Tynemouth exhibition celebrates 130 years of Children North East

The Tynemouth Station Exhibition

Over the past three months, thousands of residents, commuters and visitors using Tynemouth Metro Station have found a surprise waiting for them.

At the heart of the beautiful station canopies, as travellers cross the iconic footbridge, a history of Children North East in the seaside town is on display to the public.

In collaboration with Vistry Partnerships and Mott MacDonald, the Tynemouth exhibition is part of the charity’s 130th Anniversary celebrations and shares insights into the early beach trips of the 1890’s and its infamous Sandcastle Challenge.

The exhibition was thought up as a creative way to keep alive the legacy of the Sandcastle Challenge, which has been run for over 25 years, after the pandemic stopped it from going ahead in 2021. The annual Challenge usually sees over 1,700 children descend onto Tynemouth beach to show off their building skills and compete for a coveted trophy, with local businesses teaming up to provide a helping hand.

Hayley Bell, Social Value Coordinator at Vistry Partnerships, commented, “We have been proud supporters of the Challenge for the last eight years, so it felt important to work with Children North East to celebrate the Sandcastle Challenge during their Anniversary year. Vistry are passionate about playing an active role in local communities and it spoke to those values to remind people that the community is still here, even if we can’t be on the beach together building sandcastles.”

In the spirit of the challenge, schools were asked to build bridges, with the winning designs included as part of the exhibition display. Students from Broadway Junior School in Sunderland, Cotherstone Primary School in Barnard Castle and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Jarrow took the top prizes.

One student commented, “We made solar panels to light up the bridge at dusk and at midnight, if anyone wanted to do a midnight bridge walk! It was really good fun making the bridge and we are very proud!”

Bridges were chosen for the challenge, not just because of the location of the exhibition, but because long-term supporters of the challenge Mott MacDonald are gearing up to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of another North East icon which they designed: The Tyne Bridge.

Leanne Nicholson, Business Development and Marketing Lead at Mott MacDonald, comments, “It’s been great to see students across the North East harness the spirit of Sandcastle Challenge by putting their problem-solving and creativity to the test in the bridge challenge. Mott MacDonald believe that the bright young minds of today will be the inventors and engineers of the future, which is why we choose to support organisations like Children North East, that work to give every child the best possible stat in life.”

If you would like to see the exhibition, it will be running until the end of January 2022 at Tynemouth Station footbridge.