St Hilda’s Headstock in South Shields is a sympathetic renovation project carried out by Meldrum on behalf of the Tyne And Wear Building Preservation Trust. The building is to be office and work space units to be used be artists/creative people and small businesses. The idea behind this is to generate income for the building to ensure maintenance and sustainability. When completed there will also be a museum section dedicated to the history of mining in the local area. This is a fantastic project for Meldrum as mining is such a large part of the North-Easts heritage, and previously closed pits have not been preserved and honoured in this way.
The project is a mixture of renovation of existing structures as well new steelwork that is going to match the original parts. There are also plans for a new lift shaft, stair way and a large lantern structure to be built onto the roof.
St Hilda’s was a working pit until closure in 1942, however the lift and shaft remained operational till 1992 as an escape shaft for Westoe Colliery. The winding room and the pump house is the only building remaining, and is Grade II listed. So far, we have come up against a few issues including asbestos and lead dust removal, unrecorded underground shafts and excavations in close proximity to the original shaft, but these have been overcome and work is continuing well.