READHEAD’S Landing is the only direct public access to the river in South Shields. Now it’s earmarked for closure as part of a £180m Port of Tyne expansion plan.
Community volunteers are hoping to save this last vestige of the town’s riverside heritage.
Campaigners have released a series of images which show why this “magic place” should be retained. PAUL KELLY reports.
It’s a place where time has stood still. These pictorial images capture a ‘magical place’ which faces an uncertain future.
Readheads Landing off Commercial Road, South Shields, has served a multitude of purposes over the years.
It’s offered itself as a children’s play area, a location for photographers wanting to capture a bird’s eye view of the river and has been simply a place for quiet meditation.
But the landing’s long-term future is in grave doubt.
The Port of Tyne wants to close the restricted public right of way to push ahead with a massive renewable energy expansion plan which would see the creation of more than 1,000 jobs.
A group of volunteers – Readhead’s Landing support group – has been formed on the Facebook social media site.
Supporters are not against the port’s massive expansion plan – they only want the landing to be retained for future generations to enjoy.
And as part of their ongoing efforts to save it, they have released a series of photographic images – from the recent past – which illustrate why it has such a unique place in the hearts of townsfolk.
They show modern-day youngsters in wellington boots larking by the river’s edge, just as children had done generations before them.
There’s a photograph of swans gliding gently against an industrial backdrop and a striking black and white image of youngsters pointing in the direction of nearby cranes.
The landing may not be the most salubrious of spots but it has drawn the curious and creative for decades, being particularly popular with birdwatchers and former seafarers.
It’s that close proximity to the water which remains so rare and is why campaigners don’t want to see it vanish.
Kevin Flett, a member of the support group, said: “All we are asking is that this tiny piece of the river’s heritage is spared.
“It’s a magic place with a lovely cobbled walkway, and we want to see it retained.
“We’re sure they could design this development without the necessity of taking it away from the people of the town.”
But the campaigners face an uphill battle.
The Port of Tyne says the landing is “derelict and unsafe”.
A port spokeswoman said: “It provides extremely limited views, and now that the byway closure is needed to enable the developments to go ahead, the port has committed to provide a new landscaped area where people can have safe access to panoramic river views.”
It may be a modern and safer alternative, but campaigners would rather stick with what they’ve have got.
As Michael Wanless, another campaigner, puts it: “We can’t afford to lose this piece of history,”