A “number of bids” have gone in to transform one of Newcastle’s most historic buildings.

The famous Keelmen’s Hospital in City Road was put up for sale earlier this year, in the hope of a developer turning it into housing or a hotel.

The 320-year-old building, which is Grade- II* listed, has lain empty for years and is classed as being at-risk by Historic England.

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It was most recently used as student accommodation but its original purpose was as an almshouse, offering care to sick and ageing keelmen, their widows, and families.

The keelmen worked on keels, large wooden shallow-draught boats, which carried coal from the banks of the Tyne out to waiting ships that were too big to travel up the river.

Newcastle City Council put the building, which boasts a domed clock tower overlooking the Quayside, up for sale in February.

It was put on the market alongside the neighbouring Men’s Palace, owned by the Salvation Army, with the hope that both could be redeveloped as a single project.

Bids for the derelict sites closed in April and city council chiefs say they have received a number of offers from as yet unspecified parties.

A council spokesperson confirmed: “In February of this year the council put the former Keelmen’s Hospital up for sale.

“We have received a number of bids and are currently assessing them to see if they meet our tender criteria.”

Concerns were raised in March by a Liberal Democrat councillor that the poor state of the Keelmen’s Hospital could put off potential buyers.

Pauline Allen claimed that the site looked “rundown and neglected” with vegetation growing out of its walls, accusing the council of not looking after it “in the way that it deserves”.

The hospital opened in 1701 and had been funded by the city’s 1,600 keelmen themselves at a cost of £2,000, with each crew giving one penny per tide from their wages.

It has been disused since 2009 and its redevelopment was described as “a fantastic opportunity for someone with imagination and creativity”.

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