Spanish City; a History

Spanish City Whitley Bay Seafront Development North East

In the early 1900’s Charles Elderton created the first part of Spanish City’s rich history when he chose Whitley Bay as the spot for his successful dancing troop, the Toreadors. The group would perform to crowds within a fenced area painted with Spanish scenes, thus providing inspiration for the famous moniker we’re familiar with today.

The spectacle was a huge success and by the 30th May 1908 the original Spanish City fairground was ready to be launched, ‘before a great assembly of the public’ with records stating that thousands eagerly awaited the opening, each paying 2d. for entry. Within the courtyard, a marketplace was erected where customers could buy anything and everything, including Spanish novelties, never before seen in the North-Eastern town.

In the years that immediately followed, various outdoor rides were built alongside the performance area and Elderton’s vision expanded with the revolutionary white dome, then known as Pleasure Gardens, being established in 1912.

The dome was designed by Newcastle-based architectural firm Cackett & Burns Dick, the group behind The Laing Art Gallery, Tyne Bridge Towers and Newcastle University Students’ Union. With such a stunning history and exceptional features, it’s no surprise that the building received the accreditation of becoming Grade II listed in February 1986.

The venue was originally designed to house a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom but to keep up with trends of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s the site enjoyed continual redevelopment. The Empress Ball Room, illuminations, full fairground, bingo hall, children’s amusement arcade, Penthouse Lounge Bar, Lazer Quest, BMX track and a nightclub have been highlights of the last 100 years.

With such an exciting past, entrenched in local history, the next chapter of Spanish City’s glorious story is sure to be something special. We look forward to experiencing it with you.


Spanish City Whitley Bay History Seafront Entertainment

Jonathan Minns

J.Minns Design, 20 Heatherburn Court, Newton Aycliffe, , DL5 4UY