Saturday 6th May 2017
to be held at the Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Held at The Visitor Centre, Red Walk, Jesmond Dene, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7BQ
The Banqueting Hall was built in 1860-2 to a design by John Dobson for Sir William Armstrong, whose nearby house could not accommodate his increasing needs for corporate entertainment and social functions. It was extended westward in 1869-70 with a reception hall, art gallery and gatehouse to designs by Richard Norman Shaw. In 1883 the building (along with Jesmond Dene Park), was gifted by Lord Armstrong to the City of Newcastle for "arts, literature or education purposes". It was used for weddings and civic and other banquets through the 20th century until neglect led to removal in 1977 of the roof of the original 1862 banqueting hall together with demolition of its ancillary facilities to the north. The gatehouse continued in use until recently but further neglect resulted in dry rot running rampant and it is currently unsafe to enter. The 1870 reception hall and art gallery remain habitable and are on lease to the Armstrong Studio Trust.
Martin Hulse of the Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust spoke on the creation and subsequent partial loss of the complex, with an overview of current ideas for re-roofing and development to secure the future of what survives.
Jennie Speirs Grant of Jesmond Heritage and The Armstrong Studio Trust conducted a tour of the accessible parts of the building and outlined the occupants' hopes for its future.