Ground-breaking work has officially begun to build Newcastle United Foundation’s world class community facility, NUCASTLE powered by Newcastle Building Society. 

Spades have struck ground on the site of the former Murray House Recreational Centre in Newcastle’s West End, demolishing the disused building to create a community hub championing excellence in education, employment, and physical and mental wellbeing. 

The award-winning Robertson Construction Group is delivering the project, transforming the area into a landmark venue to once again serve thousands of children, young people, adults and elderly residents across the North East. 

West End residents, Newcastle United Foundation staff and participants and former members of the Murray House Recreational Centre came together to celebrate breaking ground on site. 

Newcastle United hero and Foundation Patron Shola Ameobi was among the group – recalling childhood memories playing football at Murray House and sharing his hopes for the future of the area. 

He said: “I grew up here with my family in the West End and Murray House is where I would play football and meet friends as a kid. 

 “I have some great memories of the place and back then it was absolutely at the heart of the community – it was a place everyone felt happy and safe. 

“Sadly, it all fell into disrepair and the community here have missed out on access to somewhere they can meet, play, learn and focus on their futures. 

“It is so important we bring this area back to life and I am incredibly proud to be part of the Foundation and its vision of creating a safe, innovative and inclusive space for residents of all ages to achieve their potential.” 

More than 120 members of staff at the Foundation will use the new facility as their office, which integrates seamlessly into community space including a spectacular 4G rooftop pitch offering views of St. James’ Park. 

Robertson will also construct four digital learning suites, specialist STEM classroom, high-tech digital hub, smart fitness suite, sports hall and accessible changing areas, event and meeting spaces, expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors annually. 

The centre complements the Foundation’s ongoing outreach work and will also launch the charity’s NU Futures programme – an initiative supporting 5,800 disadvantaged young people each year from across the North of Tyne area to engage with education, skills and careers activities. 

Steve Beharall, Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: “This is an important day in the Foundation’s history and one we are honoured to share with the city and the wider region. 

“NUCASTLE is our opportunity to create a legacy and to continue building up North East communities with life-changing opportunities through personal development, education, recreation, and mentorship. 

“Murray House was first built to provide training opportunities for men and boys after shipbuilding declined in the 1930s and sadly, we know our region has been among the hardest-hit by the many impacts of COVID-19.  

“Unemployment rates amount our young people are now double the national average in the North of Tyne area. 

“We pledge to make a difference in their lives by equipping with the skills and facilities they need to become the next generation of high-skilled workers through our NU Futures programme.” 

Newcastle United Foundation – the official charity arm of the Magpies – collected the keys to the former recreational centre in spring 2019, connecting with a number of regional and national stakeholders who have pledged millions of pounds in support of the major redevelopment. 

Garry Hope, regional managing director, Robertson Construction, said: “As the Foundation’s contractor of choice for delivery, we will provide a first-class building that will assist the Foundation in carrying out the excellent work they already do. 

“Community legacy is incredibly important to Robertson and we look forward to engaging with the community to assist the Foundation in their work as the project progresses  

“Marking the start on site is a key moment for all involved, and we are delighted to get the project under way.”  

NUCASTLE is expected to open its doors in March 2022 and was made possible by the following investors: 

North of Tyne Combined Authority, Newcastle Building Society, Banks Community Fund, The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, The Clothworkers Foundation, The Crispa (Richard Cahn) Charitable Trust, Football Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Harrison Centre for Social Mobility, The John Horseman Trust, Joseph Strong Frazer Trust, Liontrust, McArdle Family, National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund, Newcastle College, North East LEP, Northern Powerhouse, Northstar Foundation, People’s Postcode Lottery, Reece Foundation, Robertson, R W Mann Trust, Sir Graham Wylie Foundation, Sir James Knott Trust, Social Investment Business, Tony Blair Sports Foundation, UEFA Foundation, Whitley Bay Junior Football Club, Your Homes Newcastle 

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