Marsden Grotto is well known for being the only restaurant and bar in a cave in the whole of Europe.
The History of Mardsen Grotto
Situated in the cliffs of Marsden’s coast in South Shields in Tyne & Wear, this curious place dates back to the 18th century and is rife with tales of smugglers and ghosts. Actually located in a cliff-face itself, overlooking the sea, The Grotto was built (or rather blasted) by a character known as Jack the Blaster, who used explosive to carve a home for himself out of the raw stone. Thanks to Jack’s legendary hospitality, what was originally a private residence soon transformed into an inn which became a favourite with the local smugglers.
Since its early days, the original cave has been greatly excavated and now, with recent refurbishments, it prides itself on retaining a sense of its colourful legacy while bringing diners the kind of culinary delights which only the sea’s freshest catches can inspire.
Incredibly, the caves have been excavated to a two-storey height. Upstairs patrons can sip Champagne and savour the freshest Oysters at the Oyster Bar, maybe as a preamble to an intimate, candlelit dinner in the cavernous recess just beyond and up a step where lucky diners will find the Fine Dining area.
The Haunted History of Mardsen Grotto
With such a colourful history, you might expect a ghost or two to be hanging around, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. The most common story attached to the place relates to a smuggler who was reputedly murdered by his fellow criminals after selling information to HM Customs. It is said that he was hanged in a cave close to the present lift shaft and left to starve.
An old landlord of The Grotto would leave out a special tankard of ale each night after closing and, in the morning, it would be empty. Local DJ and TV presenter, Alan Robson drank from the tankard during one of his live Metro Radio shows, allegedly sparking off a series of supernatural phenomena that eventually forced the then landlord to quit. This included flying ashtrays smashing against the wall and flooding in the cellar after all the beer taps were inexplicably turned on. Unfortunately the original tankard was lost during refurbishment. A replacement is on display, but is no longer filled up each night for the ghosts.