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Back lane geography: in praise of worlds behind

Nieuwenhuis, Marijn

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‘Gateshead’, the Tory playwright Samuel Johnson said, is ‘the dirty back lane leading to Newcastle’. What his derogatory dialectic misses is the significance of the back lane as a place in and of itself. Although not written about much, at least not in geography, I believe that these streets are important places to understand neighbourhoods and communities in the Northeast of England. Without the lives and places of the back lane a Northern town is only nominally northern. Sticking to the limitations imposed by the COVID lockdown restrictions at the time of writing, which asked people to remain indoors whenever possible, I chose to travel and explore the significance of these streets digitally. Using both autoethnographic reflections from memories of walking in these streets and Google Street View, I explore the hidden geographies of back lanes in Bensham, a neighbourhood of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, where I live.


Nieuwenhuis, M. (in press). Back lane geography: in praise of worlds behind. cultural geographies,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 14, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 14, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2023
Journal Cultural Geographies
Print ISSN 1474-4740
Electronic ISSN 1477-0881
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed


Published Journal Article (902 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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