In Whitley Bay, we are restoring the Spanish City dome, for North Tyneside Council and in conjunction with Scape Group. We removed a suspended ceiling that was installed shortly after the dome was built, and carried out a lead paint strip, uncovering the splendid original finish.
We are carrying out major renovations out to bring the historic Whitley Bay landmark back into use. The project was designed by ADP Architecture and is being undertaken by Robertson North East. It was procured through Scape Group's National Major Works framework. Scape Group is a public sector owned built environment specialist offering a full suite of national frameworks and innovative design solutions.
It involves recreating many original features which have previously been lost and adding new modern extensions at either end.
We have returned the rotunda inside the iconic Spanish City Dome to its former glory – for the first time in over 100 years.The first milestone in the project saw the removal of the first-floor ceiling, which was installed shortly after the dome first opened in 1910 - opening up double height space from the bottom to the top of the building.
Until recently, the view from the ground level to the top of the dome itself had been obscured by scaffolding, which remained in place while other work was carried out.
But now, the scaffolding has been removed and the full extent of the dramatic transformation inside the rotunda can finally be seen.
Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “The way it looks now tells us that when it is finished it is going to be truly, truly magnificent.
“It’s more spacious and not as claustrophobic as it was – even now it’s breathtaking when you come in.
Not only will the residents be happy but we’re going to attract lots and lots of visitors. We’ve waited a long time for this to happen but we’re well on our way now.
Patrick Melia, chief executive of North Tyneside Council, added: “It’s fantastic. You walk in now and see a big open space whereas before you had that roof in - you can feel the difference.
“I’m just looking forward to the future with families coming in – I think they’ll love the whole experience.
“Just last week we heard we have the private sector investing in South Parade and bringing forward a new hotel – this is on the back of the council investment in the town which is enticing them here and this can only be a good thing for Whitley Bay and the whole of North Tyneside.”
The original blueprints for the dome were drawn up in the early 20th Century by Newcastle-based architects Cackett and Burns Dick, which later became Cackett, Burns Dick & Mackellar.
Whitley Bay architect Neil Barker was formerly a company director at Mackellar and has released historic images taken by Cackett and Burns Dick in around 1910 showing the rotunda in its original form before the first-floor ceiling was put in.
“Having lived a short distance away from the dome for over 40 years, I am thrilled to see that years of neglect are being corrected. The refurbishment and reinvention of the building will bring a new vitality to that part of the sea front.”
The council bought the building in 2001 and has since carried out £3m of essential structural repairs to the exterior to make it wind and water-tight.
The structure on the west wing of the building has also now been demolished, although all original features to the front facade have been retained. Enabling works are now ongoing on either side of the dome ready for further ground work.
Once complete, the attraction will operate as a food emporium featuring a champagne and oyster bar, as well as a function and wedding venue.