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Tyne and Wear HER(7662): Blaydon, Shibdon Dene - Details

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Blaydon, Shibdon Dene



Gardens Parks and Urban Spaces


Public Park



Natural Feature

Steep sided wooded dene on the eastern edge of Blaydon Bank Conservation Area. Has a secluded character. Has suffered from misuse and vandalism. Contains a Cowen fountain (HER 7595). STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE This attractive natural feature enhances the local area greatly, and has long been used as a recreational opportunity. Historically there was a quarry to the southern end, but this was gradually incorporated within the leisure space. It is a deeply incised dene, sloping steeply from the southern entrance, with dense tree cover and some shrub planting beneath in an informal arrangement. On the historic mapping there are representations of different tree forms, indicating that the character of trees was historically wide ranging, and included evergreens as well as deciduous trees, and probably broadleaf species as well as smaller ones. In the summer, when the trees are in leaf, they form quite a dense canopy overhead, so that the highly built-up area surrounding is all but shut out – creating a quiet woodland effect. Whilst its recreational potential seems to have been exploited for as long as there have been inhabitants nearby, the site appears to have been subject to the landscaping efforts of the Edwardians, as there is a distinct change shown on the 3rd edition OS map from the 2nd edition. Some wonderful old photographs show a well-tended space, with the trees opened out to some degree, and the mapping shows that the tree belt had been extended further down the dene (perhaps as a restoration of what was understood as the historic extent of tree cover). A network of paths was woven through the dene, creating sunlit walkways, and benches sited at the edges offered restful spots for elegant ladies and excited children. Bridges and shelters were provided in the popular ‘rustic’ style, fashioned out of unworked branches lathed together in a lattice form. The areas between the paths were terraced, and planted with ornamental flowerbeds and rockeries. All appears very clean and neat, which is a disappointing contrast to the present situation, as the dene is now extremely vulnerable to vandalism and litter problems. In particular, the Cowen fountain has been extensively targeted and is in poor condition. Some railings (of different forms) remain to parts of the perimeter, which are likely to date from the Edwardian period, but the bridges and shelters have gone. The dene has long served the recreational needs of the local population, and it will surely make a positive contribution to this, as well as the historic, landscape and wildlife interest of the area, into the future. The dene was the location of a warden’s post during WWII. FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS The dene is a great asset to the area, and a very attractive feature. However, presently its contribution is compromised to some extent by the problems presented by litter and vandalism. Investigation into possible solutions to these problems would not only be most welcome, and ensure that the dene remains an attractive space into the future, but also encourage greater appreciation and use of it as a resource by the local community. DATES Landscaped early 20th century? LOCAL LIST




Gateshead Council Local List X20/LLG/03; Gateshead Council, April 1999, Conservation Area Policy Guidelines, Strategies and Character Statements, Blaydon Bank Conservation Area, p 14; Intermediate Council School, Blaydon - A Short Account of the Town and its Neighbourhood (1934)

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