The Dunston Staithes in Gateshead played a crucial role in the transport of millions of tons of coal.In one year alone 5.5m tonnes of coal was shipped from Gateshead.
The wooden staithes was closed in 1980 and abandoned with the demise of the coal industry and have since fallen victim to vandalism and two fires. The 130-year-old staithes was built by the North Eastern Railway at a cost of £210,000 and is thought to be the largest timber structure in Britain.
‘Dunston Staiths were built by the North Eastern Railway in two stages; the first staith with three berths was opened in 1893. A second similar staith was opened in 1903, immediately to the south, and a basin dug out of the riverbank to service it. There are six berths, and loading can be carried out at any state of the tide; three electric conveyors and twelve gravity spouts. Record yearly shipment was 5½ million tonnes. The second set of staiths was taken down to the top of the piles in the 1970s and then further dismantled in the 1980s. However, the majority of the structure survived intact and was restored for the Gateshead National Garden Festival in 1990.
Dunston Staithes are currently being restored by the Tyne and Wear Buildings Preservation Trust, restoration of the Grade II-listed timber structure on the River Tyne began in April 2014. Dunston Staithes received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £420,000 in December 2013. It is also hoped that the Staithes will open to the public intermittently.