Littlehaven Promenade

NAME : The Cobble Sail & the Tyne Eye  DATE : 2014  CLIENT : South Tynside Council   LOCATION : Littlehaven, South Shields  PARTNERS : Oobe, Evans Concrete, Chris Brammall Ltd


Broadbent Studio and Landscape Architects Oobe were commissioned by South Tyneside Council and engineers Royal Haskoning to enhance the design of the public realm aspects of the new seawall and promenade at Littlehaven Beach.


To give a distinctive identity to a new beachfront promenade at the mouth of the Tyne.


For centuries this site has been a place from which to watch for ships returning safely home - fishing boats to the quay at North Shields, colliers to South Shields and Newcastle.  The old Northumberland folk song Blow the Wind Southerly tells this story of watching and waiting, most likely from this exact spot.  

It seemed a natural idea to set the text of this song along the length of the promenade wall, and to flank it by two related sculptures: at one end the sail of a traditional fishing coble, at the other a giant eye set on high ground.  To look through the eye out past the lighthouse is to share something with South Shields women across the centuries.



The 18 ton cast concrete ‘Tyne Eye’ sculpture also evokes that sense of longing and includes a line from the song. It also serves a fabulous seat and viewing point.



The cast concrete and aluminium ‘Cobble sail’ sculpture serves as a gateway feature drawing people to the new promenade. Port holes and bespoke seating frame these views and play on scale. More subtle references to the coastal location are reflected in the shapes of the bespoke seats inspired by diatoms and dunes. 



We chose concrete as a themed material.  The song was waterblasted into the concrete promenade wall and we concrete-cast both the eye and the mast for the coble sail.  The sail itself was fabricated from aluminium by Chris Brammall Ltd.



Influenced by the sites unique location where the River Tyne meets the North Sea and the massive ships which sail in and out each day, in collaboration with artist Stephen Broadbent, the concept for the public realm developed around ‘seeing and looking’ - inspired by the idea of centuries of people having stood at the location, watching and waiting for boats to return to the river.
— Oobe