Dunston Staiths, 2013. Image: Test Dept

Seminal industrial music group Test Dept returns with a world premiere for the closing weekend of the Festival. This large-scale outdoor event takes place at the dramatic Dunston Staiths, reputed to be Europe’s largest wooden structure, which was built on the River Tyne in 1893 to ship coal from the local Durham coalfields to the world.

Test Dept bring the drama and noise of the monumental Dunston Staiths back to life in a vital sonic, cinematic and lighting intervention. Viewed from boats on the River Tyne over three nights, the event marks the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike.

Test Dept formed in 1981 and became one of the most important and influential early industrial music groups in the UK. They were renowned for high-energy live performances using unconventional instruments such as scrap metal and machinery. These unique performance environments utilised multiple slide and film projections, reinvigorating disused industrial settings.

For this event Test Dept will explore their own participation in the 1984 miners’ strike, where they engaged with mining communities and local activists on the Fuel to Fight Tour. Test Dept recorded a collaborative benefit album Shoulder to Shoulder with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir for the miners’ hardship fund.

Please note this is not a live performance.

Correction to previous advertised dates. The event takes place over the four nights of Thu 27 March – Sun 30 March 2014. Two slots are available each evening at 6.45pm and 8.15pm (Thu - Sat) and at 7.45pm and 9.15pm (Sun). The duration is approx. one hour and fifteen minutes.

Audiences will be on the outdoor deck of a boat on the River Tyne from Newcastle Quayside to Dunston Staiths and back, so please wear appropriate clothing and footwear for outdoor weather conditions. The boarding location is the River Escapes Pontoon (next to Pitcher and Piano) on Newcastle Quayside. The advertised start times are when boarding is open, the boat will depart promptly ten minutes after the boarding time, and latecomers will not be admitted. To ensure you don't miss the boat, we recommend you arrive 20min prior to the advertised start time with your ticket receipt in order for your name to be ticked off the list.

This event is not suitable for children under the age of 12. Children over the age of 12 need to be accompanied by an adult. We regret that due to the access onto the boat, this event is not suitable for wheelchairs, people with limited mobility should contact us before booking. Please email with any further questions.


Commissioned by AV Festival. World Premiere. Produced in partnership with Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust. Supported by Arts Council England, Gateshead Council, Port of Tyne, North East Film Archive and Amber.

Test Dept at Dunston Staiths


Thu 27 – Sun 30 March 2014

Thu 27 March, 6.45pm 
Thu 27 March, 8.15pm

Fri 28 March, 6.45pm
Fri 28 March, 8.15pm
Sat 29 March, 6.45pm 
Sat 29 March, 8.15pm 
Sun 30 March, 7.45pm
Sun 30 March, 9.15pm

Boarding at River Escapes Pontoon, Newcastle Quayside

Next to Pitcher and Piano
Newcastle Quayside