Our 10 photos from the ChronicleLive archive recall some events around Tyneside in the 1920s
Trams and horse-drawn carriages on the streets. A war memorial is unveiled. A luxury cruise ship on the River Tyne. Striking workers hold up placards.
About a century has passed since our 10 photos from the ChroniceLive archive were taken. They capture scenes around Tyneside between 1920 and 1929. For many it was a very difficult decade – one shaped almost entirely by the devastation of the First World War of 1914-18.
As we mentioned in our recent article Tyneside In The 1930s, the conflict and its largely dire aftermath led directly to another catastrophe, World War II of 1939-45 – and future historians are likely to describe the entire bleak period of 1914-1945 as consider a protracted conflict of the 20th century.
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The beginning of the 1920s put British industry in a difficult position. His 19th-century techniques had long since peaked and were no longer appropriate in a competitive world. British technology was in decline long before 1914. Post-war Europe was in chaos, and a return to the empire of days gone by simply did not happen.
Our region was hit hard and the once thriving shipbuilding and coal industries never fully recovered from the slump they experienced in the late 1920’s. Large parts of the industrial Northeast suffered great hardship.
And in the middle of the decade there were more problems as the country was gripped by widespread industrial action as hard-pressed workers and their families, suffering from deteriorating living conditions, were stretched to the breaking point. There were two police strikes, a nationwide rail strike, two nationwide coal strikes, a two-month shipbuilding strike, a two-month engineering strike, and the nine-day general strike that saw nearly two million workers walk out.
But beyond the gloom, there was something positive to be found. For some, this was the decade of “bright young things,” jazz, and new, daring fashions. At home, some families bought basic wireless equipment while John Logie Baird founded Britain’s first television station in 1924.
Young people might be going to the local dance halls, and by the end of the decade the first ‘talkies’ had arrived in Tyneside’s cinemas, although in 1929 our sister publication The Journal declared that this new form of cinematic entertainment was ‘like roller-skating, a phase of entertainment , which will be short-lived”.
Those were some notable events here in the Northeast in the 1920’s. The region received a distinctive new physical symbol in the form of the New Tyne Bridge (to give it its full title), opened by King George V in 1928.
In terms of sport, Newcastle United won the FA Cup for the second time in 1924. Three years later they won their fourth and last championship title to date. Fittingly, fans could celebrate with the newly produced Newcastle Brown Ale, which was first brewed in the same year.
In 1929, the huge North East Coast Exhibition at Newcastle’s Exhibition Park was designed to showcase the region’s industrial talent and energy at a time of economic hardship. But just days after the exhibition closed, the Wall Street crash in New York unleashed a wave of global economic chaos that would lead to a multitude of troubles in the next troubled decade—the 1930s.