Trinity Chambers Renovations

Head of Trinity Chambers Toby Hedworth Q.C. has overseen the recent refurbishments of the exterior of the barristers Chambers, the Custom House prominently positioned on Newcastle’s Quayside. Commenting on the extensive renovations Toby said “As custodians of such a spectacular landmark on Newcastle’s Quayside, we were very excited to see the daily progress made by the contractors.” 

Built in the 18th Century, Trinity Chambers bought the Custom House in 2002 from HM Customs and Excise. As Toby Hedworth points out “we are only the second owners.” The barristers and support staff moved into the Custom House in 2004 after extensive renovations were carried out. As a Grade 2 star listed building the team at Trinity had to work closely with the contractors and Peter Derham, Tyne and Wear County Historic Buildings’ Officer. 

Given the listed status, as part of the initial renovations and subsequent rejuvenation, the distinct early 19th Century Royal Arms above the sandstone building main entrance were restored and repainted using the correct heraldic colours which included gold leaf embellishments. The most recent works involved redecorating the exterior including the window frames and rendered side walls. Extensive discussions took place involving members of staff from the planning department where a specific colour scheme was agreed, subsequently Listed Building Consent was granted and the works implemented. 

The region’s archives record that duty was collected in the port of Newcastle as early as the 13th Century; the present Custom House was built in 1766 replacing an earlier customs shed which was at the site of what is now the northern support of the Tyne Bridge. The Custom House was upgraded and extended in 1832 by Sidney Smirke, brother of the renowned Architect Sir Robert Smirke who built the British Museum. Brother Sidney designed the dome at the Museum. 

A catastrophic fire took hold in the area in 1854. Before and since that time there have been many small alleys leading up from the quayside. These alleys were called “chares”, from the Saxon word “cerre” meaning narrow place or turning in a lane leading to such names as Blue Anchor Chare, Dark Chare, Peppercorn Chare and of course Trinity Chare. 

Craig Wright of Wright Building Company Limited based in South Shields who won the renovation contract said “it has been a notable experience to work with Simon Stewart, OBE, Practice Director of Trinity Chambers. The Wright Building Company Limited successfully tendered for the proposed work and has fully project managed the external refurbishment including negotiations with Newcastle City Council Planning Department, the historic building officer and Abercrombies in the application of the colour scheme. This has resulted in the building being restored to its original majestic splendour.” 

As well as being a prominent feature on Newcastle’s Quayside, the Custom House is home to nearly 70 barristers and 30 support staff covering a wide range of practice areas including judicial review,agriculturecommercial , Chanceryemploymentfamily and ancillary reliefCourt of Protectionpersonal injurybusiness lawcrimeimmigrationregulatory and planning. Barristers receive instructions from solicitors and legal departments across the UK and act for Local Authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service, Police Authorities as well as Blue Chip Companies. Trinity was recognised in the leading legal directory Legal 500 2011 “Clients praise Trinity Chambers’ ‘excellence’’. 

Toby Hedworth said of the renovations “despite the difficult financial circumstances and the fact that it would be very easy to put off the renovations for another year or two, myself and the Members of Trinity all feel very passionate about the City of Newcastle and as custodians of The Custom House there was no question that we were committed to the work in order to maintain and enhance the building’s majesty for those working in it, those people who live in Newcastle and of course for Newcastle’s many and diverse visitors. It was also a pleasure to use local craftsmen in the process.”

Further details of the renovations are included in the Journal's recent article which can be found by clicking here.

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