Newcastle's historic Keelmen's Hospital for sale

image captionThe Keelmen's Hospital's domed clock tower overlooks Newcastle's quayside

A prominent Grade II-listed historic building which has been empty for 12 years has been put up for sale.

The 320-year-old Keelmen's Hospital on Newcastle's City Road is classed as being at risk by Historic England.

It has been suggested the site could be turned into a hotel, new housing or a care home.

Newcastle City Council cabinet member Ged Bell said it was a "fantastic opportunity for someone with imagination and creativity".

"Efforts to bring it back into use have not been forthcoming so we've decided to put it on the market to test developer interest," he said.

The 1701 building is being sold jointly with the Men's Palace next door, which is owned by the Salvation Army.

The council hopes a single developer will transform both together, though it said it was "open minded" and the two sites could be bought separately.

One penny per tide

Keels were boats that carried coal along the shallow Tyne to ships too big to sail up the river.

The hospital was built as an almshouse for sick and ageing keelmen, their widows and families, but was most recently used as student accommodation, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The city's 1,600 keelmen paid the £2,000 it cost themselves, by each crew giving one penny per tide from their wages.

A 2015 feasibility study to explore future uses for the hospital suggested it could become a so-called "ethical hotel".

A Northumbria University graduate later won a national design award for plans to use it for retirement bungalows and studio workshops.

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