Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Whitley Bay Adventure - The End

I know you'll be sad to read that this will be the conclusion of Vivien's and my tour of Whitley Bay.  Leaving the seafront again, we were directed to turn up Marine Ave.  The seaside end of this street reflect the rather carnival aspect of the town.

This Thai restaurant looked interesting, but it has quite mixed reviews, so perhaps we'll give it a miss.   Vivien loved the elephant trunk...or maybe she was just keen to share it with her sister-in-law in Sydney who has a thing about collecting elephants.

The guide invited us to admire the newly refurbished Whitley Bay Playhouse.   It was once a movie theatre, apparently.  Would that it still was.  I was telling Vivien of its recent financial difficulties.  Personally I'm not convinced that it is viable to have a playhouse in every other village only a couple of miles apart, but I'm sure the people involved in the various playhouses would vehemently disagree with me.  We looked at the posters in the window of the playhouse and I concluded I wouldn't be visiting anytime in the near future.  Vivien, at least, had heard of some of the stars that were billed.  I told her Bill sometimes amuses himself reading what's on at the Newcastle City Hall

Whitley Bay Playhouse

You know, the ones where you are amazed to learn that they are still alive, and aghast that they are still performing?

In researching this, I have learned that the boundary between Whitley Bay and Monkseaton, another historic village is considered to be Ilfracombe Gardens.  We didn't know this at the time, but the difference between the seafront at Whitley Bay and the 'charming villa residences' in Monkseaton is obvious.  There is nothing carnival about these grand houses, which sell starting at about £575,000.  I have also since learned that Marine Avenue used to be called Seaside Lane, as it connected Monkseaton village with the coast.


Does the sight of snowdrops grab your heart?  I know they are among the earliest of the flowering bulbs, but they do give one hope that spring might actually one day appear.

I had no idea there was a park with the name Souter (like the lighthouse in Sunderland).  I'm always impressed with the checkerboard lawns of Britain's bowling greens - and of some residences, for that matter.  That is the roofline of Monkseaton metro station in the distance, another Victorian station. 

Vivien was astounded to realise how close her friend lives to this metro.  She's always visited by car in the past.  We agreed that one sees things very differently from a car.  I know my initial impressions of this area were formed by riding the Metro and bus.  I believed that everything was much further away than it was, owing to the many stops and the length of the journeys.  Many Metro stations are no more than a 10 minute walk apart.

Our guide told us to examine the stained glass art at each end of the Monkseaton metro station and so we dutifully did.  The one titled 'Shipyards' takes a bit of looking to find the prows of the ships lined up at the bottom; the yellow vertical pieces with the triangles above are the cranes used to build the ships.  Having grown up in land-locked Oklahoma, had I not ever seen the actual shipyards at Wallsend, I doubt I would have figured this out.  The silver coloured horizontal and vertical frame for the station structure doesn't help much either.

Add caption

The stain glass work titled 'Beaches' is a bit more straightforward.

Now, if one wished to follow our tour on a map, this is where you would go back to the post about Northumberland Village Homes.   As I said, the guide didn't include snooping wandering all the way down Village Court and back.  The next sight recommended by the guide was

"... the 1864 consecrated St.Paul`s Church, designed by London Architect, A. Salvin. The first vicar of the church was the Rev. R.F. Wheeler who was a founder member of the Cullercoats Volunteer Life Brigade. In his 1957 book `The Buildings of England`, Nikolaus Pevsner thought that this was “not a church of much architectural merit”. Judge for yourself."

St. Paul's parish church yard

We decided we so agreed with Pevsner as to wonder why we were looking at this building.  I took no photos of it.  However, using Google maps to retrace our steps, I realise we were in fact looking at the former Church Hall, and that the guide was referring to this St. Paul's Church, which I did photograph...sort of.***

On your left stands the Fat Ox public house which derived its name from the famous, locally reared animal which, when killed in March 1789, weighed an astounding 216 stones 8lbs. (1375 kg.).*  A large copperplate engraving of the animal by Thomas Bewick** was published the following month. 
  * That's 3,025 pounds in American.
** Thomas Bewick is a big deal around these parts. 


The 'Whitley Bay Clock' was the town's Rotary Club to celebrate their 75th anniversary.  The work was inspired by the coastal location and reflects, in its materials and structure, the engineering traditions of the area.

... the New Coliseum which was opened in 1910 and provided live entertainment until the advent of the `silent movies` in 1919, when the building was extensively altered. The ABC Company introduced the first `talkies` to the cinema in 1929 and these continued to be shown until the very last film was screened on the 1st May 1971.

Not far from this spot, at the top of South Parade, for a short while in the 1960`s the Club A Go-Go reverberated to the music of the day and on the 9th November 1963 a fledgling band played at the club. They were the Rolling Stones and as they say………the rest is history!

Vivien, Bill says these are Starlings - another form of flying rat....

We decided we were more interested in food than in a former discotheque, and so we adjourned to The Fire Station for lunch.   I had to order the superfood salad, as it included 'edamame soy beans', about which I've read but never experienced.  They were pretty good and I now read that one can buy these at Tescos or Sainsburys. 

As we turned to make our way back to the Whitley Bay metro station, I snapped this last photo of the church in the background.  I was thinking, darn, the guide didn't mention this one.  ***Using Bill's map reading skills along with several photos, turns out this is in fact St. Paul's parish church.

No wonder I always get lost in Whitley Bay...Thanks, Vivien, for the guided tour and a great day out!


Anonymous said...

The two of you crammed so much sight-seeing into this one day, or was it more than a day. Interesting to read how things have changed over time. And that ox was HUGE!

BigLittleWolf said...

Well, the façade on that restaurant is certainly engaging!

Some lovely photos, Shelley. A sense of peacefulness in looking at them.

Beryl said...

Lovely tour! (Thanks for the conversion from kg to pounds.) And Starlings as flying rats? For someone raised in the West, this was hysterical! I'm used to hearing about campaigning to keep pet cats from eating the wild birds. As if you could control your cat!

John McCoustra said...

Just a small point....
The Club A Go Go was at the top of North Parade, Not South Parade. I was lucky enough to see The Rolling Stones There, as you said in Nov. 63. In fact a group of us spoke to them on the wall outside that afternoon.