Surprise for shoppers as Victorian soldier and butler serve up free cake in South Shields town centre to mark tenth anniversary of The Victorian Pantry

Shoppers got a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds when a Victorian-themed tearoom took a step back in time to celebrate its tenth anniversary.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:51 pm
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Victorian Pantry.

It has now been a decade since The Victorian Pantry set up shop inside a cosy corner of South Shields Museum & Art Gallery in Ocean Road, providing visitors with a chance to continue their dose of history while they enjoyed some refreshments served up in 19th Century style.

Time has flown since the cafe’s first day, but founder Carol Harrison wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.

Keeping with the history theme, she brought in re-enactment group the Time Bandits to help celebrate.

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The Victorian Pantry Tea Room in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery celebrates 10-year anniversary with the Time Bandits Victorian re-enactment group's Tony Hall as a Victorian war hero and Nick Dolan dressed as a Victorian butler giving out free cake.

And passersby could have been forgiven for doing a double take as a Victorian soldier and an equally anachronistic butler – played by Tony Hall as a Victorian war hero and Nick Dolan respectively – appeared in the town centre offering free cake.

Speaking ahead of the big day, Carol said: “I am so excited to celebrate this upcoming anniversary with the customers and museum visitors who have supported me and my small business over these last 10 years.”

The Victorian Pantry nostalgically re-creates the era which inspired the works of Catherine Cookson, one of South Tyneside’s most famous daughters, who is remembered heavily in the museum.

The tea room is a popular destination due to its unique theme, delicious homemade cakes, savoury treats and daily special offers, and Carol made sure the offering was particularly impressive for the museum’s big day.

The Victorian Pantry Tea Room in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery celebrates 10-year anniversary with the Time Bandits Victorian re-enactment group's Tony Hall as a Victorian war hero and Nick Dolan dressed as a Victorian butler giving out free cake.

Museum manager Geoff Woodward said: “The Victorian Pantry officially opened on 4 October 2011, and 10 years on it is still very popular with local people as well as people visiting South Shields.

"It’s a really important element of the visitor experience at the museum.”

Time Bandits is a professional team of historical costumed interpreters and re-enactors who are dedicated to bring history to life in the North East and beyond.

They work with with a wide range of public sector organisations, from schools to museums.

Carol Harrison at the Victorian Pantry Tea Room in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary with free cake for the public.

:: The Victorian Pantry Tea Room is open Monday to Saturday during museum opening hours.

To find out more about South Shields Museum & Art Gallery and The Victorian Pantry, visit https://southshieldsmuseum.org.uk/

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The Victorian Pantry Tea Room in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
Carol Harrison at the Victorian Pantry Tea Room in South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.