A project to return the park to its original Victorian splendour, as well as introduce new features, was completed in 2021.
The project involved:
creating a new themed play area, which reflects the Borough's maritime links and Roman heritage along with a new adult fitness trim trail
reconstruction of the grotto and the reinstatement of the historic arrangement pathways and seats
reinstatement of the Grand Staircase using historic photos including lion heads on the piers
reshaping the embankment to provide an accessible for all ramped path, in line with the historic maps and photos
refurbishment of the bowling clubhouse and park pavilions
improvements to the Pier Parade and Beacon entrances, including reinstating railings, stone copings and gate piers
Sea Road boundary repairs, reinstatement of decorative balustrades and a new ramped entrance
new public art installations include a Word Beacon in recognition of the area's maritime and shipping heritage, as well as a low-level performance backdrop, which has been adorned with details from the ornate ironwork of the park's former bandstand
improvements to the park's open areas, furniture, lighting and footpaths
extensive soft landscape works, restoring the Victorian planting schemes
creating better links with Littlehaven Promenade and improving the area around the Lawe Top, which as the park's highest point, acts as an incredible viewing platform for the coastline, harbour and mouth of the river
The project, supported with £2.4m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, was a partnership between South Tyneside Council, Esh Construction, Southern Green landscape architects and the Friends of North and South Marine Parks, who worked closely with the Council's regeneration team.
History of the park
This park is registered under the Historic 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 Bents and South Marine Park) developed from the 1870s and into the early 20th Century on reclaimed land.
In 1855 the Health Committee of South Shields Corporation was instructed to obtain a site for recreation within the Borough, but they reported that they saw no need as the Bents, an extensive sea-dune system, and the sea beach were readily available to the public.
In 1869, a 2 hectare children's recreation ground, including a pond for sailing model boats was opened on a former brickyard and dump in South Shields.
In 1875 this was extend northwards, by incorporating 7.5 hectares of ballast hills lying south from The Lawe, an open area of headland at the mouth of the Tyne, which had been leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by the Tyne Plate Glass Company.
As The Lawe had been furnished with seas in 1862 this meant that the town was fronted on its northernmost, sea-facing side by an open expanse for recreation.
Subsequently the Corporation employed Mathew Hall, Borough Engineer and Surveyor to design the new North Marine Park, where work began in 1883.
In 1884 construction of the park offered a labour relief scheme for 200 men over several months who were employed in levelling the ballast hills.
Sir John Mowbray, an Ecclesiastical Commissioner and formerly MP for Durham opened North and South Marine Parks on 25 June 1890.