'Exciting' new play areas for both children and adults open in South Shields' North Marine Park - here's what to expect
Much-anticipated play areas for both children and adults are opening after extensive work at a South Shields park.
A £3.2million project to restore North Marine Park to its Victorian splendour – with some modern twists – began in 2019, with several key features such as the Grand Promenade Staircase and landmark artworks already complete.
Now a Roman and maritime-themed children’s play area and a smart new adult fitness trail are officially open to the public from Tuesday, March 23, just in time for the Easter holidays.
South Tyneside Council leader Tracey Dixon said: “We are delighted to see the wonderful new play park and trim trail opening. They not only mark key milestones in this very exciting regeneration project, but they offer additional spaces for both adults and children in this area at this time.
“Events of this past year have really demonstrated the importance and value of outdoor spaces like the beautifully restored North Marine Park, play areas and fitness opportunities and the impact they can have on our physical and mental wellbeing.
“We really hope that local people enjoy these new areas and we look forward to welcoming visitors from further afield in the future once the Government’s restrictions are relaxed.”
The new North Marine Play Park features 16 pieces of tailor-made, brightly-coloured play equipment reflecting the borough’s rich maritime heritage, as well as taking inspiration from the nearby Arbeia Roman Fort.
It comes complete with several swings, ‘shipwreck’ slides, a mast, drawbridge, see-saw, springers, multi-play climbing frames and a wheel-chair accessible roundabout.
The Proludic Vitality Trim Trail is designed for those aged 14 and over and features 11 specialist steel obstacles that enable users to enjoy free full body workouts outdoors.
The equipment includes pull-up and push-up stations, bars, hurdles and a sit-up bench, and the free Proludic Sports App works in conjunction with the new fitness trail.
Councillor Dixon did add a note of caution, however.
“We know that people will be eager to visit. But it is important to remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and right now people should not be travelling from outside the area,” she said.
“As with all our parks, local residents who choose to use play or fitness equipment are advised to use them responsibly and take precautions to keep themselves, their children, families and others safe.
"This includes carrying and using hand wipes or sanitiser, washing hands, keeping a safe distance from others and avoiding spaces if they look too busy.”
Major construction works delivered by contractor, Esh Construction, have involved reinstating some of the park’s original features such as the iconic Grand Promenade staircase, which opened in December.
Other completed works include a reconstruction of the park’s original stone grotto, the refurbishment of the bowling clubhouse and green, park pavilion, Pier Parade and Beacon entrances as well as decorative new balustrades and stone copings.
Public art installations include a Word Beacon sculpture on the Lawe Top, and an interpretation of the park’s former bandstand to create a new performance area.
New historical plaques and information boards are being placed throughout the park, including one marking the site of the former Trinity Towers building, which was built in 1810 and demolished in 1969.
Still to come are decorative urns – in the original terracotta Lion’s heads design – which will be fitted to the four corners of the striking newly restored Grand Promenade Staircase.
General landscaping and grounds maintenance works will continue throughout the spring and summer.
Councillor Dixon added: “North Marine Park has remained available for the public throughout the entire restoration project, with parts of the site reopened on a rolling programme as and when works have been completed. It has been wonderful to see.
“The site really does promise to be a fantastic attraction this summer when hopefully we will be able to showcase the park in its full glory.”
The North Marine Park restoration, supported with £2.4m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is a partnership between South Tyneside Council, Esh Construction, Southern Green landscape architects and the Friends of North and South Marine Parks, who have been working closely with the council’s regeneration team as well as dedicated parks office Jade Ridley.