The Bigg Market’s iconic former Gentleman’s WC building is set to be transformed into a café/wine bar.
Building work will start in a matter of weeks as part of NE1 Ltd’s National Lottery Heritage Fund regeneration of the Bigg Market historic quarter.
The Victorian toilet buildings will be completely refurbished, replacing the roof with a modern zinc and glass structure.
Leisure entrepreneur Steve Blair has been in discussions with Newcastle City Council to transform the public convenience into a bar for two years.
And now the 30-year-old engineer is ready to start work to transform the loos into one of Newcastle’s trendiest drinking establishments.
The work is expected to be finished in the Summer, with a view to the bar opening in the Autumn.
NE1 Ltd who are championing the area’s redevelopment, with National Lottery Heritage Funding and support from Newcastle City Council, have already replaced tired and distressed street furniture, installed new street lighting, planted additional trees made four level terraced areas for events and markets.
Alex Slack, Bigg Market Project Manager at NE1 Ltd said;
“The Victorian WC’s have always been a major focal point for the Bigg Market and it’s great to see this project finally starting. There are some fantastic examples of converted subterranean WC’s in both London and Manchester and it’s great to see this building being brought back in to use”
“The transformation of the toilet building is the final piece in the jigsaw for the Bigg Market’s public realm redevelopment and signals an important milestone in the project.”
“We hope that giving a new lease of life to what is the centrepiece of the area will encourage building owners to come forward to invest in their own buildings with our help and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.”
Mawson Kerr architects have fully designed the scheme with Historic Property Restoration appointed as the contractor to carry out the work.
Cabinet Member for Employment, Cllr Ged Bell, said: “The Bigg Market toilets are part of the historical fabric of Newcastle where generations of Geordie gents have spent a penny. It was a sad day when financial pressures forced their closure, but we always knew they would come back into use one way or another.
“Council staff have worked extremely hard in their quest for a suitable tenant and never gave up. The announcement that this intriguing building will become a café/wine bar is great news.
“The Bigg Market is one of the most loved parts of the city centre and although it did start to look a bit shabby it’s now undergoing an exciting renaissance that will add another dimension to what Newcastle city centre has to offer.
“With the £100m redevelopment of the old Newgate Street Shopping Centre, just up the road, this part of the city is now attracting unprecedented levels of investment.”
The Bigg Market development project is also focusing on the listed buildings in the area.
Fifteen eligible properties in the Bigg Market were originally identified as part of the application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016 and the owners have been contacted and encouraged to apply for grants to restore their buildings and shop fronts.
Grants are still available from the programme to renovate buildings and property owners still have the opportunity to apply.
44-48 Cloth Market, a Grade II listed building, owned and operated by the Malhotra Group, was the first to apply for the funding and work to renovate the building’s facade is almost finished.
The toilets will be the next phase of the work on the Bigg Market and NE1 hopes this will prompt further interest from eligible property owners.
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