Private beach signs at a South Tyneside beauty spot are a shore way to confuse tourists, say heritage chiefs.
The iconic Marsden Grotto pub, which is built into the cliffs at Marsden Bay, South Shields, was taken over by new management a fortnight ago.
As part of the takeover, new signs have gone up outside the pub’s exit on Coast Road, South Shields, stating that the Grotto has its own ‘Private Beach’.
However, bosses at the National Trust which owns and maintains the majority of Marsden Bay, along with The Leas above, say the signs are confusing and could frighten tourists away.
They say only a very small section of the actual beach – the stretch in front of the Grotto down the mean high tide line – actually belongs to the business.
Land Registry records also show that this is the case.
“The sign is confusing, especially for tourists.”Mick Simpson, from the National Trust,
Mick Simpson, the Trust’s warden for Whitburn and The Leas, said: “We have noticed the new signs and we are in touch with our legal teams to clarify who owns exactly what.
“But our understanding is that National Trust owns the vast majority of the beach, the Grotto owns a small stretch, the bit directly in front of the pub down to the mean high tide line.
“The sign is confusing, especially for tourists who might think they’re not allowed on the beach. But as long as the National Trust owns the vast majority of Marsden then the public will always be able to enjoy it.”
But Sharon Deehan, company director who owns the Grotto, wants to stress that while the signs do say ‘Private Beach’ they are indeed referring just to the smaller stretch of land in front of the pub.
And despite the sign saying ‘private’, everyone is welcome to use the plot.
Mrs Deehan said: “We don’t want to be discouraging anyone from visiting the beach, everyone is welcome, even dogs.
“We own the section of beach directly in front of the pub, like a front garden, and that’s what we are referring to on our signs.
“A lot of tourists who visit the pub don’t realise there is a beach down there at all, and they’re shocked when they come down, so we think we’re encouraging to people to come and enjoy it.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the Grotto and, of course, the beach.”