The Oxford Galleries dance hall on Newcastle’s New Bridge Street opened in 1925 and was one of the most popular venues of its time. Over the years it went through many reincarnations and was known to generations of dancers and partygoers as Tiffany’s, Ikon, Ritzy’s and Liquid Envy.
A new National Lottery funded project is aiming to collect people’s memories of this iconic building, resulting in the production of a book called Meet Me At The Oxford.
Alex Henry, Founder of digital storytelling organisation Curiosity Creative CIC, explains: “The Oxford Galleries building has played a central role in many people’s social lives over the years. We know that in the 1920s and 30s it was the home of popular tea dances; in the 1950s people queued around the block to get into the legendary New Year’s Eve parties; and in the 1990s and 2000s, it was an unmissable part of Newcastle’s club scene.
“Now we want to collect people’s stories, photographs and memories of this iconic building which has been such an important part of the city’s history.”
The Oxford Galleries opened its doors in 1925 and immediately became a popular venue to go to for an evening of dancing and entertainment. Dances such as the Charleston were performed and the venue was home to a variety of musicians who took up residency there like Percy Bush and the London Aeolian Band in the 1920s, and Peter Fielding and his band in the 1930s.
The ballroom’s reputation carried its popularity through into the 1950s and 1960s and then later on in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when the venue was reincarnated as a series of popular nightclubs including Tiffany’s, Ikon and Liquid Envy.
In 2017, the building was converted into student accommodation with only its listed frontage remaining.
Alex Henry added: “The city lost an important piece of its history when the Oxford Galleries was demolished and we want to preserve a piece of its heritage through this project.
“As well as producing a book, we’ll be working with people to record tales of The Oxford in the form of short digital stories which will be available to watch online. I’m looking forward to hearing all sorts of anecdotes about memorable nights with friends and hopefully some stories of romance as well!”
People are invited to share their photographs and memories of the building via social media at @Cur_Creative on Twitter, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CuriosityCreativeLtd, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best submissions will be included in the Meet Me at The Oxford book, which will be published in 2019.
The Meet Me At The Oxford project is supported by National Lottery players through a £9,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).