Work to begin on historic Bigg Market toilets


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Building work will start in a matter of weeks on the Bigg Market’s iconic Former Gentleman’s WC building in Newcastle 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 and stripping out all the fixtures and fittings ready for owners, Newcastle City Council to let the property to new tenants, who have already signed an agreement to lease the site.   The work is expected to be completed in the summer.

The building will be renovated ready for commercial use including a new electrical supply to the property with the new tenants fitting out the interior as a café/wine bar. 

NE1 Ltd who are championing the area’s redevelopment with National Lottery Heritage Funding and support from Newcastle City Council have completed the rest of the public realm works upgrading the Bigg Market by replacing tired and distressed street furniture, new street lighting, additional trees and also creating four level terraced areas for events and markets.  The project will now shift its focus to the listed buildings in the area. 

15 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 nearing completion.  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.

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 commencing.  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.”

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