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The Marsden Grotto, South Shields

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The Marsden Grotto, locally known as The Grotto, is a public house located on the coast at Marsden in South Shields, Tyne & Wear, England. The pub is one of the very few 'cave bars' in Europe, other 'cave bars' include the Caves of Xoroi in Menorca. The Grotto is now a pub/restaurant serving mainly seafood.The Grotto is partly dug into the cliff face and fronted with a more conventional building opening onto the beach.Currently The Grotto includes a large bar, the inside cave with another bar and pool room, a bistro, a heated terrace on the beach and a full restaurant upstairs. Access is either by lift from the car park or by a zigzag staircase on the cliff at the side of the building. The lift is housed in a brick shaft rising from the front of the building.History of the GrottoJack the BlasterA lead miner from Allendale, Jack Bates and his wife Jessie moved to the area in 1782. It is alleged he moved into a small cave at Marsden Rock either after refusing to pay rent on his house in Allendale or simply having nowhere to live. Using explosives from a local quarry, he blasted the small cave into a much larger one, earning his nickname "Jack the Blaster" in the process and creating a rent-free and landlord-free home. The dwelling was accessed by zig-zagging stairs down the cliff, thought to be built by Jack. The unusual and eccentric choice of dwelling attracted visitors, which the couple supplied with refreshments at a cost. It is suggested that he became involved in smuggling activities - offering refreshment to smugglers using caves of the coastline to hide contraband cargo.
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  • On a trip to the north-east brought family members here with a rave description of the bay, the stacks and the lift down to the cafĂ©. Placards in the car park advertised food available all day. We had...  more »
  • Followed the signs saying serving food all day everyday, paid for the car park, walked down the cliff path to find everything locked up on the beach. Disgusted, made a diversion from our trip to Edinb...  more »
  • I wish I had won the lottery to spend a million on this Famous Marsden Grotto. It is now a Grotty Grotto, litter, dog poo ,vandalism and graffiti along the front of the paved area. Over 50 years ago w...  more »