Park to re-open after dig uncovers history

Northumberland Park, North Shields.'REF 2309142544
Northumberland Park, North Shields.'REF 2309142544

An historical park is set to re-open later this year following an archaeological dig and a multi-million pound refurbishment.

Northumberland Park, which lies between Tynemouth and North Shields, first opened nearly 130 years ago.

And it is set to re-open by the end of November after North Tyneside Council received a £2.2m grant to restore historical features and extend an archaeological dig.

Work will begin in November on a new café, toilets and a community room, due for competition next spring.

Improvements to the children’s play park will also be made in time for spring, along with the installation of a woodland BMX track.

Sam Dand, senior manager for local environmental services, said: “Unfortunately, the opening has been put back by few weeks. One of the reasons for the delay is due to some exciting and unexpected significant finds discovered during the archaeological dig.

“It’s important that we take this opportunity to learn more about the area’s heritage and excavating this area is helping us in doing so.”

Supervised by Tyne & Wear Specialist Conservation Team, the dig discovered the entire outline of St Leonard’s Hospital, a medieval hospital dating back to the 13th century.

A tiled floor was also unearthed, thought to have been located at the chapel end of the hospital.

The site of the former hospital, on land which is now part of the park, had already been partially uncovered in 2011.

The £2.2m funding allowed further work and enabled the project to look into the hospital’s history, overseen by The Archaeology Practice.

As well as the archaeological work, the wider project has included the restoration of the lost historical features including cast iron railings, park furniture, fountains, historic planting schemes and the installation of a new park pavilion.

The council changed its original plans so more historical features could be restored and displayed, resulting in a more extensive project, which impacted on the initial completion date for the project.

A celebration event is being planned to coincide with the 135-year anniversary of Northumberland Park in the summer of 2015.