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Renewal of hall is in prospect.

Byline: TONY HENDERSON Reporter @Hendrover

PLANS to restore a historic building in a popular city beauty spot have picked up speed.

Newcastle City Council has invited Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust to take forward proposals to redevelop the listed Banqueting Hall in Jesmond Dene.

The hall was built by inventor and industrialist Lord Armstrong to entertain his customers, who visited his factory from right around the world. In 1860 he commissioned architect John Dobson to design a banqueting hall, positioned a short distance from Lord Armstrong's then home at Jesmond Dene 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 first gather, and a gatehouse was built on Jesmond Dene Road by architect Norman Shaw.

Lord Armstrong gifted the banqueting hall and the dene to Newcastle in 1883-84, and the building was used as a rehearsal room for the Northern Sinfonia orchestra and for weddings and other functions.

But in 1977, as the hall deteriorated, the roof was removed for safety reasons and the building became a "controlled ruin".

In November the city council invited expressions of interest from interested parties in a community asset transfer of the Banqueting Hall complex.

Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT), which has just restored and reopened the St Hilda's Pit Head building in South Shields, submitted a formal response and following an assessment process it has been given the authority to continue to develop its proposals.

Trust manager Martin Hulse said: "The creation of the Parks Trust brings a focus to the role of the parks in the city and we look forward to presenting our detailed scheme to the council and Parks Trust in the near future.

"TWBPT has a proven track record in selecting the best examples of historic buildings and monuments at risk, and adaptively reusing them. Newcastle and the wider region has become a leading example internationally of how an area can regenerate itself, and the work of the trust has contributed to that success. " The trust has been selected as the community organisation which is capable of taking legal ownership of Jesmond Dene Banqueting Hall as a community asset transfer from Newcastle City Council.

"This will enable the trust to reanimate these important buildings. Ultimately, we intend to halt the portrayal of the building as a romantic ruin, replace the roof and return it to the beating heart of Jesmond Dene," said Martin.

The first phase of work would see the restoration of the lodge. The trust already has planning permission to use it for holiday lets, but is still considering options that include moving the trust's office to the Banqueting Hall complex.

Options for the wider complex must be based on a commercially viable scheme.

Martin Hulse at the old Banqueting Hall in Jesmond Dene.

PAUL NORRIS

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2018
Words:477
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