Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Happy End to a Sad Tale as Historic Hall Is Given a Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Happy End to a Sad Tale as Historic Hall Is Given a Future

Article excerpt


INVENTOR and industrialist Lord Armstrong was never one to skimp. His Tyneside factory and shipyard empire was on a grand scale, as was his eventual home at Cragside in Northumberland.

So when it came to entertaining his customers, who visited from around the world, Lord Armstrong was true to form.

In 1860 he commissioned architect John Dobson to design a banqueting hall in Jesmond Dene in Newcastle.

It was positioned a short distance from Lord Armstrong's home at Jesmond Dean House, with the two being connected, it is believed, by a tunnel.

In 1869-70 an ornate reception room was added to the hall, where guests would rst gather, and a gatehouse was built on Jesmond Dene Road by architect Norman Shaw who went on to design Cragside.

Lord Armstrong gifted the banqueting hall and the dene to Newcastle in 1883-84, But in 1977, as the hall deteriorated, the roof was taken o'for safety reasons and the building became a "controlled ruin".

Now a planning bid has been lodged with the city council by Tyne Wear Building Preservation Trust for a PS3m scheme which would give the hall complex a new future.

It would be an addition to the trust's list of achievements, which includes the restoration of Alderman Fenwick's House in Pilgrim Street in Newcastle and the Quayside building which is now the House of Tides restaurant.

Plans for the dene project include a new roof for the banqueting hall to provide a covered space for events such as markets, craft fairs, theatrical and music performances.

e reception room, with its decorative plasterwork, would be restored.

e only use of part of the buildings at present is as artists' studios, and similar new facilities would be provided as well as four new holiday apartments.

e empty gatehouse would be converted into two more holiday lets, which together would generate income to maintain the groups of buildings. A lift would improve accessibility to the site from Jesmond Dene Road.

e completion of the scheme would see the buildings removed from English Heritage's At Risk register.

Having been gifted the buildings, the city council cannot sell them but maintenance is problematic. …

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