St James' Park

Episodes

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2015032420150824 (R4)

Our urban parks and gardens create green lanes and oases of open spaces within our towns and cities. They are also conduits for wildlife as well as for people. St James' Park in Newcastle upon Tyne does have lush green turf but it is less of an oasis and more of a battlefield because since 1892 it has been the home of Newcastle United football club, and so regularly pounds with the clamour of human voices. At these times its anything but tranquil! On the northern boundary is Leazes Park a formal Victorian park opened in 1873. In this programme, Chris was keen to record the changing soundscape across these two connected parks over the course of a single day, match day. The recordings begin at 3am in the city centre as revellers start to leave the night clubs and make their way home; many of them crossing Leazes Park. A trail of food cartons provide rich pickings for mice which in turn are preyed upon by the park's tawny owls and foxes. At 4am, a robin sings stimulated by the glow of the street light. The first light of the day brings joggers and then parents with children to the park, where their excited chatter mingles with the calls of mallards and coots on the lake. Over the next few hours the park and city are transformed as fans gather for the match. Many arrive at Newcastle Central Station where their enthusiastic and almost deafening chants, are punctuated by the growls and barks of police dogs. The fans are escorted to the stadium. Inside, the match is an orchestra of sound as the voices of the fans ring out with excitement and anticipation, despondency and joy until the final whistle is blown. After the match, the fans disperse, and then the real magpies, return to the park to their night roost; their wild sounds filling the air. Producer Sarah Blunt.