Saltwell Park

Monday, June 8, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Local Interest, The Pickards

Sometimes there’s things about my local area and/or my local authority that I am a bit ashamed of. Sometimes there’s things about my local area and/or my local authority that I am proud of. Saltwell Park represents both of these, displaced somewhat in time.

When I was studying for my GCSEs, I did a project on Saltwell Park, looking at how much litter, dog shit and graffiti there was at the park. Although I have got a feeling that this wasn’t the precise terminology that I used. This project looked at twenty sites around the park, and assessed how many dog turds there were within 5m of a particular spot, how many items of litter there were, and how many pieces of graffiti there were.

Now the study wasn’t perfect for a few reasons, a couple of which I’ll explain here:-

  • If I encountered a turd, I wasn’t going to examine it closely to determine whether it was from a dog or some other similar animal
  • I did not actually sample 20 sites. I sampled about 14, got bored and then made up the rest of the results

But it did illustrate one major point. Saltwell Park as it was then (around 1990), was a pretty horrible place. Sure, it still had children’s play areas and a boating lake, but it did also have broken glass, dog shit and litter all over the place, lots of empty lager cans, graffiti, and it wasn’t somewhere you’d particularly feel comfortable in — or even safe if you’d gone by yourself.

Saltwell Towers (flickr)

But Saltwell Park now is a thing of beauty.

As you come in from the new car park area, you walk through the Grove area, which contain’s the park’s bandstand, and then emerge through a stone archway into the area called ‘South Park’, where Saltwell Towers dominates the view.

Saltwell Towers was built by William Wailes in the 19th Century as his own private estate. It was occupied by him until his death in 1881, and after that it served various purposes, including a World War I military hospital (1916-1920) and the park museum until in 1970 it was declared unsafe.

As a child, that’s how I remember it. Dark, brooding, decaying, fenced off and covered by scaffolding. Hardly something that would make the park seem welcoming. By 2005, though, Saltwell Park had received a £10 million restoration; Saltwell Towers was restored, CCTV was installed, and the park was nice, clean and safe. Somewhere you’d enjoy bringing the children again.

So we did. We’d been out for lunch at the Imperial Chinese Restaurant, Low Fell (lovely place, if you’re in the vicinity, do go, and tell them we sent ya), and popped along to Saltwell Park for a walk about with the kids.

Saltwell Dene Waterfall (flickr)

After walking past the towers, we walked down to the bottom of the Dene, with a view of the pretty little trickling waterfall. If I recall correctly, it’s not exactly natural any more — water is pumped from the pool at the bottom back to the top, but the effect is no less pretty for any of that.

This is also the area where the salt well was located, from which the area and the park obtained their names.

SWP as the Saltwell Dene Poseur (flickr)

Walking back up the side of the Dene, we took the opportunity to take a few photographs. One of them was more striking than the others. When I asked my three year old to stand still while I took a picture, I simply meant, “stop walking for a moment”. He obviously interpreted this as “strike a bizarre pose as if you were playing musical statues”.

Oh well, at least he was enjoying himself!

From there, we went onto the play areas (they have separate sections for over- and and under-eights), which are simply great for the kids. They’ve got all sorts of different equipment, with that kind of semi-spongy surface to reduce the risk of injuries is kids fall off. It’s simply a stunning park now.

And of course the landscaping and the restoration works to other parts of the park — the Broadwalk, the Northern Fields, the Almond Pavilion, the Octagonal Garden and the Maze (although it will take some time for the bushes in the maze to grow to their required height) — is just as good. There’s also a park map (pdf) if you feel that will help your understanding. I feel that I can safely say that while restoring the park cost £10 million (partly paid for by the Heritgage Lottery Fund) was money well spent.

Saltwell Baby Geese (flickr)

Over by the boating lake we get to see the swans, ducks and geese. Both the swans and the geese had younglings with them — they were still covered in the downy sort of feathers as opposed to the more traditional “feathery” sort. Indeed, if I recall correctly, they were described by one of us (I’ll save myself the embarrassment by not revealing it was me) they were described as “all fluffily instead of feathery”.

On the way back we called into the beautifully restored Saltwell Towers for what, it must be said, was a truly awful cup of coffee, but that wasn’t sufficient to spoil a lovely pleasant afternoon stroll through a lovely pleasant park.

Thank you again to those involved in restoring it. You’ve turned the run down and rather scabrous park of my youth into something I am delighted is part of my Gateshead. It truly is a park to be proud of.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

24 Comments to Saltwell Park

  1. Mike says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I remember Saltwell Park, pre 1987, as a decent place. I’ve got fond memories. Always loved the animal area, and the slides and swings had a cool bouncy floor beneath them. Our pet geese went to live there on the lake too. and oh! the maze – I’d forgotten all about that. A really nice park. I never thought otherwise – so a bit of a surprise to hear how much it had degenreated in such a short space of time…
    Of course my sister got flashed at there when she was about nine, but that was a one off (as far as I know!).

  2. Gary Miller says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Aaah..happy memories from my childhood! I remember living just off Askew Road (doesn’t exist anymore) prior to 1962 when we moved up to the ‘new’ Leam Lane Estate.

    I vividly remember many happy family picnics; walks; boating and well…everything.

    I’ve since found out that my father proposed to my mother in the park!

    Next time I’m home, I really must pay it a return visit!

    Thanks Jack!

  3. JackP says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    …Askew Road? Did you mean this Askew Road? If so, then rumours of its demise would appear to have been exaggerated…

  4. Gary Miller says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 10:59 am looks right, but there are a couple of roads missing. We used to live above the Post Office at the junction of Askew Road and Davison Street – which I can’t see. I remember a shop called ‘The Tea Company’ (my Gran used to work there and live above it) and ‘The Askew Arms’ where my Dad used to drink.

    Last I heard, the streets were demolished to make way for St Cuthbert’s Village (?). Which I believe was, in turn, demolished?

    Looong time since I’ve been in those parts!

  5. Steve Whateley says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Is this Saltwell Park in the Midlands?

  6. JackP says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Nope, it’s in the North East (Gateshead).

  7. Mike says:

    June 12th, 2009 at 12:20 am

    @Gary: were we seperated at birth?
    I also lived on the Leam Lane estate and had my father propose to my mother in Saltwell Park.

    Small world. ;)

  8. Gary Miller says:

    June 12th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    @Mike: Wow! Are you losing your hair, wear glasses and have a beard too! :) Some coincidence eh?

  9. garment daily business reports says:

    July 28th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  10. test says:

    September 19th, 2011 at 9:20 pm


    [...]If you are conscious when working at your projects you can be a lot more successful than if you have no knowledge..[...]…

  11. plastic surgery internet marketing says:

    November 4th, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Everything You Have To Know About Plastic Surgery Marketing…

    [...]This is a new website on this topic. You can see more about it on the site[...]…

  12. dining solutions direct says:

    November 8th, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Where To Find Dining Solutions Direct…

    …Having good skills you can successfully do at many more jobs while making less mistakes doing it.[...]…

  13. house prices information says:

    November 28th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Looking For House Prices…

    [...]To have good skills you can be good at many more things while making less mistakes doing it..[...]…

  14. Single Men's Vacations says:

    December 18th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    How To Find Good Places to Meet Ladies…

    [...]I’m not certain that you are entirely right, but I can agree with almost all of it. This undoubtedly includes a large amount of people agreeing with.[...]…

  15. lunette tag heuer says:

    December 23rd, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    What Is Lunette Tag Heuer…

    [...]Are you unquestionably certain this is the correct facts. I head one thing else. I’ll check out your web page inside the future.[...]…

  16. challenge coins says:

    January 2nd, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    There Are Many Hobbies You Can Enjoy…

    [...]Are you unquestionably confident this is the appropriate information and facts. I head something else. Hold up using the very good writing.[...]…

  17. woman perfume says:

    February 4th, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Does Smell Matter?…

    …When you are aware what is your job you will be more successful than when you have no ideas…..

  18. quick and easy says:

    February 4th, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    quick and easy…

    [...]I do believe all the ideas you’ve offered on your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for starters. Could you please prolong them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.[...]…

  19. Tour Packages in India says:

    February 7th, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    India Tour Packages…

    [...]Writing about a subject like this really is rather difficult. I’ve just had yet another strategy pop into my mind[...]…

  20. seminar says:

    March 30th, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Paranormal Activity Investigation…

    [...]This is really cool. It is fantastic to understand a lot of people still care about this[...]…

  21. 2012 Spring Shoes says:

    April 11th, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Spring Shoes Are Coming…

    [...]It’s wonderful that individuals nonetheless know quite a bit about thing like that. I will verify your web-site within the long term.[...]…

  22. dallas pools says:

    April 15th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Pool Service In Dallas…

    [...]I’m not sure you happen to be fully proper, but I can agree with nearly all of it. This absolutely features a lot of people agreeing with.[...]…

  23. Affordable Health Insurance In Missouri says:

    June 25th, 2012 at 10:50 am

    How To Insure Your Car…

    [...]I see you realize a whole lot about what you happen to become writing about. Fascinating study. I’ll check out your web-site inside the future.[...]…

  24. Keyla says:

    September 5th, 2012 at 5:31 am

    You mean I don’t have to pay for expert advice like this aynomre?!

Leave a comment