Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Could the Fading Jewel of Jesmond Dene Have a Brighter Future?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Could the Fading Jewel of Jesmond Dene Have a Brighter Future?

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Reporter

AFRESH move has been made to rescue heritage buildings set in a city beauty spot.

In 1860 industrialist and inventor Sir William - later Lord - Armstrong commissioned architect John Dobson to design a banqueting hall in what is now Jesmond Dene in Newcastle in which to entertain his visitors.

Now, Newcastle City Council is launching a drive to preserve and develop the deteriorating, roofless hall and lodge.

The hall was built near Sir William's home of Jesmond Dean on Jesmond Dene Road.

In 1870 it was extended by architect Norman Shaw, who designed a lodge adjoining the hall and who also worked on Sir William's home at Cragside, in Northumberland.

The properties were gifted to the people of Newcastle in 1883 by Sir William, with the deed stating they should be used for lectures, recitals, concerts, banquets and meetings under the themes of the arts, literature, science or education.

Now the council is asking for expressions of interest from businesses, groups and organisations, who might have a range of exciting ideas to help refurbish the buildings - but in keeping with the wishes of Sir William.

The hall originally housed paintings, sculptures, and even a waterpowered organ. Coun Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture and communities at Newcastle City Council, said: "Jesmond Dene banqueting hall and lodge are etched into the heritage of the city as widely respected examples of classical Victorian architecture.

"This is a rare and exciting opportunity to breathe new life into the much-loved buildings and help to secure their future whilst remaining true to their original ideology and purpose.

"We're committed to this original purpose. It was Sir William Arm-strong's wish that the park and its buildings serve the city, that they should be places to facilitate art and creativity and to empower people with knowledge and education. …

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