Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dunston Rocket set to go

Dunston’s landmark Rocket is facing demolition. News that the landmark 29 storey block could be pulled down was revealed in late October when it emerged that Gateshead Council, owners of the Rocket, were considering the radical step as a solution to the problems plaguing the building.

One other possible option is to sell the block, officially called Derwent Tower, to a developer. The Rocket opened 35 years ago and was the region’s first skyscraper.

It was designed by Owen Luder, the same architech who worked on the Gateshead Multi-Storey car park which is also facing demolition.

There are 196 flats in the Rocket but only 40 are now occupied. The building has suffered from problems with flooding, broken lifts and failing water supplies. Crime has also been an on going problem.

Dunston and Teams campaigner Michael Ruddy said, "The state of the building means it needs a radical solution. It would be great if a developer could buy it and revamp the whole block. But in the absence of that, the building will have to be demolished."

Dunston Hill Councillor Peter Maughan was born and raised in Dunston and remembers the Rocket block being built. "As a teenager we watched as it got higher and higher.

"At the time it seemed to be a great idea and was a symbol for Dunston. But it has suffered from major problems since and letting the flats has become more and more difficult."

Peter has fond memories of the area before it was developed in the late 1960s. His aunt had a drapers shop called Crutes which is on the site now occupied by the Rocket. "It was a very well known shop in Dunston at the time," said Peter.

Photo: Councillor Peter Maughan at the bottom of the Rocket. Gateshead Council are now looking at plans to demolish the 29 storey block.


Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that Owen Luder would dare to say that the "Rocket Derwent Tower" could ever be a listed builing..and now we have Gazza praising its stature as being a monument to his youth, we also have Mr Maughan liberal councilor talking about his familiarity with this monstrosity as part of his childhood and his growing up!
The tower was completed in 1973 and sanctioned by the then Whickham council to provide affordable accommodation to the people of Gateshead..what a joke!! If this had been put forward to the residents of
Whickham , it would never have been passed ,if it had got through by the mad planners of 1973 it would have been demolished years ago.
Luder, Gazza and Maughan are so detached from Dunston that they choose to live elsewhere and have fond memories of a place that they will never settle down to live in again..they will worship from afar in some misguided thought that the Men and Woman of Dunston actually like this monstrosity and care what they think.
Let us put this to the vote of the people of Dunston... those that live and work there everyday in the shadow of the Grey concrete building that has blocked this village from ever becoming a nice vibrant place to live.Bring this village into the 21st Century and lets demolish this costly ugly 1970's disaster for good
Lynne Jacques living in Dunston

Anonymous said...

I don't think a vote is neccessary on the future of the rocket. Most people are curious and are looking forward to seeing redevelopment plans for the site. Most of the flats/masonets above the shops are also now empty. I only hope that a new shopping centre is included.

Clare Greenfield
Swan Drive

julie nicholson said...

Lynne Jacques (or rather a male in disguise who is well known to us all)appear to be multi opinionated as well as undecided at the same time on the issue of the rocket.

In one sentence she (sorry he) demands a vote for the people of Dunston on the future of the rocket. Then in the next sentence, she (sorry he) says lets demolish this costly ugly 1970's disaster for good. These are the mixed up words of someone who wants to be a community leader.

Sorry, but if your comments are to appear in disguise, you need to be much more brighter than that, and also be more discreet about your disguised comments. The old saying is very true - You never know who's hanging on your ear listening.

Julie Nicholson
Whickham Avenue