Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

South Shields premier political blog

Wouldhave House, South Shields

with 20 comments

wouldhave house south shieldsWhy all of the big fuss?

I cannot understand why the decision of South Tyneside Council to demolish Wouldhave House in the Market Place, South Shields has caused such verbose reaction amongst some of the regular readers of The Shields Gazette (from whom I link to this picture). It is an eyesore, it belongs in a bygone era when buildings needed to be erected quickly and cheaply after wartime damage, function was of far more importance than style or context, and for many years two sides of our Market Place have looked distinctly “out of place”. It’s architecture resembles post war East Germany and we were left with buildings that one could not in all honestly be proud of, but they served a purpose.

The regeneration of the riverside and the Rekendyke Ward has been something that this council of ours, and this blog, have been talking about for at least four years now, and only recently are we starting to see some solid forms rising on land that has been under-used, I actually believe that many of us will eventually get to like the design of the new BT South Tyneside HQ on Harton Staithes, its overall shape evokes the history of the river and its strong links to shipbuilding and repair, especially being so close to docks that once thrived with activity. Its two triangular shaped frontages resemble two giant hulls and point in the general direction of the two docks , Brigham and Cowans and Middle Dock, which operated nearby. We also have a new supermarket in Coronation Street which sympathetically matches the designs of new shops in Waterloo Square and the BT building (many square panels of glass.)

Houses are in the process of being constructed opposite the site of the old Eureka public house in Frederick Street, and much land has been cleared ready for development along the riverside former site of Middle Docks and the former site of Plessey/Circatex. It is good to see, at last, that some progress is being seen to be made, one constant criticism I have made of South Tyneside Labour Council has been its ability to drag its feet on town development, although I must concede in this case that many parcels of land needed to be bought up to make available for developers and this does take some time.

I wonder how many of the verbose critics in the local paper took the time to involve themselves in the consultations which began in 2007 and offered some views or opinions as to how they wanted the future shape of South Shields to evolve?  I wonder too if the constant shrill calls for free car parking are really the answer that we all seek to regenerating the borough’s economic viability and our ability to attract and retain visitors, I think that we have already proven that our parking charges are modest in comparison with our neighbours and that new pay and display areas are not succeeding in turning visitors away! You won’t find hundreds of free car parks in North Shields or Tynemouth, but the shops are still there!

For a while, as Janis Blower rightly asserts, we will have another wide open vista of the riverside which people will be reluctant to lose, but lose it we must! We must hope to find a developer who can create a modern scheme with a traditional background that should include retail units, cafes and restaurants, pubs, and commercial opportunities above and around. For those of you who have visited Hartlepool Marina, I hope you were impressed by the presentation of shops and hotel on the seaward side, I think it is a smart development with its iron palisade and glass covering, attractive enough for a visitor to take an interest in and filled with a good variety of outlets, I honestly could live with something like that on one (or even two) sides of our Market Place. However, what is vitally important to attract the right developer is that the land is available, serviced, and ready to build upon, there is little sense in leaving the north side of the Market Place as it is, it will not attract interest and postponing demolition will only increase the cost needlessly.

Lets get it down while we can, and be determined not to place a car park on it!

What form of development would readers like to see on the north side of South Shields Market Place?

Do readers believe that free parking is the answer to our many problems?

How best should South Tyneside prepare for an eventual upturn in the local economy?

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Written by curly

August 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm

20 Responses

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  1. I agree – it’s long overdue for redevelopment. I can’t understand those people who are opposed to the project – even some councillors. I know there’s an issue about the council tax-payer funding the demolition, but we’ve got to take it on the chin at some point and take the initiative. Ideally the project would help connect King Street, The Market and The River, maybe with a partially glass structure so visitors could see through to the river from the Market, and see through to the Market from the river – imagine the sight of the Old Town Hall, lit up at night, from the River or across at North Shields. A sight which would be equally visible from Ocean Road. The Old Town Hall: a Beacon.

    I would also like to see the new structure as a low carbon building; low energy use, generating much of it’s own energy and constructed from low impact materials.

    This could also be used as an opportunity to make the market place less victim to the weather – perhaps with at least partial roofing with movable roof panels which open in good weather.

    And let’s not get bogged down with creating a chocolate-box faux Victoriana wrought-iron and glass homage to ‘the good olde days’ – it’s the 21st Century, time for our own generation to put it’s stamp on the market square.


    August 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    • While applauding the positive approach to improve the town centre my concern is the likely timescale of any redevelopment. We all have memories of how long it took to get any development on the Harton Staithes site, (and even then it was only with council funding); while the ASDA redevelopment was also a long drawn out affair. How long has the Hebburn town centre redevelopment been just around the corner ?

      My concern is also how long the market will survive, with the weather whistling down the river, once the buildings are demolished ?

      Is it necessary to demolish the buildings before any proposals are agreed, even in outline, shopping throughout King Street will be even less of a winter experience if subject to a wind tunnel from the river to the sea.


      August 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm

  2. Good riddance to it. My preference would be for a complete redevelopment of all the buildings surrounding the market place. Although I can see a lot of potential difficulties in that, I can’t imagine they are any greater than those faced by Gateshead and Newcastle when they redeveloped their riversides.


    August 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm

  3. Should’ve been flattened donkeys ago. As for those people moaning about the ‘eyesore’ that is the BT building, are they on glue? Surely they can’t prefer the previous view they had, of semi- dilapidated buildings that housed, amongst others, a second hand household goods shop, a second hand record/tapes shop and a greasy spoon cafe!

    Neil Newton

    August 26, 2011 at 1:27 am

  4. At last a chance to cover over the Market square, a chance to build something modern and iconic that might last for the next hundred years, something using solar energy to light it up at night, something that can make the whole of Tyneside bristle with pride.
    As for car parking, have these people been to the sea front this summer, we’ve had plenty of visitors, cars, motor bikes, buses, etc. all quite willing to pay so it seems.

    Dolly Peel

    August 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

  5. Just a thought. Would it be possible for someone to publish a picture of the BT building as it stands at the present time and alongside it the “Artist’s impression” that was issued at the time of the Public Consultation?

    Mr Micawber

    August 26, 2011 at 9:49 am

  6. Good point from Bryan about Gateshead and Newcastle. I work along the Quayside near the Millenium bridge and the whole area is a fantastic mix of architecture. The South Shields gloom merchants would be horrified. I sometimes get the impression that nothing will ever please them.
    One Whiteleas Councillor told me how he spoke to someone on the estate who was bemoaning the loss of the view now the BT building was going up. The person in question he put it ‘had never been past the Red Duster for 25 years.’ I get sick of the negativity when anything remotely different is projected.
    To defend the eyesore that is Wouldhave House takes the biscuit.


    August 26, 2011 at 7:09 pm

  7. Our “virtual reality” councillor supports the removal of this “eyesore”; no doubt during his sojourn in the sunny, garden citified home counties, he will have absorbed some ideas and visions for the regeneration of ST. Seriously, we need a regeneration web and blog site where locals from all walks of life can promote and discuss ideas for this vital task; contributors to this site are doing their best.


    August 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    • Hope he can remember what Cleadon Village looks like by time he settles back in!


      September 2, 2011 at 12:58 am

      • XYZ up 3.2 and ABCD trailing by 70.9, er what pavements need mending in EB or traffic speeds monitoring, excuse me whilst I check if Tokyo Rose is up or down first…


        September 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

  8. In an attempt to divert you from politics, see

    Harry Barnes

    September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    • Great links Harry thanks for bringing them here. How many caps did Lev Yashin have, other than the one on his head and the two on his knees? The interview with the “Clown Prince” is a joy!
      Hope you are well Harry.


      September 2, 2011 at 12:55 am

  9. I am all for sporting diversions, so here is another one; congratulations to a David, who has brought credit to ST, namely prop forward David Wilson, a South Shields youngster who has been selected for the England Rugby World Cup Squad. David looks as though he could demolish Wouldhave House.


    September 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    • Lets hope he can demolish a few All Black and Springbok forwards!


      September 2, 2011 at 12:57 am

  10. If the Brian Redhead story about Shack taking a penalty against Frank Swift is correct, then this probably happened when Shack played for Newcastle. For Shack’s first game for Sunderland was on 14 February 1948 and he does seem to have scored against Manchester City until 25 August 1951. He scored a hat trick that day in the greatest game I ever saw him play. But Bert Trautman was in goal for Man City and not Frank Swift. One goal was from a penalty, but he hit it with the side of his foot making it look as if he was going to hit it in the other direction and Trautman failed to reach it. There are photos of the goal and the technique he used (and a description) in my signed copy of his “Clown Prince of Soccer”. Yet I can find no reference to the incident described by Brian Redead, which I would have expected Shack to cover. Unless perhaps it happened in a friendly game, but these were unusual until the days of floodlights.

    Harry Barnes

    September 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

  11. Thanks for that LL.B, Curly. Alas absence can be the most expressive form of presence.

    David potts

    September 3, 2011 at 12:18 am

  12. Surely the twittering of confidential, speculative information about a local government officer breaches the Councillor’s code of practice? Once again I am aghast at the fact that instead of the North Eastern tradition of growing prize winning leeks the new “culture” appears to be the spinning of leaks . As regards the blog thread, perhaps Channel 4’s Ruth Watson could provide some helpful input into the planning process for the Wouldhave House, Market area’s redevelopment and regeneration; I support the green friendly technology, maritime/ shipbuilding tradition acknowledging, covered marketplace schools of thought. How about involving local youngsters in the process through Schools, Youth Groups etc…


    September 3, 2011 at 11:19 am

  13. FOR CLARIFICATION; check out Councillor Khan’s recent tweetings.


    September 3, 2011 at 11:29 am

  14. Curly, I could’nt agree more with your regeneration article. I fail to understand why anyone would harbour any sympathetic thoughts on retaining Woodhave House. You were also spot on with regard to the negotiations being at times complex, which do unfortunately lead to very little progress in the early stages of any project. I also share your views about the new BT building. like you, I believe we will only begin to see it in its full glory when the scaffold and hoardings have been removed, and when its set against a background of quality public space between the BT building and Customs House, that will become the new riverside Staiths Park. Let us too not underestimate the positive impact the BT Logo will make for our borough and South Shields in particular. May I also congratulate those that has contributed to your article. It is really refreshing to read balanced and positive comments for a change, and refreshing to read that there are others out there with similar views about the vision for our town.

    Michael Clare

    September 5, 2011 at 1:15 am

  15. This is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very accurate information… Thanks for
    sharing this one. A must read post!

    November 21, 2014 at 2:14 pm

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