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South Shields? It’s like Ibiza!

with 10 comments

Beach party, South Shields

End of school party

Is there more we can do?

South Shields is such a great place when the weather is warm and sunny, it is a magnet for visitors and tourists as I found out yesterday. I’d only intended picking up a few pictures of the pier and the beach for South Shields Daily Pictures when I bumped into this crowd behind the skateboard park on Sandhaven beach you could easily imagine that you were at a beach party in Ibiza! The sands were busy, as were the parks, and  funfair,  people of all ages just having fun in the sun.

This group were attracting a lot of attention purely because of their numbers, I’d estimate that there were about 130 of them in total, all aged around 16 or 17, they were a little bit noisy but not to the extent that they were annoying anyone else, some were drinking alcohol (just as we did at their age) but they certainly weren’t drunk at 5:00 p.m., they had no music with them but made up for it with their own singing and dancing. In fact I thought they’d been deliberately brought down here as some form of free entertainment. It turned out that they were all from the Gateshead area, many from the St. Thomas Moore school and were celebrating the end of their school time, they are now just hanging around waiting for exam results or college/job offers, so they got together on Facebook and travelled down to South Shields on the Metro to enjoy our beaches. A similar but more “organised” rave had been advertised on Facebook to take place in Tynemouth, but it was not this group.

I also found a group of elderly visitors who were staying in Jesmond, they were from Guildford in Surrey and they too had taken the Metro to see what we had to offer, they didn’t mind the kids at all but were very critical of the “Americanisation” of the end of school life with the introduction of horrendously expensive “proms” in the UK, arguing that some parents were spending almost as much om a prom night as they might for a daughter’s wedding! Curiously these four southerners were very surprised at all of the green open spaces, they revelled at the South Marine Park, they could see the Leas but thought they were a little too far away to walk, they had this horribly preconceived idea that South Shields was a dirty industrialised place, but had come along at the recommendation of the hotelier in Newcastle. Needless to say, once they were informed of our summer activities they are planning to return!

I couldn’t help thinking about the missed selling opportunities, if you were in Ibiza or some Mediterranean beach resort you would find lots of stalls and vendors along the sea front area, you might be offered cheap watches, jewellery, chilled drinks, chilled fresh fruit, beach clothing, surf boards, skateboards, sandwiches, toys, souvenirs etc. There is very little of these activities along our beaches in South Shields, apart from a few outlets in the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park. We have a lot of spare capacity in our Market stalls and I just wonder if there may be a demand on an ad-hoc basis to hire a stall to set up on the promenade behind Sea Road to sell wares to our visitors. I cannot help feeling that we don’t allow sufficient ice cream/chips/hot dog/drinks vendors to bring their vans down to the promenade for a small fee.

This is a seaside town we need to create the seaside “theatre”, visitors are transitory and we need to really strike out to reach them if we want them to keep returning.

Even the kids in the picture above have money to spend, they probably spent up to £25 each on their day out at the seaside, that’s around £3000 worth of trade, this is what secures jobs and livelihoods. Where is the entrepreneurial drive of South Tyneside businesses and retailers?

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Written by curly

May 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

10 Responses

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  1. I firmly believe that it is a lack of vision by dinosaurs in the town hall and amongst townsfolk themselves, that is a ball and chain to progress. Here’s my ideas, for what it’s worth, about what we should do with Shields. First and foremost, the council should make every effort to purchase the private properties in King Street. Then, low rent and rates could be used as an incentive to attract a more diverse range of traders who otherwise couldn’t afford to rent a space in a prime shopping area (what’s better, a load of empty big storefronts, or lots of thriving small shopfronts?) The council would recoup their initial investment over many years of a busy main shopping area. Next, we should bring trams back, from say Ghandi’s Temple, along Ocean Road, up King Street then all the way along the soon to be redeveloped Middle Dock area. As part of that redevelopment there could be space for a park and Ride scheme. A theatre should be built, a dedicated live music venue, more cafes, more diverse restaurants, more theme days on the Market. Shields cannot live in the past, promote the town as a modern, vibrant town that is focused on arts, music, culture, crafts. Forget the ships and the pits and woolworths and chocolate box victoriana..those days are long gone.

    Neil Newton

    May 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

  2. This is the sort of thinking that should be blogged and tweeted by those councillors, or ex councillors who receive so many mentions by Curly and other contributors to this blog. Out with bunga, bunga, jibey, jibey and in with vision, vision.

    Sear's Crossing

    May 27, 2012 at 4:34 am

  3. Curly, I have lived in Scotland since the sixties and I think the four southern visitors’ preconceived idea of Shields is all too common. About five years ago I was chatting to a friend whose grandson had just completed in the Great North Run and my friend commented how terribly impressed he had been with Shields, the sands, the parks and the open spaces. It just wasn’t what he had expected. And that’s the problem. Shields has an image which is so often not in line with reality and Alan Myers in his website (http://www.sclews.me.uk/myers.html) has a short piece on Shields which says it all.

    But even locally in the north east the competition from other towns overshadows Shields. I know a couple, not from the north east, who have lived to the west of Newcastle for many years and like most people once the weather is good a trip to the coast is a must. But for them the coast is always, and inevitably, Whitley Bay or Tynemouth. In forty years they have never been to South Shields, nor do they have any intention of seeing what it might be like. I don’t know quite how you get over this image problem. Perhaps better publicity, perhaps making better use of what is already there – such as the Market Place which could be so attractive but which usually disappoints!

    Emel

    May 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

  4. A few years back I had to arrange some accommodation for a person from Head Office who had a meeting on South Tyneside. Arranged for her to stay at the LittleHaven and her visit coincided with a spell of glorious weather. She could not believe how nice the place was..
    I know South Tyneside advertise in the holiday sections of newspapers and the Great North Run also shows the area off but the majority of our visitors are still Day Trippers from other parts of the North East.
    .

    Ispy

    May 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

  5. Rather an interesting article about Whitby and what it has done..

    http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/outdoors/travel/town-that-will-not-die-1-3409983

    and if you can find a copy of the Yorkshire Post the full article is in that.

    cached_web

    May 28, 2012 at 9:18 am

    • Most folk still look at South Shields as a day visit rather than anything longer; until this emphasis is changed, by whoever, I reluctantly feel that the town as a tourism centre will continue to tread water !

      CHERRY BEAR

      May 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

  6. A narrow guage railway from Sunderland to Shields across the Lees would help in the summer to link both towns

    avatar

    May 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    • What’s wrong with the metro?

      Neil Newton

      May 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm

  7. Avatar is spot on with this idea, as I recall there was a standard gauge railway that followed that route; if viable it would be picturesque and showcase the coastline. I enjoy E bus rides, when I have the time.This thread is generating ideas, much better than trying to analyse or discuss Potts and Khan behaviour, which, sadly does not always reflect well upon ST.

    Sear's Crossing

    May 30, 2012 at 8:29 am

  8. South Shields is a lovely small seaside Town, with beutiful beaches, open spaces a lovely park, a roman Fort,not to mention friendly people, it boasts some lovely guest houses, that give you a very warm welcolm to me it,s perfect as it is why spoil it by commercialising it, yes i,m bias ilve in the midlands but i have relations in Shields i visit every year because i love it so much, a lot of my holidays were spent in Tyne Dock when i was young, and i even loved the back lanes where we used to play , they have some lovely memoris for me i was quite upset when they pulled them all down, and built souless new houses,and yes thats progress you,ll all say. and you,d be right i guess i just dont like change.

    Barbara

    June 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm


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