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Gandhi's Temple

A 1930s structure which formerly doubled as a bandstand and public lavatories on the headland at South Shields has undergone a remarkable transformation into a striking seafood restaurant with a distinctive nautical flavour.

Known locally as “Gandhi’s Temple” the prominent structure has been incorporated into the new restaurant with the addition of a new extension echoing the prow of a ship.

Links with the historical Indian political leader are said to be non-existent, although it is thought that maybe the "naming" of the structure upon its completion in 1931 co-incided with a visit to the UK by Gandhi.

Over recent years, the Grade II listed “temple” had deteriorated badly and it was only when Colmans, a well- known local family of fish & chip restaurateurs, looked into the possibility of saving it as part of a new development that the building’s future was secured.

Sunderland-based Fitz Architects Ltd initially designed a smaller scale concept for a fish and chip outlet, which was subsequently developed into a more adventurous scheme giving rise to the final ship-like building with a steel framed new build bow end facing out to sea and the original 1930s structure extensively restored to provide the landward “stern” of the building.

Architectural Technologist Paul McDonnell explains that the shape and form of the building was a result of curving the facade to protect the views of the sea from the main coastal road in South Shields, resulting in a ship-like structure.

The steel-framed structure has been protected using a Parextherm Acrylic External Wall Insulation System capable of withstanding the rigours of the North Sea coastal climate. The base substrate of 12.5mm Siniat Weather Defence Board has been mechanically fixed to the frame, followed by the application of 140mm Carbon impregnated Expanded Polystyrene insulation adhesively secured using Parex Maite.

A further application of Maite was then used to provide the base coat along with a layer of Parex 355 AVU Mesh to give added reinforcement. Applicators Winlaton Plastering then applied a Parex Acrylic finish, which was selected to complement the maritime appearance of
the building. To enhance protection of the render, two coats of Parex Paraguard clear weatherproofing were then applied.

Paul McDonnell added that the choice of the Parex system was based on previous experience and the need for a through-coloured render system capable of providing adequate protection for the exposed environment.

The Seafood Temple is a second outlet in the area for Colmans who have a history spanning back to the turn of the last century when the Italian great grandfather of current owner Richard Ord arrived in England and set up a wooden stall on the South Shield foreshore. By the late 1930s they had built the business into a 400-seater Lido Café which was requisitioned for use by the Royal Marines during the Second World War. Unfortunately its size made it a target for the Luftwaffe and it was bombed out. They then opened in Ocean Road, South Shields, where they still operate today.

Client:                          Colmans Seafood Temple
Architect:                     Fitz Architects, Sunderland.
Main Contractor:       Brims  Construction, Sunderland.
Specialist Applicator: Winlaton  Plastering Services Ltd, Blaydon-on-Tyne.

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High strength reinforcement mesh which has ETAG and BBA approval.