Summer Walk Report No 13, South Shields Seafront - Tuesday 19th August 2014.


On Tuesday 19th August 2014 members met at Littlehaven, South Shields for walk number thirteen on the summer
programme. Situated at the north end of the seafront this was once the location of RAF Littlehaven, a World War
One seaplane airbase and given the right tide and weather conditions faint traces of the old landing strip, made of
wooden railway sleepers, can be found in the sands. This area has recently been refurbished with a new stepped
sea wall, promenade and coastal park. The beach has been extended and cleaned, new seating and lighting has
been installed and car parks made to attract visitors.
Starting outside the Littlehaven Hotel the first stop on our walk was the public art installation that is known locally
as " wobbly men " or " the weebles " but is actually called "Conversation Piece" by the acclaimed Spanish sculptor
Juan Munoz(1953 -1981). Consisting of twenty two bronze life size statues set on a paved area, the figures appear
to be both conversing with each other and with those that come to look at them. Members interacted with these
strange figures, dressing them with coats & cameras, hugging dancing and taking images, all to the amusement of
passers by.
Moving on we then walked a short distance to The Groyne Lighthouse that stands on Herd Groyne Pier. This bright
red lighthouse had just been painted and glowed as it was bathed in the warm evening light. Leaving the lighthouse
we headed south along the Littlehaven Beach. The turning tide and a number of small dinghys sailing in the shelter
of the piers were photographed by some, whilst others continued along the promenade, passing the trees, shrubs
and ornamental grasses of the new park where another piece of public art called " The Eye " is located. A further
artwork called " The Sail " and the new Haven Point Leisure Centre with its terracotta tiled cladding also caught
the eye. As the light changes this cladding appears to move, mirroring the waves and rippling action of the sea.

By this time members had gone in numerous directions and the south pier, the skatepark and graffiti walls, the life
brigade house, the restored "Tyne" lifeboat, and the beach amusements were amongst some of the subjects found
and photographed. As the light began to fade and the clouds rolled overhead we gathered together and walked back
towards the car park, the glow of the sunset casting a fleeting orange glow on the sea.
Refreshments and a chat in the Littlehaven Hotel rounded off a good trip to an area not previously visited by the club
as a group and a big thank you goes out to the twelve people who supported this walk.

Davy Bolam.