Nationally-important pit baths face the bulldozer

The old Lynemouth Pithead Baths which are Grade 2 listed.
The old Lynemouth Pithead Baths which are Grade 2 listed.

Rare listed pithead baths could be pulled down.

Harworth Estates is seeking permission to demolish the baths at the former Lynemouth Colliery.

The facilities date back to 1938 and were designed by the modernist Frederick George Frizzell. They are one of only two Grade II-listed pithead baths in England.

But the applicant says repeated efforts to stop break-ins and damage have failed, while funding applications to bring the building back into use have not been successful.

A spokesman said: “As the owner of the current pithead baths at Lynemouth, Harworth Estates has faced a constant battle against theft, vandalism and anti-social behaviour over the past few months.

“Despite recent work to remove rubbish from inside the building, the boarding up of windows and removing any remaining items of value, the building continues to be broken into and damaged, posing a public health and safety risk.

“We have looked into alternative uses for the baths for some time, with stakeholders such as Northumberland County Council, English Heritage and others. Despite this hard work, we have been unable to find a way forward.

“In the interests of safety, demolition of the baths is the only realistic option available.”

However, the plan is opposed by the Association for Industrial Archaeology, the Twentieth Century Society, the Council for British Archaeology and English Heritage.

The latter states that demolition should be “a wholly exceptional circumstance” and says there is insufficient detail about the building’s viability.

It adds: “The demolition of the building would involve not only the loss of a nationally significant example of modernist architecture, but also a once common piece of social history belonging to one of the North East’s most important past industries.”

It suggests a structural survey, conservation plan and feasibility options study.

The application has been submitted to Northumberland County Council, but English Heritage warns that it would have to be referred to the Secretary of State for approval.