Written by Katherine Watson
On Saturday 5th March, I organised a trip for 70 John’s students to Tynemouth. This trip was partly inspired by the fantastic opportunity I had to visit Tynemouth as a fresher (in 2018), organised as a Pastoral Tutor trip by the College, as well as my dissertation research on the contested role of fishing heritage in North Shields. Having completed by undergraduate in Durham, and now in my fourth year as an MA Archaeology student, I’ve found that escaping the Durham ‘bubble’ is important for supporting one’s mental health and to appreciating all the North East has to offer. With half of attendees being 1st year undergraduates, and many others having never visited Tynemouth, it was a great opportunity to highlight how easy it is to get out of the city and what a difference interesting day trips can make to one’s term particularly during busy and stressful seasons.
Tynemouth provides the quintessential English seaside experience. Those who attended the trip had 5 hours to explore the town at their own leisure. Popular attractions included the famous art, crafts and bric-a-brac market at the station, the golden beach of Tynemouth Longsands, the mini-golf course, and the medieval priory. Many of us enjoyed perusing gift shops, and eating fish and chips by the sea, and having respite from the wind in one of Tynemouth’s cosy pubs/cafes. We were very fortunate with the weather; it was windy but the sun was shining all day.
I also provided a map with which attendees could follow a self-guided walking tour from Tynemouth to North Shields. Through this trail, I sought to illuminate the intertwining but contrasting histories of each town, and explore why Tynemouth emerged as a desirable holiday destination with stylish restaurants, hotels and gift shops, while North Shields has suffered much more heavily from deindustrialisation and is now being rapidly transformed by a surge of regeneration projects. A group of friends and I followed the tour and I enjoyed hearing their thoughts on the contested role of heritage. For example, how it serves to promote historic areas and attract investment, while simultaneously promoting gentrification and marginalising original working-class communities.
This trip was organised in association with St John’s College Postgraduate Scholarship. I am incredibly grateful to the College for facilitating this trip, and providing a coach at no cost to attendees.
Pictured left: Tynemouth to North Shields Coastal Trail Map. Right: Collingwood Monument; the fourth stop on the trail. The statue overlooks the mouth of the River Tyne and celebrates the life of Admiral Lord Collingwood, Newcastle born and Nelson’s second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar.