WORK has begun on the transformation of an iconic South Shields building into a seafront fish restaurant creating 35 new jobs.
Gandhi’s Temple on Sea Road was originally built as a community seating shelter and public toilets in 1931 and later used as bandstand – although no-one knows how its name came about.
Now award-winning South Shields family fish and chip business Colmans has embarked on a seven-figure investment which will transform it into a seafood restaurant.
Sunderland firm Brims Construction has been contracted to undertake to work, which will lead to the creation of Colmans Seafood Temple.
Owners Richard and Frances Ord and sons Dominic and Richard (Junior), say they are thrilled to be transforming one of the resorts most famous buildings, saying the new restaurant will open for business next spring.
Richard, senior, said: “I love the idea of restoring a piece of our town’s history and heritage too. It is a fantastic site and somewhere we feel we can make a real impact.
“We are eager to create a restaurant which engages with those that live, work and visit South Shields.
“The Colmans Seafood Temple will offer everyday quality and value for money, featuring a cocktail and oyster bar and a takeaway which will, of course, serve our famous fish and chips.”
Colmans, was established by Mr Ord’s great grandfather as Frankie’s in a hut on the beach in 1905 – just a stone’s throw away from Gandhi’s Temple.
It has won countless awards, including Best Restaurant in the National Fish and Chip Awards, and is now based on Ocean Road where it employs 35 people with a further 35 jobs expected at the new development.
Jason Wood, director at Brims Construction, said: “We are very proud to be involved in the transformation of such an iconic landmark into a new family seafood restaurant, cocktail bar and takeaway.”
He said the stone constructed bandstand will form the western part of the new building with a new extension on the seaward side.
Richard Ord, junior, added: “No-one quite knows how it got the name. It really is an iconic building that had fallen into a very poor state of repair.
“For many years we have thought about what we could do to transform it before coming up with what, we believe, is the ideal project, and we are pleased to see South Tyneside Council and the town rally to support our plans.”
The shelter sits on the eastern side of Sea Road, adjacent to Sandhaven Beach and Gypsies Green Stadium, South Shields.