Gateshead Garden Festival

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Butterfly display and monorail track
View of the site from Dunston staithes
Model tug display

The Gateshead Garden Festival was the fourth of the United Kingdom's five National Garden Festivals. Held between May and October 1990, in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, it lasted 157 days, and received over three million visitors.[1] Attractions included public art displays, a Ferris wheel, and dance, music, theatre and sporting events.[1] The site comprised four areas: Norwood, Riverside, Dunston and Eslington Park,[2] and several modes of transport were provided around the site: a monorail which ran between Norwood and Eslington, a narrow gauge steam railway between Dunston and Redheugh, and a road train which covered the entire site. A ferry across the River Tyne, between Dunston Staithes and Newcastle Quayside, was also provided.[1]

The festival site was created over a two-year period, on 200 acres (0.81 km2) of derelict land, previously the site of a gasworks, a coal depot and a coking plant.[3] The cost of reclaiming and redeveloping the land was around £37 million.[1] The Evening Chronicle reported: "Around 50,000 cubic metres of discarded coal and coke over 25 acres was removed and the area capped with layers of limestone. […] Nearly two million trees and shrubs and 1.2m bulbs were planted. Enough turf was laid to cover 1,000 domestic lawns and three tonnes of grass seed was sown. Five thousand previously unemployed people were trained for roles in the festival."[2]After the festival ended, much of the site was replaced by housing.[1]

Reflecting on the Festival's 25th anniversary in 2015, the Evening Chronicle noted: "It [is] also held to have kick started a process which resulted in the Baltic centre, Sage Gateshead and the Millennium Bridge".[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Life of the Dunston Staiths" (PDF). George Wimpey. 2007-05-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  2. ^ a b c Henderson, Tony (13 May 2015). "Gateshead National Garden Festival: 25 years since the event on Tyneside". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle upon Tyne. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Staiths South Bank – Design process". Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. Archived from the original on 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 

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