Investigation launched as historic South Shields building damaged in bank holiday blaze

A much-loved historic building in South Shields has been damaged in a blaze over the bank holiday weekend.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 3:44 pm

An investigation is underway after the Grade II-listed Victoria Hall building in Fowler Street, South Shields, suffered damage to its roof following a fire late on Saturday, May 29.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue (TWFRS) crews were on the scene at Fowler Street for around four hours after being called to the incident shortly before 11pm.

An unmarked police car was parked outside the building – which has been empty for years – on the morning of Sunday May, 30. The damage to the historic structure's roof can be seen prominently on the town's skyline.

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A stretch of the lane next to the building, which runs behind Beach Road, has been cordoned off, and fragments of roof tile and other masonry could be seen scattered on the ground.

TWFRS confirmed to the Gazette that an investigation into the fire is now underway, with Northumbria Police supporting the fire service’s inquiries.

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A statement from TWFRS, issued shortly after 3am on Sunday on social media, said: "Crews have dealt with a building fire on Fowler Street in South Shields.

The roof damage is prominent on the town's skyline.

"Four appliances, one aerial ladder platform and two officers have been in attendance for the last several hours.

"The incident is now concluded and our appliances are beginning to leave.”

The building, consisting previously of a public hall with offices and shops, was built in 1896 with alterations in the 20th Century.

It was built in the renaissance revival style, and is topped off with an octagonal two-storey, domed tower.

The roof of the Grade II-listed building has been damaged in the fire. Picture top left: Liam Christopher Walker.

Historic England lists a number of its ornate external features as significant, as well as its impressive plaster work inside.

The building has housed several businesses over the decades, including Italian restaurants Casa Rosa and La Rossa in recent years.

Drugs farms been uncovered on the premises twice following police raids in 2014 and 2019.

In February 2014, the former La Rossa restaurant was raided by police, who uncovered a large scale cannabis farm with an estimated crop value of £150,000.

A police cordon in place on Sunday morning.

Thanks to Liam Christopher Walker for the pictures and video of the fire.

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The fire service sent four appliances to Fowler Street. Picture: Liam Christopher Walker.
The fire was extinguished by 3am, the fire service said. Picture: Liam Christopher Walker.