A PIECE of North Tyneside history is now just rubble and memories after bulldozers began knocking down Wallsend Boys’ Club’s Station Road headquarters yesterday.
The demolition of the building, just outside of Wallsend Town Centre, comes after it was deemed unsafe at the start of the year.
Gale-force winds caused one of the walls to collapse in January, and a resulting survey revealed that the rest of the building, constructed in 1964, was no longer fit for use.
Wallsend Boys’ Club is known nationally for the world-class footballers it has produced over the years, such as England and Newcastle United stars Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley, and is also valued locally for the work it does with young people, giving them a place to go of an evening instead of hanging around on the streets.
Chairman Steve Dale was at the site on Wednesday to see the demolition begin and told of his sadness at seeing an era end.
He said: “It’s a very sad day. It’s 47 years as our home, and before that, from 1938, when the original huts were here.
“Lots of generations of youngsters went through, and they have got wonderful memories of the place, and so have we. It’s a real crossroads for the club today.”
Club president Peter Kirkley added: “Although my main interest is the football, the club has always been in my heart, and the lads that are standing about here today, having them say they do not know what they are going to do now, is very depressing.
The end of an era for Wallsend also means the end of the careers of the staff who worked there, with all seven people employed in its youth provision programme now facing redundancy.
The damage to the site coincided with funding coming to an end from external organisations, but the club’s trustees are working on a recovery plan and hope to find a new home and secure additional funding for youth provision.
Ashleigh Harrison was formerly a regular at the club, and the 16-year-old was there to see its walls come down on Wednesday.
She said: “I used to come here every night, and you could just chill out and there were different activities that you could do. It’s heartbreaking.
“Everyone has so many memories, and you made so many friends. There’s nothing to do now this has gone.
Looking to the future, the club has launched an appeal, including an online petition and donation scheme, to try to gather the funding it needs to pay for a new home.
The club’s new Bigges Main site remains open.
For more information, visit www.wallsendboysclub.co.uk