A futuristic building at the heart of a £100m masterplan for the transformation of South Shields Town Centre is fast becoming a reality.
The distinctive circular shape of The Word (the North East Centre for the Written Word), a new town library and digital hub, is now clearly recognisable as work continues apace on the three-storey building in Ferry Street.
Townsfolk have been witnessing the face of the town centre changing before their eyes since building work started on the site five months ago.
Contractors Bowmer and Kirkland were appointed by South Tyneside Council and developer Muse to undertake the construction of the complex.
The building has always been seen as the focal point for ‘South Shields 365’, a decade-long vision to transform the town with future plans also including a new cinema and restaurants in Chapter Row and Barrington Street, a transport interchange on the site of the town’s existing post office and sorting office and a new retail quarter at the rear of Fowler Street.
The work is also being carried out alongside the ongoing modernisation of the nearby Market Place, which is being covered by a canopy to protect traders and shoppers from inclement weather.
Construction of The Word, which started in April, is currently bang on schedule, with a completion date inked in for autumn next year.
At that point the building will house a library and interactive exhibition space, and provide a home for local writing talent. In addition there will be a range of other facilities, including exhibition space, computer gaming area, design and innovation studio with 3D printers, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children’s storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite, cafe and a rooftop restaurant and terrace – providing stunning views over the river.
Councillor John Anglin, the council’s lead member for Regeneration and Economy, said the building was “coming to life before our eyes”.
He said: “It’s great news that this important regeneration project which we believe will boost the economic prosperity of the town centre is progressing so well and is on track to be completed next autumn.
“It is really exciting to see the building take shape and come to life before our eyes.”