Dome Of Memories – Whitley Bay Spanish City. 9-12th Sept.


A partially refurbished Spanish City Dome opened its doors last week to an eager public after being left to fall into shameful neglect for years. The iconic, grand old lady of Whitley Bay was opened for four days to mark its one hundredth anniversary. The free event was attended by over twelve thousand people, some who queued round the block for hours to get in and testament to how much this building is ingrained in the psyche of the north east.  The million pound face lift, now means that the building is finally weather tight, though it still looks like many millions could still be spent, to restore it to anywhere near its former glory. Don’t get me wrong it’s a million pounds better than it was. But if you look closely you’ll see the hoardings and false stuck on windows and a look behind the scenes reveals hastily boarded up openings, crumbling plaster and a glimpse at the massive restoration project yet to be undertaken.

It was both fascinating and emotionally draining at the same time, an exceptional  audio visual exhibition on the ground floor by Black Dog with moving image by Primate Productions, catalogued the timeline of its hundred year history. From the travelling Pierrots and Toreadors, through the heady dance hall days, the spectacular fun fair and it’s gradual sorry slide into decay. This building has certainly lived a full life, and it has oh so many stories to tell. Everywhere I went I heard people reminiscing. It seemed everyone had a tale to tell, to anyone that would listen, and there where many. From the guy who’s parents had their first kiss there, to the school child who was quite frankly mortified to find out that they had knocked down a rollercoaster to build his primary school.

From the central exhibition space, you can take a trip upstairs into the actual magnificent vaulted dome. Limited to a hundred and fifty at a time, due to structural limitations, it gave a real glimpse of its opulent past. There was a photographic exhibition on the walls of “decay”, by Rebecca Davis, which I’ll skim past so as not to offend anyone, but in all fairness, it would have had to have been a bloody good show to do justice to the space it was in.

But then if you were willing to queue once more… you got to go behind the scenes yet again and climb up to the roof, for spectacular unseen views along the coastline. Dazzled by the whiteness, the spectacular dome set against a clouded white sky and the white vinyl roof membrane. More reminiscent of the Med than the North Sea. Truly amazing.

We only hope the Local Authority finally take note at just how popular and loved this building is and the countless memories that are written into its very fabric.

We understand that due to unprecedented popularity for this event, the Dome will be opening its doors for a second weekend, so… if you missed it you’ve got another chance this weekend, Saturday the 18th and Sunday 19th to catch it.

By Dave on September 13, 2010

Check out all the pics

4 Comments » RSS Comment Feed

  1. Can’t help but notice the way the council stayed at arms length from this event until they realised it was a success… they’re now taking full credit of course, noticed the full page ad in the Guardian. A real shame the way this building has been neglected. View from the roof was amazing.

    Comment by Layla — September 16, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

  2. I hope that at last the council will fulfil the potential of the dome. The number of visitors to the open weekend, and I suspect many of them locals, shows how much we would like this to happen. For many flying into Newcastle airport, it is a landmark easily spotted from the air, and I for one, would like to look down on it with pride as a place I live. salx

    Comment by Sally Pearson — September 30, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

  3. Great exhibition in a fantastic building! It seems to have gone quiet again, but PLEASE – no casinos!

    I have heard rumours that there is going to be a book based on the exhibition. Come on, North Tyneside, let’s have it! Rob, Whitby.

    Comment by Rob — December 27, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  4. Hi Rob, a book based on the exhibition is indeed planned, and could very well be in print as we speak, though I understand in limited numbers.

    Comment by Dave — December 30, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

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