Meadow Well riots

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The Meadow Well riots were a series of violent protests that took place on 9 September 1991 on the Meadow Well council estate, east of Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The bulk of the Meadow Well Estate was built in the 1930s to accommodate low income residents who were displaced by slum clearances in nearby North Shields. It was originally called The Ridges but in 1968 the local authority changed its name to Meadow Well in an attempt to improve the image of the already dilapidated estate, which was already in decline just 30 years after being built. The estate was considered a no go area for many non-residents and police alike before the riots occurred.[1]

The riots themselves were triggered by the deaths of two local youths, Dale Robson and Colin Atkins, who were killed when the stolen car they were fleeing from police in crashed. Friends of the pair asserted on local news broadcasts that their deaths were caused by the police forcing their vehicle from the road. Ostensibly in response to such reports of police brutality, locals began looting shops on the estate and setting buildings on fire. These included a youth centre, a fish and chip shop, and an electricity sub-station, as well as extensive vandalism to numerous buildings and vehicles.

Police and fire crews which attended the scene were pelted with bricks. It was estimated that at its height 400 people were involved. 37 people were arrested, including one who was gaoled for four and a half years.

A documentary on this was made by Swingbridge Video for Channel 4 entitled 'An English Estate' this can be viewed on YouTube

Since the riots, £66 million has been spent on regenerating the estate. Around 750 properties have been demolished and new houses have been built. A new community centre, health centre, and police station have been established.

The Cedarwood Trust has had a positive impact upon the local community, working exclusively on the Meadow Well Estate since its founding in 1980, and having a major role in the re-building of the community. The Cedarwood Trust operates from a small centre in the middle of the Estate, in an area regarded as a local "hot spot" for conflict.

Another community centre is run by a community-led charity, Meadow Well-Connected, which was set up in 1993 to enable and support the residents of the Meadow Well and the surrounding area. They aim to give local people new skills and confidence by offering them training, support and volunteering opportunities.


  1. ^ Evening Chronicle, 15 July 2006.

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