In 1893 Tynemouth Park and Boating Lake was opened on land owned by the Duke of Northumberland and leased by Tynemouth Council. With a large pond, three bowling greens and ornamental gardens with a bandstand, the opening of Tynemouth Park attracted thousands of people including a many model boat enthusiasts. In the summer of 1893 an exhibition of model yachts was held in the Palace and Winter Garden’s aquarium. Tynemouth Model Boat Club was formed, and one of the first buildings planned for Tynemouth Park was their boat house.
Tynemouth Park is a popular place with visitors and is a hive of activity all year round with a boating lake, mini golf course and a café. Opposite the park is Blue Reef Aquarium, home to an amazing and diverse range of sea life with hundreds of exhibits on display including seahorses, sharks, stingrays and otters.
Tynemouth Model Boat Club.
The Club’s boathouse was built at a cost of £102 and 12s. It was doubled to its present size during the 1930s. One of the club’s most influential supporters was the Duke of Northumberland. The Duke’s agent helped the Club secure longer hours on the pond in 1908, seeing off the threatened dominance of rowing boats. Early model boats were mostly German-built, tinplate boats. British-made boats grew in popularity in the early 20th century. Well known manufacturers included Meccano of Liverpool and Bassett-Lowke of Northampton. They ranged from mini petrol and diesel engines to steam and sail.Radio control technology transformed the sport in the 1950s and combined with plastic manufacture the sport became affordable and more widely popular. Model boats are raced against each other at regattas. Early competitions involved straight running contests with powered boats set off one by one seeking to accurately reach a target. Modern competitions include navigating around a course set out with a series of hazards.
Tynemouth Former Outdoor Swimming Pool
Opened by the Mayor on 30th May 1925 the pool became an extremely popular attraction and major part of the seaside offer. The pool was built to provide a safe bathing spot and had terraces to accommodate up to 2000 sunbathers. Designed by the Deputy Borough Surveyor, Mr. Forrest, it was at its most popular from the 1930s through to the 1950s. Until it was closed in 1990 it played host to swimming galas, water polo and other water games, more leisurely swimming pursuits as well as beauty pageants such as Miss Tyne Tees 1971.
Tynemouth Aquarium and Winter Garden or Tynemouth Plaza was built between 1877 and 1878 at a cost of £82,000. It was a dominant feature of the coast and provided over a century of fun and entertainment until it was destroyed by fire on 10th February 1996. The top floor consisted of a glazed roof with winter gardens. The second floor housed a marine aquarium. The basement gave access to Tynemouth Longsands whilst the towers contained storage space, offices and water to flood the building in case of fire. One of the many successful events in the life of the Tynemouth Aquarium and Winter Garden was the North East Coast Exhibition of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering held in September 1882. The exhibition gathered examples of state-of-the-art maritime technologies. The response was so great that every corner of the building, and its skating rink, was filled. Exhibits ranged from a boiler scale and boxes of preserved fish to the coble used by Grace Darling in the rescue of the Forfarshire.
After only a few years of operation the building was repossessed and sold for a fraction of the build cost to a Newcastle-based company who eventually renamed it the Palace Theatre and then the Tynemouth Plaza. Tynemouth Plaza was home to the Palace Theatre in the 1920s, the Gala Land Ballroom from 1933, the Repertory Theatre and later housed a night club and restaurant. A rollerskating area became a skateboard arena in the 1970s and part of the building was occupied as an amusement arcade. During the Second World War the open air skating rink at the back was also used for ballroom dancing on summer nights. This was to help to entertain those who had ‘holidays at home’ – a war time effort to boost morale and keep people occupied. The park tennis courts and Front Street were also used in this way.