, the Houghton North Farm. It’s a farm-turned-hostel at the edge of the village that serves walkers doing the Hadrian’s Wall Path. After settling in I head on over to the local pub for a huge meal of roast beef and a couple of pints of ale. One of the best parts about hiking in England is there’s always a pub waiting for you at the end of the day.

I feel pretty good. I’ve done the first and worst stretch of the hike and am 15 miles closer to my goal of crossing England. Most importantly, the city is behind me. From now on it’s open countryside all the way to the other coast. The good stuff is all ahead of me.

Tomorrow: Day Two, from Heddon-on-the-Wall to Chollerford.

Read the entire series here.

All photos by Sean McLachlan unless otherwise noted.

Photo of the Day (10/08/07)

Angel of the North, Newcastle, shot by ourmanwhere.

Bold shot straight into the sun, very a propos for an angel shot. I like the deep blue of “heaven” against the plain black of “earth”, or “hell” depending on your view of this world. The “little people” at his feet are a nice touch.

***If you’d like your photos to be considered for a Photo of the Day, post them at Gadling’s Photo Pool on Flickr. ***