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.