For over 100 years it has been a place for walking, dancing, relaxing, playing and socialising. The park is a popular destination for tourists, day trippers, schools and community groups alike.
The park was designed by Matthew Hall, the Borough's surveyor and Engineer. John Peebles was appointed head gardener in 1886 and immediately set about creating the park that we know today out of the old waste spoil tips, or 'ballast hills'. Remarkably, his diary, in which he reported on progress in the park every month to the Parks Committee, has survived. This diary proved to be an invaluable resource when planning the park's restoration. The Park construction cost £20,000 and was opened by Sir John Mowbray, an Ecclesiastical Commissioner and formerly MP for Durham on 25 June 1890.
South Marine Park is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by English Heritage for its special historic interest. A chain of three municipal seaside parks (including North Marine and Bents Park) developed from the 1870s and into the early 20th Century on reclaimed land.
One of South Tyneside's favourite parks has reopened after major restoration work. The terrace has been repaired and the stonework restored to its original design when the park first opened in 1890. The impressive 'Park Ladies' have been given a new paint finish and are once again in pride of place looking over the mouth of the Tyne ready to welcome visitors to the terrace.
New benches incorporating wrought iron squirrels, mice and griffins have been installed on the terrace and are based on photographic evidence of the exact seats in place when the park first opened.
The return of the bandstand is another significant addition, it is a replica of the original Macfarlane's of Glasgow model that was first erected in 1904 it can be lit up for special occasions as the original would have been. Other improvements include new layout and pathways, planting and a restored waterfall.
The restoration project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and South Tyneside Council.
Fun in the park
The park also has attractions that appeal to a younger audience thanks to the new play area complete with water play features and adventure climbing frames.
A firm favourite with all ages is the boating lake. As well as enjoying a leisurely row or pedal around the lake, visitors can get up close to a huge number of swans, ducks and geese who have made the park their home.
For those who prefer to let the train take the strain, the miniature steam railway operates throughout the main season and this is a great way for young and old to see more of the park. Find out more about the history, opening times and prices: miniature steam railway.
Visitors to South Marine Park can follow an art trail featuring ten sculptures reflecting the heritage and natural environment of the park.
Local school children worked with artists to develop the pieces, one of which depicts a magical mythical creature who the youngsters imagined may once have inhabited the park.
Friends of South and North Marine Park
The Friends of the North and South Marine Parks were formed in 2007 as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of the South Marine Park. They are a very active group of volunteers who work closely with the Council and partners to protect and develop our seafront parks. They organise a number of events, from litter picks to petanque, walks to live music. Find out more about the Friends of North and South Marine Parks.