Apollo returns to glory

THE son of the creator of a controversial concrete landmark yesterday marked the completion of a £400,000 revamp of the structure.

The Passmore Apollo pavillion

THE son of the creator of a controversial concrete landmark yesterday marked the completion of a £400,000 revamp of the structure.

The Apollo Pavilion, at Sunny Blunts Park in Peterlee, County Durham, has undergone a six-month programme of work to reinstate the structure’s original features and rejuvenate the surrounding park area.

Built in the 1960s, the pavilion was designed by artist Victor Pasmore to symbolise post-war simplicity and harmony and named in honour of the first manned moon mission in 1969, the year the structure was built.

Yesterday John Pasmore, son of Victor, unveiled a commemorative plaque.

Despite becoming a target for vandals in recent years and the object of a demolition campaign by some residents, the structure is now recognised as an internationally significant public artwork.

Last month Tyne and Wear Museums bought an abstract artwork by Victor Pasmore for £40,000 at an auction at Newcastle’s Anderson & Garland salerooms.

Victor Pasmore was head of painting at King’s College and later Newcastle University from 1953-61.

In 1955, he became consulting director of urban and architectural design for the south west area of Peterlee New Town, designing layout and architecture for the town.

The major restoration scheme has included the replacement of a staircase giving access to the upper level of the pavilion and full restoration of the structure’s feature lighting and two original murals that include feature lighting.

The surrounding open spaces have also been re-cobbled and reed beds and plants added to the west end of the lake.

John said: “I am delighted that the Apollo Pavilion has been restored to its original state and once again reflects my father’s vision.

“The piece once more forms a focal point for the Sunny Blunts Estate as it was designed to do so.

“A lot of time and effort has gone into this project and on behalf of my family and my father I would like to thank all those who have worked hard to highlight his work at Sunny Blunts, so ensuring the vital funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

The project to restore the Apollo Pavilion will also see the appointment of a community education officer and the creation of a programme of events and activities for local residents and schools.

Eunice Huntington, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for healthier communities, said: “The refurbishment of the pavilion provides a real boost to the regeneration of this part of Peterlee and will enhance its role as a tourist destination.

“The unveiling also marks the start of an education and community programme which will promote understanding and appreciation of the pavilion.” But local councillor Joan Maslin, who has fought unsuccessfully for more than two decades for the structure to be demolished, said: “I am pleased it has been cleaned up but I would rather it had been demolished. I think it has been a waste of money from the beginning. I’m just waiting to see how long it stays as it is. I still think it is an ugly, unwanted monstrosity.”

The restoration project, which started in January, received £336,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £65,000 from the former District of Easington Council.

 
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