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The Marine, South Shields

On Thursday 14 June 2012, the following story by Mike Howell entitled ‘High spirits at South Shields pub’ was published in the Shields Gazette. ’THE Marine is no ordinary pub. Nestling at the distal end of Ocean Road, the last purpose-built watering hole before the North Sea, it has an intriguing history which is only enhanced by a brace of good ghost stories.

We’ll get to the spooky tales presently, but first a word about the pub itself.

Time was when The Marine was simply a traditional Victorian beer bar, but no longer.

It now serves the community on a number of different levels; live, screened football, cocktail nights, live bands ... and that’s just the conventional stuff, but we haven’t finished yet.

The Marine now hosts traditional pub-games nights, with old-time favourites such as pub skittles and shove ha’penny, and an intriguing gastronomic challenge involving eating a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with a hearty home-made stew.  

Behind this amazing transformation is a mother-and-son team, Sarah Wayt and Sam West.

Sarah happens to be a research scientist and medical anthropologist, which must be a first when it comes to running a local hostelry.

They have to take the credit for turning an ordinary pub into a hive of social activity, but even they can’t claim the kudos for the ghosts that allegedly haunt The Marine.

So, what do we know about the ghosts at The Marine pub? To be honest, the answer has to be, “Not much”. Most of the apparitions seem to have had short-term contracts, being seen only once.

That doesn’t make them any the less scary, but from an investigator’s point of view it can be frustrating as it becomes impossible to accumulate information on any given case.

One ghost has appeared several times; a spectral chap who’s been seen in the bar – on one occasion strolling as bold as brass past a clutch of patrons before suddenly disappearing.

Another, more nebulous phantom has been seen standing at the bottom of the cellar steps on at least two occasions.

Sarah and Sam certainly don’t seem to be bothered by The Marine’s phantasms; in fact, many would argue that they enrich the bar’s history.

I spoke to one patron during my research, Frank Wood, whose father, Kenneth, had told him about a barmaid at The Marine who died suddenly of a heart attack back in the 1960s.

Two customers were said to have seen her in the pub a week later, “as large as life”, although I’m not sure that’s a description I would have chosen. Mistaken identity? Possibly, but who can say?

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