South Shields seafront pub makes the grade as revamp takes shape

Marsden Grotto
Marsden Grotto

A South Tyneside pub - which is built into beach caves - has been named one of the UK’s 20 best.

The Marsden Grotto, currently undergoing a £500,000 refurbishment, made the grade with the Sunday Times travel guide - ranking it in its newly-published best beachside bars list.

Grotto owner Terry Maughan

Grotto owner Terry Maughan

Grotto owner Terry Maughan, 51, said the recognition comes just over a month before the first phase of its redevelopment is due to be completed.

He expects six of 10 planned bedrooms being built in the previously disused first floor to be open by the end of August.

Mr Maughan said: “It’s great that the Grotto has been named in this list of the 20 best beach front bars in the UK.

“Anyone who knows the Grotto can’t fail to recognise just what a unique drinking and dining experience it brings.

“It appears that it is well-known not just throughout the North East, as I already knew, but also across the country.

“This recognition comes at a time when the Grotto is getting an upgrade which will make it even more special.

“The first hotel rooms are planned to be open by the end of August, but we are just in the first year of what is a three-year improvement programme.”

The guide described the Grotto as being ‘homely with a touch of bling, with chandeliers slung from the vaulted ceiling and banquettes along the rough-hewn walls’.

It added: “The cave ‘proper’ now opens out onto a clutch of 20th-century buildings.

“Inside, stories of hauntings abound, while outside there’s a heated outdoor terrace right on the private pebbly beach.”

Mr Maughan bought the Grotto in spring 2017 and soon after announced his development plans.

A further four rooms are expected to be open by around Christmas or early in the new year, ending the second phase of the project.

Mr Maughan runs the Grotto through his Northumberland Castle and Country Lodgings Ltd company.

It also operates The Sun Hotel at Warkworth, and the Manor House Hotel on Holy Island, both Northumberland.

South Tyneside Council granted planning permission despite initial concerns about the possible impact of building work at the environmentally sensitive location.

The Grotto sits within the Durham Coast special area of conservation and the Durham Coast site of special scientific interest.

It is also close to designated sites of importance, including the Northumberland Coast special area of protection, The Leas, Marsden Lime Kilns, and Lizard Lane Cutting.

Throughout the development, the Grotto’s ground floor restaurant and bar have remained open for business.