Stepping down into the rose garden (formerly Saltwell Towers' kitchen garden) at Saltwell Park.

Saltwell Park, Gateshead. A number of Victorians played a part in creating this particularly lovely and well-loved public park. The first was William Wailes (1808-81), who developed the area from 1853-70 as the grounds of his estate at Saltwell Towers. Then, when the estate was acquired for the public in 1876, Edward Kemp (1817-91) produced plans for the new "People's Park." Kemp's designs were somewhat modified by the Borough Surveyor James Bowyer, who also made some additions, such as entrance lodges and a stable block (see McCombie 166, and the list entry). In 1920, the extensive garden of the adjoining Saltwell Grove, another late nineteenth-century mansion, was incorporated. The park is Grade II listed as a park of historic importance, and has recently been beautifully restored.

Left: The dene. Right: The boating lake.

The gardens close to Saltwell Towers include the dene, a narrow well-wooded valley with a pretty stream running into a pool at the west end. Wailes laid out this area with paths and footbridges like the one show above right. The lake dates from the 1880s, and followed the design of landscaper and ornithologist John Hancock (1808-1890). Aviaries were also built in the 1880s.

Boer War Memorial, with Saltwell Towers in the background, © Andrew Curtis.

The Boer War memorial is the work of Francis William Doyle-Jones. Inscribed to the "Grateful Remembrance of the Gateshead Men who lost their lives in their Country’s Service," it features an angel, "Peace crowning the heroes" ("War Memorial at Gateshead"). It was installed in 1905. Other amenities include a maze, bowling green, and a play area for children. While some of the most attractive areas, such as the battlements overlooking the park, and the dene, were part of Wailes's original scheme, the whole now represents the vision of Gateshead's Victorian town councillors, one of whom in 1876 stated categorically that local residents needed a place where they could escape from "the smoke and other contaminations" of the Tyneside area ("Gateshead").

Text and first three photographs by Jacqueline Banerjee. Andrew Curtis's photograph was originally posted on, and has been slightly adjusted in size, and modified to reduce shadows. Many thanks for this. You may use the first three 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. The last one too may be reused under the Creative Commons Licence. Click on all the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material


"Gateshead." Newcastle Courant 7 July 1876: 7. 19c British Newspapers. Web. 11 August 2014.

List Entry: Saltwell Park. English Heritage. Web. 11 August 2014.

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

"War Memorial at Gateshead." In "Naval And Military Intelligence." Times 13 November 1905: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 August 2014.

Last modified 1 December 2016