Tyne and Wear HER(12903): Newcastle, Pilgrim Street, Commercial Union House - Details
Newcastle, Pilgrim Street, Commercial Union House
Office block. Eight storeys with a large projection over the street. Steel frame and dark aggregate-faced concrete panels. Described by Grace McCombie (1992) - the street is now dominated by large 20th century buildings, and the view from the top is filled by an offensive brutalist tower raised over the road on a street-level podium. Commercial Union House was designed by Howell Brooks Tucker & Partners and completed in 1971. Brutal blocks like this and Norwich Union House in Westgate Road galvanized support for the conservation of the city centre in the late 1960s and 1970s. The building includes a wood-panelled 'gentleman's boardroom'. In 2009 McCombie further describes the building's 'sheer ugliness and inappropriate scale', calling it 'horrendous'. The building, which sits astride the road was apparently meant to 'give a sense of enclosure'. Commercial Union Assurance Co. Ltd had an office on this site in the late 19th century. An insurance plan of 1887 shows the offices at Nos. 31-47 Pilgrim Street. Commercial Union Assurance occupied the first floor.
N. Pevsner and I. Richmond (Second edition revised by John Grundy, Grace McCombie, Peter Ryder, Humphrey Welfare), 1992, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, page 484; Archaeological Services University of Durham, August 2006, East Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne - archaeological desk-based assessment and photographic record, part 2: gazeteer, pages 86-88; Grace, McCombie, 2009, Newcastle and Gateshead, pages 39 and 143