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Heritage at Risk in the North East

Find out more about Heritage at Risk in the North East, including our latest top 10 priority sites and recent grants. Follow the links for more about:

Securing the future of Dunston Staiths

Historic England in the North East has given a grant of £37,199 to Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust for repairs to this important monument to Tyne & Wear's industrial heritage.

The 526-metre long listed staiths, believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Built by the North Eastern Railway Company and opened in 1893 it was part of the Dunston Extension line, facilitating the export of coal. At peak working, in the 1920s, the staiths shipped an average of 140,000 tons of coal per week.

Rescuing Dunston Staiths for us all

The site has been on the Heritage At Risk register since 2004, following a fire which destroyed 8% of the structure. Two years ago Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund funded repairs to the first half of the structure, enabling it to be opened up to the public. An events programme last year included four food markets, lighting events and the Late Shows which have attracted thousands of visitors.

Plan a visit to Dunston Staiths

What will the grant pay for?

This latest grant from Historic England will enable the next phase of the project to begin. A design team will carry out a condition survey on the second half of the structure and produce a costed schedule of works that will be used to raise further funding to hopefully secure its future. The team involves a specialist firm who will investigate the structure from the river and via abseiling.

Follow us on Twitter @HE_NorthEast for updates on this and other special places that Historic England is bringing back into use.

Visit other grant-aided places

Find out which local heritage sites are in our top ten

Historic England has a list of priority sites in the North East and Tees Valley, where we will focus our resources to secure their future. We review this list every six months.

As of March 2017, our priority sites for the North East and Tees Valley are (in alphabetical order):

For more information, please contact Kate Wilson: 0191 269 12211

Interior of Church of our Lady Seaton Delaval, Northumberland
Church of our Lady Seaton Delaval, Northumberland © Historic England DP169763

Heritage at Risk Successes

Sockburn Hall off the register

Sockburn Hall is a Grade II* listed building that can be found at the southernmost point of County Durham, overlooking the River Tees.

The Hall was constructed in 1834 for Henry Collingwood Blackett in an ornate neo-Jacobean style using local sandstone. The main building comprises a square block of two storeys, surrounding a central hall and staircase, with the kitchens and service wing extending to the north.

The hall has been on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register since 1998. Having been left unoccupied for many years, it suffered from a lack of regular maintenance and fell into a state of disrepair.

Historic England and Darlington Borough Council worked with the family who previously owned the building to explore options for the repair and re-use of the building. However, they were unable to find the right solution. Consequently, Sockburn Hall was put on the market in 2015 and sold to a new owner.

The change of ownership enabled the hall to undergo extensive repairs. The new owner has worked with Historic England and Darlington Borough Council to transform the hall back into a family home, leading to its removal from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2017.

Sockburn Hall in warm sunlight.
The new owner of Sockburn Hall has worked with Historic England and Darlington Borough Council to transform the hall back into a family home, leading to its removal from the Heritage at Risk register in 2017 © Historic England

Bracken control volunteers

Historic England has been working with National Park volunteers to tackle the threat of bracken to archaeological sites. Bracken is one of the main threats to archaeological sites found in upland areas causing damage to the sites and obstructs their visibility.

Upland archaeology is important because it provides a unique record about how past communities used to live. Bracken causes extensive damage to archaeology due to the fast rate at which its roots can spread and cause damage to underground features. However, techniques to control bracken can also have a damaging effect so an appropriate balance needs to be found.

Historic England has been working with local landowners to test different bracken control methods, including chemical treatments, cutting, bashing and animal grazing. The research will review the effectiveness of each treatment and their potential impact on different types of archaeology.

One example of what can be achieved with proper control is Hart Heugh Hill in Northumberland, where the remains of a small Roman settlement were threatened by advancing bracken. These types of site are common across Northumberland but are particularly vulnerable to bracken damage.

Historic England has therefore been working with Northumberland National Park to train volunteers in identifying archaeological sites at risk and tackling the bracken issue. Their work has contributed in the removal of 11 sites from the Heritage at Risk Register this year.

To become a volunteer visit the Northumberland National Park website.

Rolling countryside with bracken in the foreground.
Bracken is one of the main threats to archaeological sites found in upland areas © Historic England

Added to the register

The Cooperage

The Cooperage (32 Close, Newcastle upon Tyne) is Grade II* listed and one of four heritage assets in the North East to be added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2017.

Built in the first half of the 16th century as a merchant’s house, it escaped the great quayside fire of 1854 and was later converted for commercial use including a grocers, coopers, restaurant and public house. The building has a sandstone ground floor and timber-framed upper floors that are jettied. Jettying means that the upper floors jut out beyond the floors below. This was a common building technique during the medieval period.

Newcastle’s quayside was once packed with timber framed buildings like the Cooperage, which is now one of the city’s most complete timber-framed buildings surviving from the late medieval period. Unfortunately, the building has stood empty since its closure in 2009 and has fallen into a state of disrepair due to a lack of maintenance. When buildings are left vacant they are at a greater risk of damage and decay.

Kate Wilson, Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Principal in the North East, said: “The Cooperage is a fantastic building that has sadly been left without the care it needs. Not only is it historically significant, but many people in the North East will have fond memories of when it was in use. On a quayside that is once again a vibrant commercial district of Newcastle, a new use needs to be found for the Cooperage if it is to survive”.

We’re calling on the public to cast their minds back and relive moments spent in the Cooperage. Do you have good memories of times spent there? Did you see a favourite band? Did you celebrate a special occasion? Tweet us your Cooperage memories @HE_NorthEast #HeritageatRisk or Enrich the List

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