Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead,NE8 3BA, United Kingdom

Former Use: Flour Mill
New Use: Centre for Contemporary Art
Category: Culture
Reuse Architect: Dominic Williams of Ellis Williams Architects
Construction year(s): 1950 -
Reuse year(s): 1998 - 2002


•Opened as a working flour mill in 1950 by Rank Hovis with a silo capacity of 22,000 tonnes. It was equipped with the most modern and efficient machinery of the time although the building was actually designed in the late 1930s.
•An animal food mill extension was added in 1957.
•At its height the mill employed around 300 people and about 100 were still employed when the company closed the mill in 1981.
•The attached warehouse (now demolished) stored 5,000 tonnes and it could despatch 240 tonnes of grain per hour.
•The building is 42 m high (almost 138 ft). It is 24 m wide (almost 79 ft) and 52 m in length (170 ft).
•The building was designed before the Second World War by Hull-based architects, Gelder and Kitchen.
•The Baltic Flour Mills served as a model for other mills built by Rank as part of a reconstruction programme after the Second World War.
•Theories about the origins of the name of the mills include being named after the Baltic Exchange in London which was the hub of wheat trading for many years or after the fact some of the grain came from the Baltic area.
•Most probably named after the Baltic Sea as other Rank Hovis Mills around the country - Ocean Mill, Solent Mill, Atlantic Mill - were named after seas or rivers. Rank's London HQ was called Baltic House.
•The building still contains the grain hoppers which are individually numbered and run almost the whole height of the building.
•Talented young architect Dominic Williams of Ellis Williams Architects won an international design competition in 1994 to convert the building.
•The Arts Council of England's National Lottery fund backed the project with £33.4 million for building costs and £1.5 million a year for five years for running costs.(1)

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Added on 2018-08-09 by editor Dora Chatzi Rodopoulou