25 May, 2012

Construction complete on Byker Heritage Centre

Wates Living Space has completed the transformation of a derelict shop unit on the Byker Wall estate; paving the way for a new heritage centre focused on the area’s unique history.

The Byker Lives Project is set to open at Raby Cross later this month and will serve as an archive for artifacts, photographs, drawings, stories and short films about the area and its residents. 

The project will study the renowned design of the estate’s housing by Ralph Erskine in the 1970s, which resulted in the highly distinctive character that can still be felt today. In 2007 it was listed Grade II* and placed in the top 6% of listed buildings nationally.

The heritage centre will also facilitate the creation of a resident-led Byker Heritage and Archive Group which will recruit and train community volunteers.

Wates began work on the renovation at the beginning of March. The work forms part of a £20,000 investment in the estate by Wates Living Space following its role in the £2m redevelopment of Bolam Coyne for Your Homes Newcastle.

Jill Haley, Chief Officer at Byker Community Trust, added: “Byker has always been a special and unique place because of what it is today and because of how it was created. Built in the 1960s and 70s it is recognised by English Heritage as one of the most influential and pioneering social housing schemes of the twentieth century. On an international scale there is nothing that I am aware of which can compare to it of the same era and this explains why people come from far and wide to visit Byker and learn more about it. The new Heritage Centre will be a focal point for such visitors, an asset for this special estate and a welcome neighbour to the Byker Community Trust.”

The project is being led by registered charity Northern Architecture and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Future Sparks.

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We’re really pleased to continue our role in the transformation of Byker by offering our support for this unique project. The area has a fascinating history and it is important that it is both preserved and celebrated for future generations. I look forward to seeing all the captured memorabilia for myself when it opens.
Joanne Jamieson, Regional Managing Director of Wates Living Space