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Image courtesy of David Tiernan


Dunston Staiths on the River Tyne is believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe, at its height, 5.5m tonnes of coal a year was taken by rail from the Durham coalfields and loaded from the Staiths onto ships waiting on the river, which transported coal around the British Isles and Internationally.

The North Eastern Railway Company opened Dunston Staiths in 1893 to meet the growing demand to export coal and to save the rail journey to the docks at the mouth of the river. A second set of Staiths was built adjoining the first in 1903 and a tidal basin dug out, providing six berths in all, where colliers could be loaded at all states of the tide.

Dunston Staiths fell into disrepair during the latter half of the C20th, as the coal industry declined. It was fully restored in the 1980’s with the gantries repaired and redecorated, but in a non-operational condition. Used as a focal point for the National Garden Festival held in Gateshead in 1990, the public could then walk along the top of the structure and view the chutes and other machinery used in loading the ships, it was also a performance area and art gallery.

A fire in 2003 seriously damaged the monument, destroying a section which detached the eastern end to create an island.


Ecologically, the Tyne is considered to be the third most important tidal area in the North East. When dredging stopped, the lagoon silted up rapidly to create mudflats providing an important feeding area for wintering and migrant wading birds. The detoxification of the two rivers has encouraged the establishment of increasingly interesting natural habitats around the Staiths, including an important Saltmarsh Garden, a rare resource in the urban environment and of significant conservation interest.

The Staiths structure currently provides an undisturbed roosting area for a range of bird species including grey heron, lapwing and redshank. Otters, an internationally protected species, also use the Staiths, Saltmarsh and adjoining areas of the Rivers Team and Tyne.

Dunston Staiths is included within two nature conservation designations, the River Tyne Tidal Mud Local Wildlife Site and the River Team Saltmarsh Local Wildlife Site.

Opening Times

For the 2015 Opening Season (24 March - 27 September) Dunston Staiths will open on:

Wednesdays 10am - 7pm

Sundays 10am - 5pm

Staiths also opens for Special Events, Bank Holidays, some evening sunsets, and for guided walks and talks.

Please check the Facebook section of the website for information and updates.

TWBPT is supported by Staiths Friends in opening the structure to the public. These key holders are local residents who volunteer their time to the project.

To find out about becoming a Staiths Friend, email Your support could enable opening times to be extended in future.

Please note that Dunston Staiths may be closed in high winds.


A major landmark in the Tyne corridor, Dunston Staiths is a Scheduled Ancient Monument,  Grade II listed, and on English Heritage's 'Heritage at Risk' Register.

It is owned by the Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT), who with the help of Heritage Lottery funding, support from English Heritage, TWBPT, Garfield Weston Foundation, Taylor Wimpey, Sir James Knott Trust, LEAF, and public donation, plan to make this iconic structure into a sustainable visitor attraction.

A registered charity established in 1979, Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT) preserves local architectural heritage through the repair, conservation and regeneration of our historic buildings and structures of special historic, architectural, or townscape interest for public benefit.

Alongside the restoration, an activity plan supported by the Friends Group and Volunteers aims to reconnect the Staiths and Saltmarsh Garden to the local area, develop awareness and understanding of its significance, and give the project long term sustainability through interpretation, events, activities and learning programmes.

 While the Staiths will be substantially closed to public access during the winter months when surfaces become slippy and to protect breeding birds, it is planned that the western end of the Staiths will be open to the public during the summer season.




Dunston Staiths is on the south bank of the River Tyne at Dunston, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.

There is a car park at the west end on Staiths Road, NE11 9DR. (near The Excelsior Club).

For bus and train times