Homeless History of Newcastle Joins the CRYSTLSD Gang

We are pleased to announce Homeless History of Newcastle as our latest client. 

The Homeless History of Newcastle project was devised by local historian and archivist Kristopher McKie who, together with museum curator David Wright, has been working with Crisis Skylight Newcastle to explore the history and put together a major public exhibition following a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to research the history of homelessness in Newcastle Upon Tyne. 

 Spanning from the Victorian period through to present day, the project culminates with ‘Missing Pieces’, a public exhibition showcasing the findings at Central LibraryNewcastle CathedralDiscovery Museum and Laing Art Gallery, and Bessie Surtees House.


The exhibition will focus both on the causes and consequences of homelessness, as well as experiences of and attitudes towards homelessness throughout history. The curators have taken great care to offer information and insight into alternatives to homelessness from the past through to present day, from the Victorian workhouses to national charities, such as Crisis, who campaign to bring an end to homelessness. 

Working with Crisis service members, Kris and David interrogated and investigated historical archives to inform the exhibition, exploring apparent gaps in our collective archives around the issue of homelessness, which seems to have been largely omitted. 

It is hoped that, by highlighting these gaps and encouraging visitors to think critically about Newcastle's history of homelessness, there can be more meaningful discussion around homelessness today, as well as around the attitudes to, and experiences of, homelessness in present-day Newcastle.


Earlier in the project, the Homeless History of Newcastle team led walking tours of Newcastle’s Quayside to members of the public. Using their archival evidence as a guide, they shared previously untold stories regarding homelessness in 19thcentury Newcastle Upon Tyne. The tours explored five stories that each offer a different perspective on homelessness in Victorian Newcastle. For those that missed the tours, more details into each of these stories will be included in the exhibition in February. 

In October 2018, the team hosted ‘History for Change’, a talk which celebrated radical local heritage projects which aim to change the way people think about local history. The event featured talks from projects such as Bam! SistahoodHeads & TalesWomen of Tyneside and more. It aimed to investigate history to ask questions about the present, provoke discussion about politics and society, bring communities together and challenge preconceptions about our shared past. The takeaways from this event have been used to inform the History of Homelessness in Newcastle exhibition. 

“We believe that a crisis as deeply rooted as homelessness cannot be viewed in isolation from its history. This exhibition aims to give a glimpse into this history and find out what it can tell us about homelessness, its causes and its effects on people, and where our attitudes and ideas about homelessness have come from.” - Kristopher McKie, Project Lead.

Through this exhibition, CRYSTLSD and Homeless History of Newcastle hope to shed light on the current situation regarding homelessness in this country. It is estimated that up to 300,000 people in Britain are now homeless – to put it in perspective, that's more than the population of Newcastle. Since 2010, rough sleeping has risen by 169%.

“As soon as we started talking to the team involved in Missing Pieces, we knew it was exactly the kind of project we would be keen to be a part of,” comments project lead for CRYSTLSD, Lauren Watson, "we are so proud to be supporting the team at Homeless History of Newcastle to highlight the homelessness crisis, and to help the public understand the history and context behind this issue.”