Dunston, Tyne and Wear
Dunston was originally an independent village on the south bank of the River Tyne. It has now been absorbed into the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead in the English county of Tyne and Wear. Much of Dunston forms part of the inner Gateshead regeneration area. Dunston has a population of 18,326 according to the 2011 Census.
Dunston is now split into two distinct areas separated by the A1 dual carriageway. Much of the area south of the A1 is known as Dunston Hill.
To the west of Dunston is the site of Dunston Power Station, now demolished. The site is now home to Costco, with the MetroCentre (which is the second largest shopping and leisure centre in Britain) occupying the former site of the station's ash ponds. As of 2013, Go North East are constructing a new bus depot to replace their Sunderland Road and Winlaton depots on the eastern part of the power station site. Another Dunston landmark was the Derwent Tower, commonly known as the "Dunston Rocket", a tower block that was once the highest in Gateshead, which was designed by the Owen Luder Partnership and completed in 1973. It was finally demolished in 2012, having always proved unpopular with residents, and fallen into such a poor condition that Gateshead Council decided renovation costs would be prohibitive. Luder also designed the similarly maligned Trinity Centre Multi-Storey Car Park (now also demolished) in Gateshead town centre.
Dunston is particularly known for its wooden staithes, first opened in 1893 as a structure for loading coal from the North Durham coalfield onto ships. In the 1920s 140,000 tons of coal per week were loaded from the staithes, and they continued to be used until the 1970s. They were also a shipping point for coke produced at the nearby Norwood Coke Works, as well as pencil pitch manufactured at the Thomas Ness Tar Works using by-products from the Norwood plant and the Redheugh Gasworks. Throughout their working life, motive power for shunting wagons on the staithes and in their extensive sidings known as the Norwood Coal Yard came in the form of locomotives from Gateshead MPD. The staithes' output gradually declined with the contraction of the coal industry, and they were finally closed and partially dismantled in 1980. Now redundant, the railway lines leading to the staithes were lifted, finally allowing the demolition of several low bridges that had become a nuisance to bus operators by limiting the routes available to double-deckers in the area. For many years, the men who worked on the staithes, known as teemers (the men who released the coal from the wagons and operated the loading chutes and conveyors) and trimmers (who had the dangerous job of ensuring the stability of the colliers by levelling the load in their holds as they were filled), had their own room in the nearby Dunston Excelsior Club. For anyone not employed in the club or on the staithes, access to the room was strictly by invite only, and the staithesmen held a reputation for unceremoniously ejecting anyone who fell foul of this rule.
The staithes were restored and opened to the public as part of the Gateshead Garden Festival in 1990, following similar events in Liverpool (1984), Stoke-on-Trent (1986) and Glasgow (1988). The Garden Festival was divided into five zones, Norwood, Eslington, The Boulevard, Dunston and Riverside, spread over a large area of Dunston and the lower Team Valley formerly occupied by heavy industries. Though other parts of the Garden Festival site, such as Dunston (the site of the Norwood Coal Yard) Eslington (the site of the tar works) and Norwood (the site of the coke ovens) in the Team Valley, gained an immediate spur for regeneration, and The Boulevard was left as a green space, Riverside, which had been centred around the staithes and the site of the former gasworks, was derelict and inaccessible for the remainder of the 1990s.
In 2002, work began on a development of riverside apartments and houses designed by Wayne Hemingway. Known as Staiths South Bank, this development celebrates the area's heritage as well as improving the setting for the historic structure. In the early hours of 20 November 2003, a section of the staithes was destroyed by fire. As a result, access onto the Staithes themselves is not possible, but the structure can be viewed from the new riverside walkway constructed as part of the Staiths South Bank development. In 2005 Gateshead Council commissioned a study into possible options for the Staithes' restoration.
The Staithes suffered further fire damage in July 2010. Following the award of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £420,000 restoration of the structure is expected to begin in April 2014.
- SINE Project: Derwent Tower Archived March 20, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Damages bid over bombing arrests". The Northern Echo. 2003-01-20. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- Sitelines archaeology project: Dunston Staithes
- "Coal heritage goes up in flames" (from BBC News)
- "Firefighters tackle blaze at Dunston Staithes" (Chronicle Live)
- English-Football.org.uk: Paul Gascoigne
- Ray Hudson
- Harry Clasper