Investigation after fire at former Cramlington middle school

Firefighters called to battle blaze at Parkside Middle School in early hours of Saturday

Investigations are ongoing after a fire broke out in an empty Northumberland school over the weekend.

Firefighters were called to the site of the former Parkside Middle School in Cramlington, Northumberland, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The school, in the Village Square area of the town, has been empty since closing in 2008 when middle school functions in the town were transferred to Cramlington Learning Village, ending a 99-year history of education at the site.

Parkside was one of four middle schools in Cramlington to close in 2008 when the first tranche of the county’s 44 middle schools were consigned to the history books under the controversial switch to two-tier education.

It has been empty ever since but is now earmarked for housing development.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the fire at the former school at 4.17am on Saturday, June 21.

Three fire engines and the aerial ladder platform were at the scene and two jets and a hose rail were used to battle the blaze, which is believed to have caused extensive damage.

A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “A fire investigation is being carried out, the cause of the fire is unknown. The police were informed as well.”

The school site was bought by Taylor Wimpey North East who have submitted a planning application for 34 family homes on the site of the former school. Proposals include the demolition of the existing school building and associated outbuildings.

Demolition work started in April while the company await a planning decision. They hope to build 34 family homes, of which 10 are affordable homes, and regenerate brownfield land.

This is not the first time there has been trouble at the empty school, in 2010 a teenager was arrested by police investigating the theft of metal the school building.

Raiders broke in and stole copper piping.

Other empty schools in South East Northumberland have also been targeted by vandals who have set fire to the abandoned buildings.

In 2011 residents living beside Wensleydale Middle School in Blyth petitioned to have the school demolished after claiming they were tormented by anti-social behaviour.

The school closed in 2009 as part of the reorganisation and residents said there had been problems since the closure with vandalism and even arson when a fire broke out in the main building and the caretaker’s house.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer