The Ghost of Estella
-Estella’s connection to Saltwell was so strong that some say she never really left and on the darkest nights an ethereal apparition of a Victorian girl, playing with fantastical celestial creatures, can be seen amongst the undergrowth of the Saltwell Dene.
The Ghost of Estella was commissioned by NGI for Enchanted Parks 2014.
The project was developed on the theme of The Stargazer of Saltwell.
The striking roofline of Saltwell Towers, with its cluster of fairytale turrets, is often dismissed as Victorian Gothic whimsy. There is, however, a more intriguingexplanation for its design. Built by William Wailes in 1862, the roof was intendedas an unconventional schoolroom and playground for his youngest and most beloved daughter Estella.Estella was a determined but isolated child who, from a young age, had an obsession with stargazing. Keen to keep her close, Wailes had Saltwell Towers designed such that its roof could be her observatory. Over time Estella’s passion for the stars grew. She studied, observed, measured,drew and collected with a growing mania for astronomy and astrology. From her diaries we know that she was preoccupied with finding a way to fly into space where she felt she could live more freely.To many Estella was misguided, a dreamer searching for meaning in the mythology of the stars. However, others say she was decades ahead of her time and even claim that she succeeded in launching a rocket from Saltwell Park. There are certainly accounts of a stormy night over Gateshead when a ball of light was seen hurtling into the sky with a deafening roar. But space travel in Victorian times is impossible to imagine……isn’t it?