A re­gion still hard at work 40 years ago

Sunday Sun - - News - By Dave Mor­ton david.mor­ton.ed­i­to­rial@ncj­me­dia.co.uk

WE were still build­ing things in the North East 40 years ago - as a few of this week’s pho­tographs show.

The QE Metro Bridge across the Tyne would soon con­nect New­cas­tle and Gateshead as work pro­gressed two years be­fore the ur­ban railway opened and rev­o­lu­tionised trans­port in the re­gion.

Fur­ther down the river, at Wallsend, the air­craft car­rier HMS Il­lus­tri­ous was launched at Swan Hunter. She would serve un­til 2014.

And ship­build­ing was still a go­ing concern on the River Wear as we see the Duchess of Kent vis­it­ing the Austin and Pick­ers­gill yard in Sun­der­land, 10 years be­fore it fi­nally closed.

We step back to 1978 in our trawl through the Sun­day Sun pic­ture ar­chive - but what else was hap­pen­ing four decades ago?

In foot­ball, New­cas­tle’s 13-year res­i­dency in foot­ball’s First Divi­sion came to an end, and they were rel­e­gated af­ter a dis­mal sea­son. They would join Tyne and Wear neigh­bours Sun­der­land in the sec­ond tier, and it was left to Mid­dles­brough to fly the flag for the North East in the game’s top flight.

If it was doom and gloom in the world of foot­ball, Ian Botham was prov­ing him­self one of the great­est crick­eters of all time. In a Test match at Trent Bridge against Pak­istan, “Beefy” hit 108 runs, then bowled out eight op­po­si­tion bats­men for the loss of just 34 runs.

In a very dif­fer­ent sport, the Boat Race saw a hap­less Cam­bridge crew sink­ing into a choppy River Thames.

In the en­ter­tain­ment world, young TV view­ers watched the first episode of a se­ries that would run for 30 years – Grange Hill. Mean­while, for the grown-ups, the cult sci-fi fan­tasy se­ries Hitch­hik­ers Guide To The Galaxy was also broad­cast for the first time. Happy Days, The Mup­pet Show, and Char­lie’s An­gels were other es­sen­tial tele­vi­sion staples of the era.

In the twin worlds of cine- ma and pop, the disco phe­nom­e­non ex­ploded with the re­lease of the film Satur­day Night Fever. Un­but­toned shirts, medal­lions, and flares be­came the or­der of the day for North East blokes hop­ing to em­u­late the dance-floor shapes of John Tra­volta.

The Amer­i­can heart-throb also starred in the year’s other big movie hit, Grease, and en­joyed pop chart suc­cess with co-star Olivia New­ton John.

As for se­ri­ous news, 1978 was the “year of three popes” – Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II all held of­fice; punk star Sid Vi­cious was ar­rested over the mur­der of his girl­friend Nancy Spun­gen; and Bri­tain was shocked by the mur­der of 13-year-old pa­per­boy Carl Bridge­wa­ter in the West Mid­lands.

The world was chang­ing: global pop­u­la­tion reached 4.4 mil­lion, the first test-tube baby was born, and the video game Space In­vaders be­came a craze, paving the way for the Xbox gen­er­a­tion of to­day.

En­joy our se­lec­tion of pho­tographs... Front: Men at work high above the River Tyne on the new Queen El­iz­a­beth II Metro Bridge, 1978

Nurses train­ing at the re­cently opened Free­man Hos­pi­tal, New­cas­tle, 1978; left, Whit­ley Bay Play­house, Oc­to­ber 1978

The coastal oil tanker Po­lar­is­man leav­ing Mid­dles­brough docks for Im­ming­ham, 1978

Sun­der­land’s Gary Row­ell in ac­tion for Sun­der­land against Charl­ton Ath­letic at Roker Park, 1978

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