There are many possible uses for converted shipping containers, from homes and offices to hotels. But a popular feature appearing in various cities is a cluster of stalls operating out of a cluster of containers.
Examples of this have existed around the UK for years. Manchester has Hatch on Oxford Road with its array of food and craft stalls, while foodies can enjoy the various offerings to be found at Wapping Wharf in Bristol, or at DiSH in Oxford.
Newcastle is the latest place to go down this road. Tyneside was once famous for building ships, but while the area is no longer a major port, it has reinvented itself in various ways and has a vibrant city centre. Instead of ships laden with cargo, which had been arriving on the banks of the Tyne since it was at one end of Hadrian’s Wall, used containers will add to the attractions this month.
Known as Frate, the new venue has been the subject of a feature in the Newcastle Chronicle. It will be located behind Grey Street, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, adjacent to High Bridge.
Amid a townscape of grand Georgian buildings and a short walk from Grey’s Monument with its underground Metro station, the central location will provide an exciting array of food offerings.
These will include kebabs, mezze, tortilla wraps and even salads, plus fries, hot wings and grilled halloumi at BABS Newcastle. Alternatively, diners can try Pizza from Slice Boys. Both are independent local traders, a common feature of urban shipping container clusters.
Alongside this will be live music and DJs, plus big screens showing live sport, with the summer set to feature big events like Wimbledon and the Ashes. While the opening will be on a bank holiday weekend, there will be many more special occasions to follow, including cinema screenings, record fairs and vintage clothing sales. It will be open daily until 02.00.
The co-curator of Frate Rob Clarkson said: “We are thrilled to finally unveil Frate Newcastle next week and share this extraordinary concept with the people of the North East.”
It is certainly an exciting concept and all based around the potential of recycled shipping containers to be remodelled and brought into a new use in an established built-up area, where creating such a facility by other means could cost far more and take a lot longer to establish.
Indeed, as Newcastle follows the likes of Manchester and Bristol, the concept may go on being emulated in one city after another all across the country.
A rare case of such a project failing to work out occurred in Sheffield, where the Fargate scheme featuring eight containers flopped. It opened three months late last year after a series of problems and closed in January, with the city council admitting it needed “to learn lessons” from the misadventure.
Sheffield may have proved it is possible for a scheme to fail if it is run particularly badly, but in most cities, and hopefully soon Newcastle, such projects have proved a big success.