WATCH: Special tours go behind the scenes at Spanish City
A handful of lucky residents have been given a unique chance to see work restoring an iconic building.
North Tyneside Council, along with developer Robertson Construction, have opened the doors to the Spanish City Dome.
Over today and tomorrow, 90 people have been given the chance to see the restoration project up close.
The guided tours allow people to see the work carried out so far on the Grade II-listed building and the plans for the future.
Among the key work taken place so far is the removal of the first floor ceiling in the rotunda.
It is the first time since 1914 that the area has been opened up.
The Dome, which took just 18 weeks to build in 1910, is seen as the centre piece of the £36m Whitley Bay Seafront Masterplan.
Chris Price, of Robertson, was delighted that people could see the work so far.
He said: “The reaction from local people has been fantastic. Even people walking past have been stopping to ask about the work.
“There is an amazing amount of interest generated, I haven’t seen anything like it.
“The Dome has been in a state of disrepair for so long, it’s going to bring it back to Whitley Bay.”
He added: “We’ve done a lot of research into how the building used to look. It’s been a challenging but interesting job, not something we do every day.
“We’ve taken the building back to its shell. We’ve demolished one of the extensions and have begun the groundwork on the two new wings at the front.”
Robertson are hoping to have finished the work on the Dome by spring 2018 and hand the building over to new operators Kymel.
Kymel chief executive Kyle Mackings says they already have a number of businesses lined up ready to move in.
There will be two seafood restaurants – one a champagne and oyster themed bar while the other will be operated by Trenchers. There will also be a wedding and conference facility, ice cream shop and fish and chip takeaway.
He said: “It’s been fantastic to see the work so far.
“We are hoping to have it all open by Summer 2018. We are looking to put high quality family-friendly venues here for Whitley Bay residents and visitors as a whole.
“The wedding and conferencing facilities is not something readily available in North Tyneside.
“People as a whole are excited about the project.”
North Tyneside Council were inundated with requests from people to see the project, which has been designed by ADP Architecture.
Mayor Norma Redfearn was delighted with the interest shown and said there would be more tours in the future.
She said: “I always feel as though this Dome and North Tyneside belongs to the people, it’s part of their heritage.
“I would like to see the development grow, it’s going to be amazing. People are going to be extra proud.
“I have seen comments from people asking if any work is taking place behind the walls. I want the public to follow the journey, seeing how its growing and developing.
“There has been a lot of interest from businesses wanting to get involved.
“Restaurants and businesses as a whole are moving into Whitley Bay.
“But we haven’t got to forget about the people who live here. They have had to put up with eyesores in the town but now we are doing something.”
The restoration comes after North Tyneside Council successfully secured £3.47m of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The council has invested £4m and also secured a Coastal Communities Fund grant of more than £2.5m.