Former Newcastle and Gateshead Gas Company Building, by John Johnstone

Former Newcastle and Gateshead Gas Company Building, Newcastle. Grade II listed building. Designed by John Johnstone (1818-1884), but completed after his death, 1884-86. Sandstone ashlar, with slate roofs. Grainger Street and St John Street, Newcastle. It is very ornate, with a great many decorative details. Gas companies flourished in those days (cf. the Gas Corporation in Birmingham, which paid for the city's grand Museum and Art Gallery with which it shared the same grand premises).

The main features here are the prominent corner bay with its three levels of oriel windows, stretching up to two separated domes, and the central bays on each front sporting balustrades. The skyline is particularly lively as the attic rooms have elaborate gables fronting the pavilion roof, and there are prominent finials. It is very much in the French Renaissance style, and would not be out of place at all in a Paris street — or in certain parts of Kensington — from this period (see Curl 138). It seems fitting that it should later have housed a popular Newcastle department store, Wengers. But it is not an anomaly here: the better-known Newcastle architect John Dobson could already be seen moving towards this style in the nearby Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle (1847-50); also nearby was M. P. Manning's "splendid French chateau," the former Union Club of 1870 (Grundy et al. 491).

This is a complicated building, as well as a fashionable one, with a semi-basement running down St John Street because of the slope. Johnstone must have been a very competent architect.

Photograph, caption and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print document.]


"30, Grainger Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne." British Listed Buildings. Web. 10 November 2012.

Curl, James Stevens, Victorian Architecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990. Print.

Grundy, John, et al. The Buildings of England: Northumbria. London: Penguin, 1992. Print

Last modified 10 November 2012