The Word welcomes 88,000 visitors in first two months

The Word.
The Word.
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The Word - National Centre for the Written Word - welcomed 88,000 visitors in its first two months of operation.

Meanwhile, the centre's website attracted almost 40,000 visits, and 867 new readers joined the library since October – an increase of nearly 400% compared to the same period in the old Central Library.

More than 50,000 people have now visited the Ridley Scott exhibition, which was endorsed by the man himself. Sir Ridley said he was ‘proud and humbled’ to be honoured with the exhibition in his home town.

Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, Coun Alan Kerr, said: “Tens of thousands of people have already seen for themselves what a fabulous facility The Word is.

“The fact that there has been an increase in library use among juniors, teenagers and older people alike proves what a versatile and accessible venue this is, attracting people of all ages.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the figures speak for themselves.

“We are confident that The Word will continue to grow in popularity as more and more people, from both near and far, discover the outstanding exhibitions, facilities and events on offer.”

Almost 10,000 books have been loaned and the number of teenage library users has shot up by 750%.

The venue offers a celebration of the written word through a rolling programme of exhibitions, events and workshops.

On its opening day, people queued around South Shields’ Market Place to get a first glimpse inside the circular building.

Many of the performances, including Gothic for Girls, Hoots Spell Party, Hey Presto, Jack and the Brickstalks and Halloween in 3D were sellouts.

More than 17,500 people have visited Shop @ The Word, with prints and photographs of local scenes and handcrafted goods from local artists proving particularly popular.

The striking building’s facilities include library and exhibition space, a computer gaming area, a FabLab with 3D printers and vinyl and laser cutters, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children’s immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite and a café.

The Word’s opening marked the end of phase one of the £100million South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan being delivered by South Tyneside Council and its partner, Muse Developments Ltd.

Work is now ongoing to bring forward the next phases of the scheme, the transport interchange and new retail and leisure development.

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) inquiry held in December will determine whether the council can acquire the land required for the transport interchange and retail and leisure developments.

It is anticipated that a decision will be made by the Secretary of State by April 2017.

If the Council is successful, advance works, including relocation of the Post Office and Royal Mail as well as associated demolitions and site assembly, should commence shortly after.

Work on the Transport Interchange will start in 2018 with completion in 2019.