Tyne and Wear
Staiths were the river end of the waggonway systems – impressive structures jutting out across to the cargo ships. Dunston Staiths allowed the North East to export its wares, and particularly coal, to the world.
At 1,709 feet long and 50 feet wide, Dunston Staiths is reputed to be the largest timber structure in Northern Europe. It is one of the Tyne’s most prominent industrial landmarks.
Commissioned by the North Eastern Railway Company and opened in 1893, it was built as part of the Dunston Extension Railway to load coal from collieries in Durham and Tyneside onto ships. At its peak in the 1920s, the Staiths shipped an average of 140,000 tons of coal-a-week.
The last working staiths on the River Tyne, Dunston eventually closed in 1980. Whilst part of the site was renovated for the National Garden Festival in 1990, the site has since been placed on English Heritage’s “At Risk” register due to serious fire damage.
The site is now owned by Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust who are working with English Heritage, Gateshead Council and the Durham Wildlife Trust to secure the site’s future.