“Back in summer 2015 I had the absolute pleasure of making a short documentary film called Romance in the Dome. Working with local oral historian Dr Kath Smith, we interviewed couples and widowers who had met their future husbands and wives at Whitley Bay’s Spanish City over 60 years ago. At that time the Dome’s Empress Ballroom was the place to be, and we were keen to uncover and preserve some precious memories before they were gone forever. At the time of making the film, the Dome was still very much an eyesore, but restoration plans were beginning to come together.
Two years later, we were asked by North Tyneside Council to produce another documentary as part of their Heritage Lottery-funded Spanish City restoration project. After a number of planning meetings in the Linskill Centre cafe, home to Kath Smith’s organisation Remembering the Past, Resourcing the Future, we decided on the angle we were going to take. Aware that a number of people were filming and photographing the restoration project from the outside (and from the sky!), we were keen to capture the inside story. Who were the people responsible for painstakingly restoring the balustrades? How have some of the heritage trades evolved over time? What did it mean to the local workforce to be part of such an iconic restoration project? Robertson, the company responsible for the project, were amazingly accommodating and we were able to gain access to the building and the staff as the work progressed. Pete from Eye of the Tyne Photography captured some stunning images and the documentary came together just in time for the Spanish City opening weekend last month.