Hoover and I have enjoyed being dwarfed by The Angel of the North in Gateshead a handful of times whilst on our travels to the Northeast, and I don’t think we’ll ever tire of seeing it. Designed by Anthony Gormley, construction begin in 1994 and was completed in 1998. Constructed using corten steel, the sculpture stands 20 metres tall, with wings that measure 54 metres across. This means it is taller than four double decker buses and it has a wingspan almost as big as a Boeing 747. It’s enormous! Gormley angled the wings 3.5 degrees forward to create “a sense of embrace”.
The Angel stands on a hill just to the north of Birtley, overlooking the A1 and the A167, which runs into Tyneside. (map) It also overlooks the East Coast Main Line rail route, south of the site of Team Colliery. The location of The Angel is very exposed so the sculpture was built to withstand winds of over 100 mph. Consequently foundations containing 600 tonnes of concrete anchor the sculpture to rock 70 feet below. It was made in three parts at a steel fabricators and then transported to site by road….this was no mean feat as the body weighs 100 tonnes and two wings weigh 50 tonnes each!
If you are travelling in this neck of the woods The Angel of the North is well worth a visit. You can easily see it up ahead from the A1. (streetview) If you are heading north it seems to get bigger as you get closer, but if you are travelling south it seems to get smaller as you near it, because from a distance you can appreciate how The Angel towers over the trees, but as you get closer perspective makes the trees look larger and The Angel appears to hide from you. Or so it seemed to me! To make a pit stop on your journey really adds very little to your drive as it sits right next to the main road. It is clearly signposted. If you need it the address is: Durham Road, Low Eighton, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE9 6AA.
There is a free car park close to the base of The Angel, (streetview) and enough green space to let your dog have a good run too. There are no ticket booths, or turnstiles…visiting is free. You simply park up and go and say hello to him! It’s awesome! And to make things even better, every time we have visited there has been a swanky coffee wagon open selling hot drinks and scrummy cookies.
For the green-fingered among you, there is unique species of daffodil named after the Angel of the North due to its orange, rusty colour and it’s height. Narcissus ‘Angel of the North’ has been verified and registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. And another useless fact: He’s known locally as The Gateshead Flasher!