Dunston Staiths, on the River Tyne, is believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe. It is a Scheduled Monument, Grade II listed and is owned by registered charity Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT).
Opened in 1893 by the North East Railway Company, it was built to allow large quantities of coal arriving by rail from the Durham Coalfields to be loaded directly onto waiting colliers (coal ships) ready for the onward journey to customers in London and abroad. At the coal industry's peak around 5.5 million tons of coal was moved this way each year.
As the coal industry declined during the latter part of last century, so too did Dunston Staiths, eventually falling into serious disrepair. Some reprieve came from the National Garden Festival held in Gateshead in 1990, which saw extensive restoration work carried out, with the Staiths taking a leading role as a key installation with performance space and an art gallery.
Sadly, the landmark structure's luck didn't hold. A serious fire in 2003 inflicted extensive damage putting the Staiths on Historic Englands 'At Risk Register'. Fortunately, TWBPT succeeded in raising the funds required to kick start the ongoing restoration which has seen it transformed into an exciting and sustainable visitor attraction.
Our work is supported by a strong Volunteers Group, Staiths Friends. You can find out more about the Staiths and opportunities to get involved yourself by clicking the button below.
Ecologically, the Tyne is considered to be the third most important tidal area in the North East. When dredging stopped, the lagoon silted up rapidly to create mudflats providing an important feeding area for wintering and migrant wading birds. The detoxification of the two rivers has encouraged the establishment of increasingly interesting natural habitats around the Staiths, including an important Saltmarsh Garden, a rare resource in the urban environment and of significant conservation interest.
The Staiths structure currently provides an undisturbed roosting area for a range of bird species including grey heron, lapwing and redshank. Otters, an internationally protected species, also use the Staiths, Saltmarsh and adjoining areas of the Rivers Team and Tyne.
Dunston Staiths is included within two nature conservation designations, the River Tyne Tidal Mud Local Wildlife Site and the River Team Saltmarsh Local Wildlife Site.
For the 2017 Opening Season (25 March - 30 September) Dunston Staiths opens on:
Wednesdays 10am - 7pm
Saturdays 10am - 5pm
Sundays 10am - 5pm
Dunston Staiths also opens for Bank Holidays, some evening sunsets, special events and for guided walks and talks.
TWBPT is supported by Staiths Friends in opening the structure to the public. Key holders are local residents who volunteer their time to the project.
We aim to open Staiths as advertised, but there may be occasions when this is not possible.
To find out about becoming a Staiths Friend, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your support could enable opening times to be extended in future.
Please note that Dunston Staiths may be closed in high winds.
THE RESTORATION PROJECT
TWBPT has devised an activity plan which, supported by the very active Staiths Friends group, is reconnecting the Staiths and Saltmarsh Gardens to the local area. In particular the plan is developing awareness and understanding of its significance, giving the Staiths a long term future through interpretation, events, activities and learning programmes.
Phase One of the restoration 2014-15, has enabled the partial re opening of the Staiths West End during the summer months, giving people the chance to experience its unique pier like perspective of the river and urban surroundings.
Funders and supporters of the project include: Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England (English Heritage), Gateshead Council, Durham Wildlife Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Taylor Wimpey, Sir James Knott Trust and LEAF.
If you would like to help this very worthwhile project, perhaps as a volunteer or by making a donation or even by becoming a member of TBWT, you can find all about that by pressing the button below
Dunston Staiths is on the south bank of the River Tyne at Dunston, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.
There is a car park at the west end on Staiths Road, NE11 9DR. (near The Excelsior Club).
For bus and train times http://www.travelinenortheast.info