Plans for the future

The Black Gate will become a pivotal starting point for visitors

Creating Accessible Buildings

One of the principal areas of focus for the HLF-funded project will be to increase accessibility into the Black gate and the Castle Keep. The Castle Keep, with its plethora of stairs and nooks and crannies, will have an accessible entrance on the ground floor into the Garrison Room, together with interpretation featuring a vitrual tour of the Castle and a camera-link to the rooftop.

The Black Gate will have a stylish lift linking the Castle Garth walkway to the building, enabling all areas of the building to be accessed in a way which has never been possible before. Although it is not possible to have toilet facilities in the Keep, there will be accessible toilets on each floor of the Black Gate.

The conservation of its masonry and the conversion of the empty Black Gate will transform it into a new and major education and community resource. This will allow the outstanding building to become a pivotal starting point for visitors to the wider historical area. The building will be adapted to provide interpretation space in the stone-vaulted ground-floor guard rooms. The new external lift will give access to the first, second and third floors for interpretation/education/community/visitor use. The current attic space will become new offices for staff and volunteers.

The project includes access improvements and upgrading safety/security lighting in and around the Keep in accordance with a completed Access Audit. The joy of exploring the Keep will be enhanced through the introduction of new exhibitions and revitalised interpretation.

We are working with architects, design specialists, technical specialists and archaeologists to ensure that the project is developed in a way which is sympathetic to the surrounding city, respects the incredibly important building history and which creates a resulting product of which everyone can be proud. We'll be posting plans of the development in due course as well as a timetable of the works so you can see what's happening and when.

Creating Inspiring and Engaging Interpretation

New displays will be created inthe Black Gate, telling the story of Old Newcastle, its development, rich building history, its role in the creation of the wider city and the special stories of its inhabitants. High quality interpretation will lead the visitor through time, looking at the history and importance of the whole Castle area (including the 'new' castle which gave the city its name). The Keep will have new displays in the Garrison Room, together with updated interpretation in the rest of the building to lead the visitor round its fascinating layout. We will be working with a specialist design company to create stunning new displays and interpretation which will draw people into this unique area.

The project will engage all sections of the community and attract visitors from afar. It will be directed towards changing vague curiosity into real interest and real interest into passion for greater involvement in caring for our wider historic environment. Education programmes, interpretation and animation, storytelling, tours, events, performances, outreach work, recreational activities, and marketing will all be built into the area's future.

Creating a Vibrant Learning Programme

The project includes the appointment of a Learning Officer (April 2012) whose role it will be to prepare and deliver engaging education programmes for the city's 40,000 school students as well as offering a whole host of learning opportunities for community groups and LifeLong Learners.

The rich history of the Old Newcastle area - the development of the city and its inhabitants who people it - is an immense resource and the Learning Officer will work with teachers to develop a wide range of schools activities which embrace the curriculum. This will also include outreach work and establishing education partnerships with other heritage organisations and venues.

An education strategy has been prepared by a working group which includes the Partnership, teachers, lecturers, heritage advisors and education administrators. This strategy identifies achieveable objectives and programmes and includes a three year delivery programme which involves collaborations with schools and colleges througout the city. The strategy also includes tertiary education and vocational/skill training with the active participation of university students already part of the project. Learning will be both formal and informal, with visitors being given the opportunity to find out about the city's past and the importance of their heritage in a friendly, creative and relaxed environment.

Working in Partnership

A wide variety of partner organisations are working with the Old Newcastle team to create a unified visitor experience and education/community programme. One of the key partners is the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, who have secured HLF funding to tell the stories of people in and around the Cathedral and to conserve the important monuments inside the building. The Illuminating Stories project is being delivered alongside the Old Newcastle project to ensure a co-ordinated approach to interpretation planning and education activity. Partners from both organisations will deliver an exciting range of events and learning activities, with lots of opportunities for volunteers to get involved. 

Other key partners include the Society of Antiquaries (whose sterling work at the end of the nineteenth century ensured the Black Gate wasn't demolished in the wave of railway-related construction sweeping the city) and Newcastle City Council, as well as English Heritage, Newcastle University, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative.

The Old Newcastle Project will create a sustainable resource available to all. It will actively encourage everyone to experience the thrill of seeing, feeling, 'owning' and walking around the historic buildings and spaces and meeting through education and interpretation some of the remarkable characters who have enriched the nation's life.