The future of Dunston Staiths has been secured following a devastating fire in May.

The National Trust will work with Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT) and the Friends of Dunston Staiths on a long term plan for a "sustainable future for this much-loved structure".

Emergency services were called to the area on May 15 and the fire service issued a warning to people about the dangers of deliberate fires.

The Dunston Staiths were once a crucial gateway for the coal industry, where ships were loaded with coal and sent all over the world. In 2008, it was declared 'at risk' after decades of decline. It's hoped the structure will be removed from the 'at risk' list with this new backing from the National Trust.

Dunston Staiths on the River Tyne in its heyday Credit: Gateshead Council

Sitting on the River Tyne, it is believed to be Europe’s largest timber structure. It is a Grade II listed Scheduled Monument and is a long-term inclusion on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register.

The structure is owned by the Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust. A small restoration project was undertaken in 2015 to reintroduce public access and there are ambitions to restore the entire structure. These ambitions have been scuppered by funding challenges and a number of arson attacks.

We are all appalled at the damage to the structure, but now it is essential to look to the future and we are proud to announce that the National Trust has stepped forward to support and work with TWBPT. We have been struggling to cope with the demands of this massive structure and the support from the National Trust, alongside that of Gateshead Council is a game changer.

Martin Hulse, TWBPT Trust Manager