Restoration scheme for Spanish City approved by North Tyneside councillors

The Spanish City in Whitley Bay is set to be returned to its 1910 appearance as restoration plans have been backed by councillors

Lib - First look around the famous Spanish City Dome in Whitley Bay which has been refurbished...Pic by Iain Buist.

The clock will be turned back more than a century through a restoration scheme for the landmark symbol of a seaside town.

Details of the plan for the Spanish City at Whitley Bay have been backed by North Tyneside councillors and will return the listed building to how it looked when it opened in 1910.

The plans represent a significant step towards the conclusion of the saga which has surrounded the future of the Dome and will see the reinstatement of previously-removed 1910 features.

The council had already made the building wind and waterproof and painted the Dome itself while the redevelopment of the surrounding area has been debated. The coastal road which ran in front of the Dome and cut it off from the seafront Links has also been diverted around the back of the building.

Earlier this year a public plaza was laid out in place of the road at the front of the Spanish City.


Now attention has turned to the building itself, with plans to bring back prominent features such as the decorative tops to the columns on either side of the Dome.

The towers, on which stand the Dome’s copper dancing girls statues, had their tops removed and were shortened by 15ft in the 1970s.

The statues were restored and put back on top of the short towers in 2010.

But now they will stand down again while the decorative cupola tower crowns are restored.

Loggias - or terraced platforms - will also be rebuilt above the bullding’s ground floor shops. In the past people would walk on to the terraces from the cafe inside the Rotunda, or Dome, and sit out to enjoy the views but the colonnaded loggias were removed in 1971-73.

The original style of ground floor shop fronts, and windows and doors, will return, using details taken from salvaged items, plus historic photographs and plans.

Later additions to the building will be removed, such as a west extension and a steel staircase. A rear entrance to the building will also be provided.

Last December the council was awarded a £182,700 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the restoration strategy.

A second stage bid will now be made for £3.5m to help finance the work.

It is hoped that if the second HLF bid is approved, work can start in April next year and be completed in 2016.

A marketing brochure for the building to attract potential users will be out next week.

This follows approval for proposed uses, which include retail units and cafe on the Promenade level and community and/or leisure uses on the ground and first floors.

A conservation plan for the Spanish City by the North of England Civic Trust, says the complex has “high architectural significance” at a local, regional and national level as a prominent, high quality piece of Edwardian architecture.

It goes on to say that the Spanish City is “crucial to understanding the local history of Whitley Bay, as it stands shoulder to shoulder with other seaside pleasure buildings around the country, giving it high historic significance.

“The Spanish City also has high social and community significance at a local level. It provides a notable identity for the community, being used through the decades to promote and identify the town.”

When it opened in 1910, the Spanish City was a collection of seaside pleasure buildings and grounds, including a theatre, shops, leisure and amusement and ride attractions, with the Dome’s rotunda hall the central feature.

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