HERITAGE: New use for toilet block?

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A lot has been discussed over the past few months regarding the amount of history and heritage that south east Northumberland possesses.

From our rich mining history to the old glassworks at Seaton Sluice, our small corner of Northumberland has a plethora of heartwarming stories that define who we have become as a community and we should celebrate this history.

It is not just modern history that should be preserved, and the latest social media campaign that I have been interested in revolves around the old toilets at Croft Park in Blyth.

The campaign, spearheaded by UKIP councillor Barry Elliot, wants to “save the building, its character, its history”.

This is a pretty strong reference for what is essentially a redundant public toilet.

What I think Coun Elliot is alluding to is the artwork on the building, which celebrates the time that Blyth hosted the Tour of Britain and Bradley Wiggins took centre stage.

However, we do not need to preserve an old set of toilets to celebrate this.

Yes, the site celebrates Blyth’s sporting history, and the artwork should certainly be preserved in some way, but to do that we do not need to retain the toilets in their entirety.

Considering the location, right on a cycle path, the site would be much better put to use as a cycling hub with basic facilities.

A few benches would allow passing cyclists to take a rest. A water fountain would offer them somewhere to refill their bottles.

And the centrepiece would be the retained artwork, which would continue to brighten up that particular corner of the playing fields.

I can see the argument that we want to retain certain aspects of our heritage, however sometimes we do have to move forward and evolve, creating a new heritage that our descendants can enjoy.

Saying that, there is no reason why a site such as this cannot evolve whilst retaining its sentimental value and be regenerated for people to enjoy for years to come.

Much better than another patch of grass?

David Cockburn

The North East Party, Northumberland Branch