The Net

A NEW group has been set up to provide what it sees as the missing piece in the revival of North Shields Fish Quay.

Called The Net, the group wants to establish an open centre where the story of the history of the fish quay and how it has developed and changed can be told to visitors and school parties.

It has earmarked the historic Old Low Light building on the quay as a possible base for the centre.

Founder members of The Net include retired deputy headteacher Jan Taylor and retired headteacher Nina Brown.

The quay still has a working fish industry but has developed in recent years with a mix of restaurants and bistros to complement the traditional fish and chip outlets and pubs.

The restoration and conversion of the listed Irvin building into flats has brought a resident community back into the heart of the quay, while other buildings have been transformed into units for a variety of businesses.

The 17th Century Clifford’s Fort is also being restored and cleared of intrusive later buildings, while a 1980s brick complex which blocked views of the river mouth has been demolished and a new fish processing units park opened.

But Ms Taylor, who lives in Tynemouth and is chairman of The Net, said that a centre was needed to explain the centuries of history and how the fish quay is evolving.

The first stage of a feasibility study will see Net members canvassing public opinion during the upcoming North Shields Victorian Christmas market.

She said: “The Fish Quay has been at the heart of the life of North Shields for over 900 years. Now it is becoming a lively residential, business and social area, yet nowhere is its history and heritage celebrated.

“We want people to share their memories and have their say as to how they think the history of North Shields Fish Quay should be represented.

“In the centre we would like to see a gallery space, learning area, a venue for hire for special events, a base for guided walks and classes, a shop with local crafts for sale, a café with views across the harbour, and a sea-themed activity area for children.

“We could maintain and develop old crafts, giving them new life with new uses and purposes. There are so many exciting possibilities to explore and we need to share these ideas with the wider community and get their feedback.

“We have had massive interest and a lot of people want to see it happen. The Fish Quay is a magical place and it is my second home.”

On December 10-11, The Net is staging an event in the Nexus Travel Shop in the Beacon shopping centre in North Shields, which will include a range of activities for children and adults and a photographic exhibition of life on the Fish Quay.

Thousands of questionnaires are being printed and a website has been launched at www.thenetnorth shields.co.uk. A second consultation event will take place with businesses in February.

The Net project has the backing of North Tyneside Council and the already established FISH (Folk Interested in Shields Harbour) group.

Net also hopes to link up with Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats and the Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

We have had massive interest and a lot of people want to see it happen


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