Changing face of South Shields' coastline as major Marsden Bay project presses ahead

A project aiming to improve and preserve access to a popular coastal spot in South Tyneside is under way.

Work is pressing ahead on the major project at Marsden Bay
Work is pressing ahead on the major project at Marsden Bay

Demolition work has begun on the disused former Marsden Lifeguard Station, canoe store and lower section of Redwell Steps at Marsden Bay, as part of a £440,000 partnership project between South Tyneside Council and the National Trust.

The old lifeguard and canoe store buildings have been closed for many years and over this time, their condition has deteriorated with the structures at increased risk of collapse.

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Although Redwell Steps have been repaired previously, the concrete remains susceptible to ongoing natural coastal erosion.

Redwell Steps at Marsden Bay restoration improvements.

Following the demolition works, the lower steps will be replaced with a new structure providing a safe and sustainable access to the beach – with construction work planned for next year.

Cllr Joan Atkinson, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, welcomed progress at the site.

“Marsden Bay is a real gem, much-loved by residents and visitors alike for its dramatic cliffs and stunning rock formations,” she said.

“The area is also known as home to one of England’s most important seabird colonies.

The landmark steps and structures are gone

“The carefully planned removal of the redundant lifeguard station and canoe store will not only help us to safeguard these species but return this part of the coastline to a more natural environment.”

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She added: “The lower steps are also particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion so they will be replaced with a more sustainable timber and steel structure.

“It is important to preserve access to the bay so that people can continue to enjoy this beautiful stretch of our coastline in the future.”

Planning permission was granted last year with demolition work scheduled to avoid disturbing birds during the breeding and nesting seasons.

Redwell Steps at Marsden Bay restoration improvements.
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Access to Marsden Bay from Camel Island and the Marsden Grotto is being maintained during the course of the works, with visitors to the bay advised to check tide times and follow advice on staying safe at the seaside.

Eric Wilton, general manager for the National Trust Souter Lighthouse and the Leas added: “We’re delighted to be working with South Tyneside Council to improve and secure long-term access to Marsden Bay.

“Now more so than ever, access to nature and outdoor spaces is important for the health and wellbeing of communities, and we’re committed to ensuring residents and visitors to South Tyneside are able to enjoy the benefits of this special landscape for years to come.”

Earlier this year, partners secured £100,000 towards the project costs, thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund award of £2.78million to the Tyne to Tees, Shores and Seas Partnership scheme.

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How the new steps will look

The £5million scheme, also known as Seascapes, will deliver 23 community projects both on-shore and beneath the sea, from South Shields to Teesmouth, over the next four years.

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Redwell Steps at Marsden Bay restoration improvements.
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Redwell Steps at Marsden Bay restoration improvements.