Spanish City restored to former glory
After standing empty for more than 15 years, the Spanish City dome in Whitley Bay has now opened its doors as a leisure hub and I couldn’t wait to check it out on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Renovations started at the Grade II-listed building back in September 2016 and contractors have since restored original features, added new extensions and other facilities so it can be used as a fine dining and leisure venue.
And I have to say it looks beautiful.
The North East’s answer to the “Taj Mahal” (apparently) dates back to 1910, and now has a Champagne bar, traditional tearooms, waffle and pancake house, fish and chip restaurant and takeaway as well as an event space.
North Tyneside Council spent around £4m on the restoration scheme and secured grants of £3.47m from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and more than £2.5m from the Coastal Communities Fund.
I really hope this renovation injects life back into this part of the lovely North East coast.
Steve had never seen the dome and this was number 5 on our Valentine’s dates list; so on a sunny afternoon armed with my new (pre-loved camera) we headed to the coast to check it out and grab some pictures.
Spanish City was in decline for many years but in its glory days it was a top tourist attraction and I think we’re all hoping it regains this status once more.
Both inside and out you can see just how much hard work has been put into the restoration. The dome is gleaming white once again and stands as a proud beacon looking down on the golden sandy shoreline.
It was great to see so many people – locals and obvious tourists – enjoying themselves inside the building. We didn’t have anything to eat on this occasion but what we saw looked delicious.
The beach beneath is perfect for families and has lifeguards too. It wasn’t as busy as I thought it might be – but there’s so much choice for families this summer across the North East with all of the Great Exhibition of the North events taking place.
To the left of Spanish City out toward the sea you can see the iconic St. Mary’s Lighthouse; which is now a visitor centre. It stands on its own island and features a nature reserve and wetland habitat. It’s well worth a visit.
The first time Steve came up to Newcastle and met my family we went here for the afternoon so it has fond memories for us.
I loved seeing the kite enthusiasts entertaining the small crowds with their impressive skills and tricks.
We had a lovely afternoon walking along the beach and taking in that fresh salty sea air.
As we’d eaten fish and chips for tea the night before we couldn’t leave the seaside without an ice cream so we joined the ever-growing queue at Di Meo’s.
The award-winning ice-cream parlour is always popular but it’s worth the wait. We didn’t sit inside but instead enjoyed our ice cream’s sat outside. They offer lots of flavours and different cones but we went with the old faithful – mint chocolate chip for Steve and Belgium chocolate for me. Yummy!
Steve parked a good mile away in a free car park in West Monkseaton so we had a leisurely stroll back to the car to work off those ice-cream calories.
I really hope Spanish City and Whitley Bay itself starts to attract more visitors and further investment. I’ve heard nothing but good things about lots of the restaurants in the town so I’m sure the hubby and I will be returning soon to check them out.
Where is Spanish City?
Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay,
Tyne and Wear, NE26 1BG
It’s just eight miles east of Newcastle. Not too far away there is also Tynemouth, Cullercoats, North Shields and Wallsend.
If you’d like to find out more about Spanish City and see what events are taking place visit the website here. You can even get married here – imagine those wedding pictures!
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