Groundwork Landscape Architects

Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre2 min read

ROLE: Groundwork commissioned and led the design and development

LOCATIONS: Blaydon-on-Tyne

CLIENT: Groundwork NE & Cumbria

Background & Objectives: 

Groundwork Landscape Architect, Michele MacCallam, designed a full SUDS treatment train including source controls in the Sedum Green Roof, permeable paving and bio-attenuation planters taking roof rainwater via rain chains, geocellular units sited below paving areas, vegetated detention basins and a flow control chamber to regulate any overflow into the watercourse. 

The Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre boasts it’s awards; International Green Apple 

Built Environment Award & Architectural Heritage Award (2019), Local Authorities Building Control (LABC) Northern (Regional) Award for Best Small Commercial Building (2019) and was also shortlisted for Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying (SPACES) yearbook and RICS Awards 2019 North East in the Tourism and Leisure category. 

Design Solution:

The design concept is the shape of a water wheel which was inspired by the revolutionary iron works at ‘Old’ Winlaton Mill. Iron works were established in the 1690s and used up to 9 water wheels to harness the power of the river Derwent. By 1710 they were the first fully integrated iron founding and iron goods manufacturing plant in Europe. An 80 metre stone dam remains of the iron works and is a 5 minute walk from the Heritage Centre through the country park. 

The design concept was chosen by local residents following a competition involving 35 post-graduate architecture students from Northumbria University. A shortlist of 6 was presented to more than 100 people at Winlaton Mill Village Hall in March 2016 with the water wheel concept by Matthew Glover the overwhelming choice.

Gateshead Council’s design team and Groundwork transformed Matthew’s concept into a workable design to bring to life. From the students presenting their design concept ideas to completion was an incredibly short 3 years with funding raised and planning permission secured on a greenbelt and reclaimed site.


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New visitor destination providing access to the Derwent Valley country park, car parking, café with outdoor seating, art installations interpreting the history of local iron manufacturing.

Since opening the centre has exceeded expectations in terms of visitor numbers, and the café is now a profitable venture providing employment in the area.


Michele MacCallam

Principal Landscape Architect

North East Team

More information on the heritage centre: 


  • The National Lottery Fund 
  • NE Rural Growth Network 
  • North East Local Enterprise Fund 
  • Gateshead Council 
  • Groundwork NE & Cumbria 
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