Grey’s monument from the top

Grey’s Monument in the centre of Newcastle is rarely open to the public and I missed a chance to visit on one of the Heritage Days due to other commitments. A few days later I was lining up a photo of the monument from the entrance of the Theatre Royal and noticed, through the viewfinder, people on top of the monument … so I went over and found that it was being opened as part of a council activity to encourage healthy living … one of the healthy activities on offer being the climb of 164 steps to the top of the Monument.

So after a fair bit of huffing and puffing I arrived at the top armed with my Yashicamat 124G twin lens reflex film camera loaded with Kodak Tmax 100 black and white film. The area at the top of the column is really cramped, about 18 inches wide, so no room for a tripod.

The main attraction is the view down Grey Street. This shot has been “toned” in Adobe Lightroom with the “Platinum Palladium” preset, and a virtual grad filter added to get a small amount of detail in the sky.

To be honest, having waited all my adult life for a chance to photograph the view, I was a bit disappointed. It was a very hazy day with flat lighting; golden hour lighting would have been much more interesting, preferably without the parked cars, but it’s unlikely you would get a chance to ascend the monument very early or late in the day.

The view above is to the South, looking towards Gateshead on the hill in the distance. The views to the north, east, and west, are really just a jumble of miscellaneous buildings without a clear arrangement.

While we’re at this spot, here’s an older shot showing Grey’s monument in the background (left) and the Theatre Royal in the foreground:

I took this shot on a Canon T90 (sadly now deceased) and a 17mm Tokina lens. The lens gave a tremendous amount of distortion and the photo was straightened in GIMP with the perspective correction tool. The film was again Tmax 100. I’ve since sold the lens since I rarely feel the need to use such a wide angle.

Grey’s Monument is a monument to the 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834, who also gave his name to Earl Grey tea.

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