NCL Photo Walk – The Calder Leadworks.

It was the day after the worst flooding in Morpeth since 1963, heavy rain falling all across the north east, massive train delay in and out of Newcastle and I didn’t bother to bring any decent water proof clothing!

The fourth Newcastle Photo Walk went ahead yesterday and it was a wonder off to wasteland next to Newcastle Metro Arena to find a derelict building.  I found out about the building from Flickr user Arron Cupid.  The waste land the building sits on was the site of Calder Industrial Materials, a lead manufacturer.  The site shut down in 2002 and since I don’t remember it even being their I thought I would have a quick look and see what I could find out about it.

My first find was from the boys and girls over at they have been spending a little time at the derelict building which used to be an on-site medical infirmary for the Lead Works.  They had found an interesting part of the building that we missed on our walk.  An old spiral staircase leading underground.  If your into this kind of thing I would recommend having a look over their site; some interesting stuff they have found.

The most interesting bit of information I found on was from Shepy (Check out his Blog) Not sure where he found it but he managed to come up with a historical brake down on the site.  This is what the site used to look like before it was flattened in 2004:

1778 – Site opened with 2 acres.

1785 – Takes in 2 more fields and expands to 15 acres.

1797 – Shot tower constructed and opened, stood 174ft tall. The tower leant to one side and was righted by digging soil away from the opposite side and letting gravity do its thing until it was perpendicular again. It was visible two miles out of Chester-Le-Street, which is 7 miles south of Newcastle so must have loomed high above the skyline of the city then.

1802 – Start of work to rebuild site almost entirely.

1827 – Rebuild completed, shot tower and workers cottages only original buildings left.

1951 – Shot production ceased and the tower was closed, and promptly listed as a historic building.

1969 – Shot tower demolished due to safety concerns as it had started leaning again.

2002 – Site closed entirely by its last owners ‘Calder Industrial Materials’.

2004 – Site flattened by owners ready for a planning permission attempt by Bellway homes.

2006 – Planning permission denied for a number of reasons, including:

  • Soil contamination by heavy metals requiring 50cm of cohesive clay and further 50cm of top soil to form a barrier layer.
  • Elswick gas holders considered a problem, H&SE required 30m exclusion zone, Bellway wanted 18m with a road running just 6m away.
  • Project proposal not deemed suitable or necessary for the location.
  • Seems Newcastle Council have been wanting to use the land for sometime, I found a planning document “City of Newcastle upon Tyne Unitary Development Plan (1998)” that outlines the housing improvements in and around Newcastle City Centre.  The document gives an update to the progress of the 1998 plan to increase the number of dwellings in Newcastle by 10,000 and in it; it highlights that:

    Figures exclude the site of the former Calder Lead works, for which there is outline
    planning permission for development of 6.2 hectares but no agreed site capacity.

    Basically Newcastle Council have wanted the site to be used since Calder Lead works highlighted to them that the site would close back in 1998.  10 Years later and the land is still unusable due to chemical contamination in the soil.

    So that the History but what about yesterday….

    Well; check out the photo’s from the Newcastle Photo Walk Flickr Group and I’ll tell you about the homeless Pikey and rain later….

    If you have any pictures of the Lead works Infermary please post links in the comments.

    Know anything about the history of the Calder Lead Works?

    7 thoughts on “NCL Photo Walk – The Calder Leadworks.”

    1. Sadly the spiral staircase is not there any more Phil, it was removed by pikies, though even when it was there going down it to get that shot was not recommended to all but the lightest of people as the centre (read: load bearing) pole was not attached to anything.

      There used to be a lot of industrial washers and stuff on the lower floors as well, which has also all been removed. Seems the site is getting quite a bit of attention from pikies lately, sadly.

      The info i found about the site was taken from a number of sources, i tend to research every site i goto in that manner, so if you do any more derelicts in Newcastle let me know, i’ll likely have some info about them for you if it interests you.


    2. Here in Australia and getting my UK news via The Sun, it’s hard to think of anything of importance happening in Newcastle other than the turmoil of Newcastle FC.

      Andrew Goulding

    3. Was there today for a photography and media assignment with college. We found it to be a very wierd and strange building and took turns to figure out what it may have been. The place is an absolute dump now, with heroine needles, ropes, condoms etc. We didn’t stay long but found it to be a very strange place, even to this day.

    4. me and my band have been to this building quite a few times… and never once have we seen a rope or a hypodermic needle

    5. Leadworks is creepy, id like to find out more about what happened to the people who worked there

    6. hey i go to lead works alot but i went last night and my brother go stuck down a hole for about 2 hours and whie he was down there he was cut on the arm and he had been bit it was human teath marks but while he was down there he was shoutting ‘dont help me im fine’ but i had to help him and when we got him out he said that he wasnt shoutting ‘dont help me in fine’ if anyone would like to come on saturday 25th febuary 2012 call me on my phone 07941817807 but call me any time after 4pm

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