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The History of Baltic 1858 - 1982


Gateshead Quays 1956
Gateshead Quays Circa 1956

The BALTIC site, on the South bank of the river Tyne was occupied from 1858 until 1889/90 by The Gateshead Iron Works (Hawks, Crawshay, & Sons, Iron and Steel Manufacturing and Engineers, Boiler Makers and Bridge Builder), famous for their work on the High Level Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne. The Iron Works remained on the site until 1889-1990.

Building the Baltic

The site lay derelict until foundation work for the Baltic Flour Mills began in the late 1930s. The Baltic Flour Mills was built for Joseph Rank Limited beside the River Tyne in Gateshead in 1950. It was dual purpose factory for the production of flour and animal feed.
Hundreds of people were employed there until it closed in November 1982. Many were local, though some came to Gateshead specially to work at the Baltic.
The silo building is the only remaining part of the Baltic factory.  It was designed by:

  • civil engineers Mouchel & Partners;
  • and developed by the architects Gelder & Kitchen of Hull.

The foundations of the building went up before The Second World War but the project was shelved until 1948.

The contractor was Thomas Thornton of Liverpool and their foreman was Joe Wilkinson. The job was 24 hours a day, very unusual in construction at the time, with two shifts of 12 hours. The construction over-ran on time, though did not exceed the budget.

Three men died during the contrsuction of the Baltic when a freak gust of wind blew down steel shuttering.


Contact Us

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays
South Shore Road
Tel: 0191 478 1810

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday 10am - 6pm
(Except Tuesday 10.30-am-6pm)