A PIECE of the South Tyneside coastline has been named as one of the nation’s ‘best-kept secrets’.
Marsden Bay in South Shields made the prestigious list just months after the town was named as one of the ‘30 Best Places by the Sea’ in the country.
The Times singled out Marsden, home to Marsden Rock and renowned for its seabird colonies, for having “fantastic scenery and a colourful history of smugglers, shipwrecks and ghost stories”.
It made the top 10 hidden gems of England’s coastline, chosen by Visit England and published over the weekend.
The guide said: “A stunning bay sheltered by limestone cliffs and overlooked by the 139ft high Marsden Rock, Marsden Bay is well known locally as a great place to while away a summer day or evening.
“The famous Marsden Grotto pub, hewn out of the magnesium limestone rocks in 1782 by a worker from the nearby Limestone Quarries, was a popular haunt of local smugglers as well as witnessing shipwrecks, colourful characters and all sorts of local legends. The bay is also said to be haunted by the ghost of John the Jibber, who was left suspended in a bucket halfway down the cliff face after betraying fellow smugglers to the customs men.”
The praise was welcomed by Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, who plans to make his home town the North East’s premier coastal resort.
Coun Malcolm said: “Marsden is one of the jewels in our crown, part of a spectacular coastline that attracts millions of visitors ever year.
“It’s great to see South Tyneside getting national recognition for its fantastic range of attractions, from seaside fun at South Shields to the dramatic cliffs and quieter beach at Marsden.
“The borough gets fantastic feedback from visitors but we are continuing to make major investments including a new promenade at Littlehaven beach and a stunning waterfront park at Harton Quays.”
The council plans to make 2013 a special year for the borough, with the biggest-ever programme of summer events, plus a series of major regeneration initiatives set for completion.
More than 17,000 people were at Bents Park on Sunday for a free gig from Toploader and The South, while next weekend sees cult 1980s singer Rick Astley performing.
Tickets are also on sale for Sound Waves 2013, which will feature McFly, Joe McElderry and Luminites set to appear at the park on August 25.
This year will also see completion of Haven Point, a £16m seafront pool and leisure complex, with a 25-metre pool, teaching pool, two large waterslides and a state-of-the-art gym as well as a cafe, sun terrace, outdoor performance areas and a rooftop viewing gallery.
Also under way is a £2.3m riverside park at Harton Quays, featuring a curved stone wall, promenade and amphitheatre overlooking the River Tyne.