Picture Portrait: Newcastle’s Armstrong College

I have a number of pictures saved randomly from my research into the Great  War in my home town that I don’t have the origins for, or can’t credit the original source. I love them, and am a little unsure what to do with them as they are quite evocative.

They centre round Newcastle’s Armstrong College (now Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery, then part of Durham University), where the building was commandeered as a war hospital. I’m going to post them here as it seems a real shame to have them languishing on my hard drive.


Staff & Patients


Recuperation. The detail fascinates me, the embroidery on the blankets


Woollen bed jackets, iron framed beds




Beautiful building features

You can read more about the College’s part in the war at the BBC website here.

These pictures have really helped me gain a sense of time and place when writing fiction about the period as part of it is specifically set here and in the area next to it, the Haymarket (at the time, site of a large public urinal!). I’m also an alumni of Newcastle University, and love this particular building – I blame the window of skulls!


Skull window, next to the steps up to the Hatton Gallery

Tomorrow I go back to the fiction writing for a while, I’m taking a break from the factual (sweet relief!). These images are a starting point for the ‘Rule of 500’ – quite simply, I have to write 500 words a day (or more, just no less) 5 days a week for the next month. No set rules about what, but preferably within this time frame and this city. I tried it for a month earlier this year and it yielded some interesting results, so time to repeat.



2 thoughts on “Picture Portrait: Newcastle’s Armstrong College

  1. OMG a window of skulls!!!!

    Old pictures are fascinating, I feel like they are especially so if you don’t know the people in them and it’s so mysterious wondering what their stories were.

    • They keep changing it up. The building was part of a teaching hospital, and sometimes it’s full of old glass beakers and chemical things, other times skulls. I did a double take when I walked past it one day, it’s at ground level so it’s easy to miss, tucked into a corner. It is a lovely old university, though they worked me very very hard!

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