Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Towers Revamp Scales Heights

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Towers Revamp Scales Heights

Article excerpt

Byline: By Linda Richards

These pictures show how a Gothic fairytale castle which has lain derelict for decades has been restored to its former glory.

In a pounds 3m revamp, Saltwell Towers in Gateshead's Saltwell Park has been given a dramatic makeover to turn it into a visitor centre.

For years the building, which dates back to 1864, has been a crumbling eyesore.

Many ideas for its future use have been suggested, only to be shelved as the site slid into decline.

But Gateshead Council, which has always seen its potential, has now given it a new lease of life.

One of the pictures show park manager Steve Palmer testing out the new IT facilities under the watchful eye of stained-glass manufacturer William Wailes, who built the towers and its ornamental gardens.

Inside the Grade II-listed building can be found a cafe, toilets and an exhibition on the park's history.

Also pictured is a stunning new artwork created by local artist Bridget Jones which links the towers' past with the present.

Her modern glass-panelled stairway sets off the contemporary interior of the building, which was being officially unveiled today.

Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry and Mayor Pat Ronan, accompanied by a harpist and a string quartet, were being transported in a grand Victorian-style horse and carriage to the park to reopen the magnificent mansion.

Coun Henry was due to unveil a restored 1845 portrait of William Wailes, to the delight of Wailes's great-great-grandson Peter Rankine Defty and his great-great-great granddaughter Maria Dorman, who were among the guests of honour.

Also invited to the ceremony were local people who featured in a 1944 film, Holidays at Home, made in Saltwell Park.

The opening is the first stage of a pounds 9.6m scheme to restore the park and Bridget's work is expected to be a major focal point.

It features a curved glass screen which forms the core of the building, rising from the floor of the ground level to the ceiling of the first floor. On the inside of the curve, the glass is acid-etched, with leaf stalks of ash and spikes of willow herb. …

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