Central Exchange Buildings


“Designed originally for the purpose of a commercial exchange, this heroically proportioned hall has seen many changes …………..” Newcastle Courant, 1892.

The Central Exchange Buildings’ history began in 1834 when it was conceived as an integral element in the Richard Grainger redevelopment of central Newcastle.  A group of people with the financial means, foresight and ability set about transforming the centre of Newcastle into what became one of the finest pieces of civic design of its period in the country.  This unique group comprised Richard Grainger (a self-made and successful builder), John Dobson (his main architect) and John Clayton (the town Clerk and Grainger’s political ally).

The building’s function changed numerous times over the years that followed, in particular after two major fires.  The arcade began construction in 1900 after the second fire at a cost of approximately £40,000 and was opened in 1906.  It was noted that the architect, Messrs J Oswald and Son had, “effected a most complete and harmonious design, and one which, while in itself artistic, thoroughly met the requirements of practical business men.”

Following its use as a Naval Headquarters during the Second World War the building continued to thrive.  Whilst the redevelopment strategy of T Dan Smith and his chief planner Wilfred Burns in the 1960s has been well documented, in as early as 1961 Newcastle City Council decided that certain areas of the city warranted special efforts to conserve their character.  Subsequent legislation in 1967 and 1971 (the latter establishing the Central Exchange Buildings as a Grade II* listed building) ensured protection for the building.

And so the Central Exchange Buildings live on today, undoubtedly one of the finest buildings in Newcastle and home to Irving Ramsay Limited!