Wide Wednesday: History - The Spanish City

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Whitley (now "Whitley Bay") was a large village with a growing tourist industry in what is now North Tyneside. Charles Enderton, who already had a travelling troupe of entertainers in the Isle of Man called The Toreadors, created a "North East Toreadors" group to perform in Whitley Park. They performed on temporary stages in a fenced area which they painted with Spanish street scenes, hence the naming of the area "The Spanish City". Fairground rides were added in 1908 and in 1910 this grand entrance to it was built in 4 months using a revolutionary reinforced concrete technique: it officially opened on 14 May 1910. At the time the dome was the second largest in the UK, only St Paul's cathedral dome being larger.

The area has had a chequered history since then. In WW1 it was occupied by the military and left in a poor state, but it was renovated and converted into a ballroom in 1920. In WW2 it was feared that it was too good a landmark for enemy aircraft so it was painted in camouflage paint! Soldiers were billeted there and had a narrow escape when a bombing raid destroyed nearby buildings.

After the war the fairground was brought back to life, and I can remember riding on the wooden roller coaster (now demolished) as a child - probably in the early 1960s. Between the 1970s and late 1990s its fortunes deteriorated and in 2002 the last tenants moved out of the building. (I do recall playing Laser Quest there in about 1994 though, when I helped to transport our Son #1's school class there for a game.) Demolition was threatened.

Happily it was recently decided to restore the building - and indeed the whole area, at a cost of £10 million - and in 2018 it re-opened as  leisure area with cafe, Fish and Chip restaurant, fine-dining restaurant and an event space.

There's more info here. Many thanks to RockArea for hosting Widwed again this week.

While we were at Whitley Bay this afternoon I took some more wildlife photos for the course I'm doing - hence the extra of a curlew coming in to land.

Sign in or get an account to comment.