Work approved to revamp South Shields 'disappearing gun' at Trow Rocks

Plans to revamp an iconic military landmark in South Tyneside have been given the green light by planning bosses.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 4:31 pm

The “Disappearing Gun”, a Grade II-listed turret structure at the Trow Rocks beach at South Shields, is what remains of an experiment in coastal defence technology in the 19th Century.

Although the original concrete housing remains, the gun is a replica placed at the site in 1987 to commemorate the trial exactly 100 years earlier.

Designed by Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, it was first placed there in 1887 when the Army was exploring new coastal defences.

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The Disappearing Gun after it was restored by 205 Battery with paint materials supplied by National Trust in 2015.

The gun was last restored in 2015 by a group of Territorial Army soldiers as part of a community project.

According to planning documents the replica gun shield has since “suffered from the impacts of the marine environment and antisocial behaviour”.

The team from 205 Battery putting the finishing touches to the gun in 2015.

New plans included removing components of the ‘shield’ element of the replica and replacement like-for-like with steel painted grey.

Following a period of consultation, the proposals were approved on Friday, May 22.

A council decision report states the proposals would “prevent the gun shield from continuing to deteriorate.”

The Disappearing Gun in 2015

It goes on to say: “Given the current dilapidated condition of the gun shield, it is considered that the proposed works to repair / replace it would at very least preserve the special historic and architectural interest, and visual appearance, of this Grade II-listed gun turret.”

The Victorian structure is known as the Trow Rock Disappearing Gun due to the experiment involving a platform allowing it to be raised and lowered within the concrete base – however this was never used in action.

Under planning conditions, works on the historic site would need to take place within the next three years.