After Sophie and I visited Tynemouth Market, we went for a wander to Whitley bay, to see the renovated Spanish City.
It opened in 1910 as a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom and was a smaller version of Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach. A ballroom was added in 1920 and later on a permanent funfair. It had a Renaissance-style frontage and became known for its distinctive dome, now a Grade II listed building.
There were shops and cafes inside, a roof garden, and the Empress Theatre, with seating for 1,400 on the floor and 400 on the balcony. The Empress Ballroom was added in 1920, and the Rotunda in 1921. In 1979 the Rotunda was converted into the Starlight Rooms for live entertainment. Dire Straits, Sting, and Christopher Cross a few of the notable performers.
In June 2011 ADP Architects won a commission to regenerate the Spanish City with a plan that included a 50-bed, four-star boutique hotel, 20 apartments, a 1950s diner and a pleasure garden. The completion date was announced as 2014, but work was halted in 2013 because of a lack of funds. The project received a grant of £3.7m from theHeritage Lottery Fund in November 2013. The building re-opened in July 2018.
Family-friendly venues, a high-quality steak and seafood restaurant, tearooms, event spaces and a champagne bar take permanent homes inside.
The front of the building actually looks out over the sea, and we went outside to photograph the seafront, but it was bliddy cold and windy so didn’t stay long!