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Historic environment projects

Conservation led projects help to protect and enhance Gateshead's legacy of historic buildings and areas. Projects such as the Restoration of Saltwell Park, Repair and Conservation of the High Level Bridge and the repair and reuse of Black Fell Hauler House have won highly acclaimed National and European Awards in a number of fields.

Current projects

The Coatsworth Conservation Area Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) aims to transform Coatsworth Road and provide enjoyment and improved learning opportunities for the local community.

Completed projects

Restoration of Saltwell Park

Saltwell Park is a grade II registered historic park and garden, which lies within and is the focal point of the Saltwell Conservation Area. 

The park opened in 1876 to provide a haven of peace and tranquillity and was originally named the People's Park. The park is centred on the former private mansion, Saltwell Towers (grade II) and its landscaped gardens designed by William Wailes over the period 1850-1862. William Wailes is famous for producing stained glass seen through churches in England.

The restoration of the park, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was completed in 2005. The scheme involved the a staggering 30,000 new trees and shrubs, 100 new seats, the restoration of Saltwell Towers and the maze; and various shelters and pavilions including the Almond Pavilion.

The park has since won over 10 awards including Civic Trust Park of the Year (2006), Britain's Best Park (2005), Civic Building of the Year for Saltwell Towers (2005) and the RICS Northern Region Building Conservation Gold Award in 2005.

Repair and conservation of the High Level Bridge

The High Level Bridge is an iconic Grade I Listed Building which spans the River Tyne between Gateshead and Newcastle. The road and rail bridge is often described as being "one of the finest pieces of architectural ironwork in the world" and "the best example of a tied-arch construction".

Robert Stephenson designed and constructed the bridge for the York, Newcastle and Berwick railway Company between 1846 and 1849. The Grade I listed status of the bridge reflects its national architectural, engineering, historic and cultural significance. The bridge is a two-tier structure, formed from cast iron arches with decks suspended from wrought iron hangers and is supported on sandstone ashlar piers. The 412m long, six-span High Level Bridge now carries two railway lines, road traffic, and cyclists and pedestrians, across the River Tyne in the heart of Newcastle City Centre.

The bridge is one of Network Rail's 'Major Structures' and provides a strategic turning loop on the East Coast Mainline. An inspection and assessment by consultant Mott MacDonald on behalf of Network Rail found many elements of the bridge in need of repair and strengthening, and in 2006 principle contractor May Gurney embarked on developing a major conservation project of informed strengthening and refurbishment to extend the life expectancy of the bridge.

The Bridge was reopened to the public on 30 May 2008 after a £42m contract which included:

  • Complete replacement of the suspended road deck
  • Sympathetic installation of an alternative load path to 'fatigued' cast iron girders
  • Selective replacement of corroded sections of original wrought iron suspension hangers
  • 'Like for like' replacement of all steel cross girders
  • New drainage and deck waterproofing, thereby enhancing asset sustainability
  • Installation of vehicle impact protection to safeguard rail traffic
  • Improved inspection and maintenance facilities
  • Restoration and electrification of the original character defining lamp standards
  • Extensive metalwork repairs
  • Research into the fatigue performance of Cast Iron (Winner of the 2007 ICE Historic Bridge & Infrastructure Award)
  • Complete repaint of the structure based on architectural paint analysis to re-introduce the original colour of the Bridge

The scheme won a number of awards in different fields, including the 2009 Europa Nostra Grand Prize in Conservation.