NZ3572 : Spanish City - refurbishment, September 2017

taken 10 months ago, near to Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, Great Britain

Spanish City - refurbishment, September 2017
Spanish City - refurbishment, September 2017
The Spanish City was a permanent funfair in Whitley Bay, built originally without its landmark dome in 1908, as a smaller version of Blackpool's Pleasure Beach. It included a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom LinkExternal link . The building is Grade II listed LinkExternal link .

According to Mick Sharp, a graphic designer in Whitley Bay, a man named Charles Elderton, who ran Hebburn Theatre Royal at the beginning of the 20th century, first brought his ‘Toreadors’ concert party to Whitley Bay between 1904 and 1907. They performed on a temporary stage in what was then the home of Rockcliffe Rugby Club, next to Whitley Park. To protect the audience from the elements, canvas and wood awnings were built and painted to look like a Spanish village, hence the name Spanish City.

The dome, built in just 82 days, was added in 1910, and was the largest dome in the UK after St Paul’s Cathedral LinkExternal link .

Mark Knopfler shared his memories of Spanish City in the Dire Straits song “Tunnel of Love” (on the album “Making Movies”, 1980) LinkExternal link . There's a live version at Wembley Arena in 1985 on YouTube at LinkExternal link .

By the late 1990s the building had fallen into disrepair, and it was closed to the public. The council bought the building in 2001 and carried out £3m of essential structural repairs to the exterior to make it wind and water-tight. The structure on the west wing of the building has been demolished, although all original features on the front facade have been retained. LinkExternal link .

Some refurbishment was carried out between May 2008 NZ3572 : Whitley Bay - Spanish City View (photographed by Alan Heardman) and September 2010 NZ3572 : The Spanish City, Whitley Bay (photographed by Iain Lees).

In June 2011, a regeneration plan included a 50-bed, four-star boutique hotel, 20 apartments, a 1950s diner and a pleasure garden. The completion date was announced as 2014, and the building was undergoing further renovation in October 2012 NZ3572 : Spanish City, Whitley Bay (photographed by Pauline E) but work was halted in 2013 because of a lack of funds LinkExternal link .

Further refurbishment costing £10 million was approved in May 2016, funded by £3.5 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £4 million of council investment, and a donation of over £2.5 million from the Coastal Communities Fund
LinkExternal link and LinkExternal link . The work is currently in progress, and is due to finish in “Spring 2018” (delightfully vague) LinkExternal link .

Other Geograph photos of Spanish City are at LinkExternal link .
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NZ3572, 205 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Sunday, 24 September, 2017   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 27 September, 2017
Geographical Context
Sport, Leisure  Business, Retail, Services  City, Town centre  Derelict, Disused 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 3540 7271 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:2.8582N 1:26.8497W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 3547 7275
View Direction
West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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Image Type (about): geograph 
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