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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Fairytale mansion gets new life
Saltwell Towers
The fairytale mansion has been transformed
A fairytale mansion which lay in ruins for decades has been transformed in a multi-million pound restoration.

Saltwell Towers, which lies at the heart of Saltwell Park, in Gateshead, was built in 1862.

The restoration is part of a £10m scheme to return the park to its former Victorian glory.

The mansion has been turned into the park's new visitor centre, boasting a café, IT facilities and an exhibition on the history of the park.

William Wailes, a 19th Century stained-glass manufacturer, is believed to have designed the towers and surrounding gardens, with help from horticultural architect Edward Kemp.

Mr Wailes' great, great, grandson Peter Rankine Defty and his daughter Maria Dorman were special guests at the official opening on Wednesday.

Saltwell Park was first opened to the public in 1876 and was designed to provide a haven of peace and tranquillity for the working people of Gateshead.

The towers' £3m restoration project by Gateshead Council is part of a dramatic £10m scheme, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Saltwell Towers from 1878
The mansion as it was in 1879

Gateshead council leader Mick Henry and mayor Pat Ronan declared the building officially open.

Mr Henry said: "Having an open area where people can meet, relax and enjoy their surroundings is still as important today as it was back in the 19th Century, so it is great to see the first stage of this impressive restoration project come to life, to be enjoyed by residents and visitors to Gateshead.

"When work started five years ago, Saltwell Towers was little more than an empty, roofless shell.

"It is now a striking combination of old and new - the outside has been restored to its original state and is like something out of a fairy tale, while the inside is a light, airy space where visitors can relax and admire the views across the park."

Work will continue on Saltwell Park to restore the original features of the 55 acres of landscapes, woodland and ornamental gardens.



Fairytale home through the years
14 Jul 04  |  In Pictures
Lotto cash saves endangered tower
05 Apr 04  |  Cumbria
Mining memories to attract visitors
01 Oct 03  |  Tyne/Wear

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