This film is part of Free

National Garden Festival Gateshead

Experience the spectacle of landscape gardening on a grand scale in Gateshead.

Amateur film 1990 9 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


From urban decay to dahlia displays and the drama of Dunston Staiths, Gateshead has its eye on future regeneration driven by horticultural heaven. One of the 3 million flanêurs at the event that year trips through the city’s National Garden Festival with his cine camera. This landscape of spectacle and theatricality, traversed by a caterpillar monorail, was built on the derelict land of a once industrial Tyne riverside, scarred by gas and coke works, and railway sidings.

The many exhibits, including models of European landmarks such as the Tower of Pisa, can’t compete with the remarkable industrial architecture of Dunston Staiths, a quarter of a mile long and the largest wooden structure in Europe, perhaps the world. Built in 1890 by the North Eastern Railway Company, it was once a noisy, dirty and busy environment, with the comings and goings of visiting seamen on the steamers, locomotives shunting coal wagons and gangs of men called ‘teemers’ directing coal into the ships. The National Garden Festivals were an idea pushed by Michael Heseltine in 1980, intended to kick-start local economies as part of the Thatcher government’s urban policy for the inner cities.