‘Museum sleepover’ events approved at Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields

A popular heritage attraction in South Shields has won permission to host ‘museum sleepover’ camping events within its grounds.

By Chris Binding
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:50 pm
Arbeia Roman Fort West Gate.

Built in around 160 AD, Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort stood guard at the entrance to the River Tyne and was a key military supply base to other forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

As an important part of the history of Roman Britain, the museum attraction combines excavated remains of the original fort with full-scale reconstructions of Roman buildings.

Visitors can also see stories of the period brought to life through events and displays – from gladiator battles and falconry demonstrations to re-enactments and storytelling.

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Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort Picture: Google

The site, which is managed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, is now looking to expand its offer to include a unique camping experience for paying visitors.

This includes curated events aimed at families where customers can stay in a tent overnight within the museum’s grounds.

As part of the plans, museum bosses applied to South Tyneside Council for a “lawful development certificate for a proposed campsite for tent camping only.”

This included permission for a maximum of 60 units with each single overnight event running between 4pm on Saturday and 12pm on Sunday.

Arbeia Fort

The events, described as museum sleepovers, would be limited to a maximum of 10 occasions per year.

According to an application form submitted to the council, the plans will also represent an “extension of the museum’s existing offer” with visitors able to camp on one of the two large grassed areas to the north and south of the site.

Alongside strict limits on attendee numbers, the events would be monitored by security staff and safety marshals to manage nuisance, litter and noise.

Temporary structures would also be brought in for events such as “portable toilets, showers and some form of fire pit.”

A statement provided with the planning application stressed that the land would be returned to its original condition when not being used for camping events.

South Tyneside Council’s planning department granted permission for the campsite use on Tuesday, July 20.

The application form from museum chiefs goes on to say: “We will be utilising a much loved outdoor space to encourage visitors to remain in South Tyneside by camping overnight.

“We are sure it will also engage the imagination of our local communities to attend and foster within them a sense of belonging, space and well-being.

“Lights out would be at 11pm. We would have overnight security and safety marshals to manage nuisance, noise littering etc.

“These events will be aimed at family bubbles to ensure Covid-19 guidance and safeguarding can be maintained.”

Following the planning decision, Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort bosses confirmed they were exploring options for next year to provide a “different type of visitor experience of the World Heritage Site.”

For more information on the plans, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference number: ST/0353/21/CLP

Details on upcoming events at Arbeia can also be found on the heritage attraction’s official website here: arbeiaromanfort.org.uk

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