The west side of Saltwell Towers, Saltwell Park, Gateshead, which was designed and built by William Wailes, 1854-1862. Grace McCombie describes this Grade II listed building as being in a "eccentric castle style with lively turreted roofscape.... using engineering bricks of dark red, with black bands and light buff details" (266). The general impression is part-Gothic, with corner turrets and crenellated parapets, for example at the top of the tall entrance tower; and part Tudor, with large windows and chimneys, bays, polychromy, decorative friezes, and heraldic shields at the top of the large bay here. Some touches, such as the ornamental wrought-iron on the crest of the south-east turret roof, show more recent French influence.

Left: The square entrance tower at the north front, marked by a slender round staircase tower to one side, with a pyramidal roof. Right: The turret at the south-east, with the steeply pitched fish-scale slate roof and decorative ironwork, and the garden battlements at the south-west corner.

Into this fanciful confection and its large grounds Wailes poured the money he had accumulated from stained glass production, until he was forced to sell it to the council, leasing it back for the duration of his life, while the larger part of the grounds became a public park. In its very idiosyncrasy, it is a good example of the kind of country home built by amateur architects of the time with the means to indulge their own tastes.

Part of the battlemented walkway giving views over the rest of what was then Wailes's estate.

From the garden on the south side, low grey stone walls continue along to the west, forming a walkway with octagonal turrets at each end, serving as viewing points. These predate the house itself, and show Wailes's grandiose plans taking shape at an early stage. The house has recently been restored, its interior, which had been mostly lost to neglect and fire, now set up as a refreshment and exhibition space.

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print document.]

Related Material

Sources

List Entry: Saltwell Park. English Heritage. Web. 7 August 2014.

List Entry: Saltwell Towers. English Heritage. Web. 7 August 2014.

McCombie, Grace. Newcastle and Gateshead. Pevsner Architectural Guides. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.

"William Wailes 1808-1881." Plaque beneath Wailes's portrait in Saltwell Towers.


Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts Architecture

Last modified 9 August 2014