Coble Dene, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE29 6DW. Tel: 0191 296 3743
I'm always on the lookout for bargains, so having learned about Royal Quays Shopping Centre from some advertising on my local radio station I thought I'd give it a try.
Royal Quays is a large open air outlet shopping centre home to over 50 shops. They say each shop offers up to 60% off RRP, but more about this later...
Located in North Shields, directly adjacent to the International Ferry Terminal, it has good bus links from Newcastle and a massive car park if you want to drive there. It's pretty easy to find, not far from the A1. I took the car and although the car park is big it's still normally pretty full.
It is open Monday - Wednesday and Friday 9.30 - 5.30, Thursday 9.30 - 8.00, Saturday 9.00 - 6.00 and Sunday 10.30 - 5.00. I believe in the run up to Christmas the centre will be open for longer.
Some of the shops Royal Quays houses include The Body Shop, Carphone Warehouse, Gap, Le Creuset, Marks and Spencer and Next. LIke I previously mentioned, they advertise themselves as being up to 60% off RRP. In reality I normally find that while most of the shops are cheaper than high street stores, it's very rare to find anything that has been reduced by this amount.
The first time I went I was very disappointed, but my Mam wanted to try it so I went back just after Christmas where I found it so much better. My favourite shop is the Next Clearance Outlet. They were having a massive sale and I managed to get quite a lot of items priced from just £1.
If you visit their website they also have a section which shows the special offers that particular shops have running at that time. This would come in very handy for planning a visit.
Royal Quays Outlet Centre
Coble Dene, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE29 6DW.
Tel: 0191 296 3743
Located next to the North Shields Ferry terminal (about a mile from the North side of the Tyne Tunnel). A regular bus service runs to the Royal Quays from most local towns and if you decide to take the car, there is a massive, free car park located right beside it for your convenience.
If you haven't been before, then I would recommend that you have a look online first to get an idea of the shops that are there. For me, the term "outlet centre" makes me think there will be a wide range of shops and this simply isn't the case at Royal Quays. In fact, I find it to be a bit disappointing and generally speaking, not worth the drive. It would take me the same length of time to get into Newcastle (and not much longer for the Metro Centre) and the choice is much better.
Examples of what you will find are Gap, Trespass, Body Shop, Next Clearance, Claire's, Puma, Reebok and Pilot. There seems to be more sports stores and places to eat or have coffee than anything else.
On a positive note, in the middle, there is a small enclosure with some gorgeous long haired rabbits so if you take the kids, be sure to take them to meet the bunnies. Aside from that, I find the place a bit of a let down.
Located next to the North Shields Ferry terminal and about 1 mile away from the North side of the Tyne Tunnel. There are regular buses to the shopping outlet and by car the outlet is very clearly signposted. Car parking is free and there are ample spaces. There is even an overflow car park.
There are a number of food outlets, Burger King , M & S, Greggs, Thorntons and Costa Coffee. For the size of the shopping area the ratio of food outlets to shops is quite high.
There isn't a great deal of choice of shops, the best deals can be found on outdoor clothing and footwear on names such as Tog 24, Trespass etc. There are a number of luggage shops too so a decent place to come if you are luggage shopping.
Next outlet shop
M& S outlet
You could probably spend two hours here maximum, its not the best shopping areas in the Newcastle area and I would recommend the Gateshead MetroCentre or Newcastle City Centre if you are coming to the area for shopping.
The Royal Quays outlet centre having recently recieved a refurb seems to be also experiencing a renewed interest from the public, however I feel this shall be short lived as still the centre offers very little I can find of interest!
The decor has of course improved greatly, however there remains a certain dullness around the place. I can only really place this as lack of atmosphere, it is an impersonal place, closer to the American mega malls than anything else, and this is highly problematic for me and my friends, we would much prefer a wander around the nearby North Shields than the Royal Quays.
The stores arew varied in what they sell, however all remain main stream, Next, Marks and Spencers. These stores are also however available in Newcastle a mere 30 minute bus journey away, and along with many others, the offers in the outlet centre aren't that immense, and so I often find myself choosing Newcastle instead of the Royal Quays anyway.
It is a good attempt at an outlet centre, however as I have said the place could do with some personality, some individual touches, a move away from the steel identicle stores, away from the obvious and widely available choice of stores, and a move towards something a little different!
Royal Quays Outlet Centre seems to get a little better every time I visit with new shops opening all the time, the whole centre was refurbished last summer and the surrounding area has been landscaped to create a comfortable, pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. Some of the outlet shops you find here are Marks and Spencer, Ben Sherman, Lee, Wrangler, Puma, Cotton Traders, CAT, Body Shop, Ponden Mill, Pilot, Claire’s Accessories and Clarks Shoes, to name but a few. There is a music shop, a bookshop, toyshop, card shop, jewellery shop, designer sunglasses shop and specialist outdoor adventure shops and a Tourist Information Centre. If you’re feeling a little peckish you can get refreshments from Delefrance, Fresh, Burger King or the small coffee shop at the back of Thornton’s. There is also a branch of Brewster’s pub called the Royal Quays for those who what something a little stronger and as with most Brewster establishments there is a children’s play area and special children’s meal deals. The Centre has three car parks and a overspill car park, ample public toilets, baby changing facilities and people with disabilities are well catered for with numerous disabled parking bays, shops with wide aisles and easy access wide doors, flat well paved paths around the centre, disabled toilets, all shops have fitting rooms and some of the shops have extra large fitting rooms for the disabled. Wheelchairs are available to hire free of charge but it is advisable to phone the centre before you visit to a book a wheelchair. There is a large green in the centre of the shopping area with benches, small shrubs, flowerbeds, public telephones and an open-air cafe, which is catered for by Delefrance. The Centre clock is situated on the edge of the large green, the clock is called the Storm Clock and it causes quite a stir when it strikes every our; the clock comprises a tall pole with a large spher
e on top and a second tall pole about foot feet away with an even larger sphere on top, the smaller sphere is the clock and there is a boy standing on top of the clock holding onto a post, on the hour half of the larger sphere turns in on itself to reveal a face, the eyes role on the face and the mouth blows smoke towards the smaller clock sphere and at the same time there is the sound of wind blowing and thunder, this happens twice and then the third time the gust from the face in the large sphere is stronger and louder and the boy holding onto the top of the clock is blown parallel, it is quite a sight and most people stop to watch the storm. We usually visit Royal Quays on Sunday Mornings, arriving for the centre opening at 11.00am, we can shop in comfort and have no problem finding a parking space, because of the way the centre is set out you are able to walk around all the shops without having to double back on yourself. The centre specialises in offering famous brands at low prices and you find new bargains every time you visit, the prices are kept low by offering previous season’s merchandise, surplus stock, special purchases and some quality seconds. Royal Quays is a popular destination for coach parties from Scotland and the coaches normally start arriving around noon, the centre soon becomes very crowded around this time, the coaches from the ferry terminal usually start arriving around 1.00pm. We are normally finished shopping by around 1.30pm and head home, when we leave the car parks always seem to be very full and at times the overspill car parks are in use. The Royal Quays Outlet Centre is only about five minutes drive from the Tyne International Ferry Terminal and is very popular with visitors from Scandinavia. Other Information Opening times for Royal Quays are Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday 11.00am to 5.00pm and late night shopping on Thursday until 8.00pm. Royal Quays i
s located in Coble Drive, next to the International Ferry Terminal, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, about seven mile from Newcastle. Telephone number for the centre is 0191 296 3743 web site address is www.royalquaysoutletcentre.co.uk Getting there by road: From the South From the A1(M) South follow the A1 North past Washington services and fork right onto the A194(M). Follow the signs for Tyne Tunnel, go through the tunnel and follow the signs for Royal Quays and the International Ferry Terminal. From the North Join the A19 southbound and follow the signs for Royal Quays and International Ferry Terminal. From the West Join the A1058 from Newcastle centre signposted Tynemouth then follow the signs for Tyne Tunnel, just before the tunnel follow the signs for Royal Quays and International Ferry Terminal. By Train Take the train to Newcastle Central Station, from Central Station take the North Shields Metro and get of at Percy Main Station, follow the signs for Royal Quays – it is about a seven-minute walk. By Bus Take the 327 bus from outside Newcastle Central Station to Royal Quays. Royal Quays is opposite Wet and Wild a large indoor aqua park. Ferries leave the International Ferry Terminal daily to many destinations and it is often possible to book a three or four day mini cruise for as little as £49 for accommodation in a two berth outside cabin with private facilities and breakfast included. DFDS sail to Amsterdam in Holland, Gothenburg in Sweden, Kristiansand in Norway, Esbjerg in Denmark and Hamburg in Germany. Fjordline sail to Bergen in Norway stopping at Haugesund and Stavanger on route. If you are planning a mini cruise you could look around Royal Quays before sailing(or on your return) and get real value for money.
Whilst I was staying on the outskirts of Newcastle I visited the Royal Quays Shopping Outlet several times and always managed to get a bargain or two. The outlet is in a nice area, easy to get to, well signposted, and good car parks. There is a very friendly tourist information office. I was however quite disapointed with the amount of shops unoccupied at that time (February 2002)and was quite glad I hadn't travelled too far. There are a couple of sets of toilets and three places to eat. The whole place was quite quiet during the week and there were no problems queuing for anything. The two larger shops there were Marks & Spencer and Nike. The Black & Decker shop had stuff at well below normal prices and if your 'join their club' you can get an extra 10% saving. The Remington shop sounds as though it should be for men, but don't be put off - it has a good range of pans & cutlery, electrical stuff and of course the odd razor. The Toy World outlet managed to sell me a couple of items, as did the Book Depot and I called into Thorntons a couple of times. A shop called Mexx have clothes for adults, teenagers and children, at very reasonable prices and Jane Shilton have an outlet with shoes and bags. I got bargains in the XS Music shop and in the Body Shop. I think that there goods may have been even cheaper as after Xmas when I went. Car Phone Warehouse have an outlet and the phones are slightly cheaper than on the high street BUT they were not new. They were selling the returned stock. Le Creuset have a shop selling their wonderful pans and Claires Accessories and Colony (candles) both have small shops. There were a few other clothes shops and I bought a coat in the Windsmore shop with a saving oif about 60%! All in all well worth a visit if you don't have to travel too far.
If like me you love shopping and getting a bargain then Royal Quays Outlet Centre is the place to visit. The centre first opened about seven year ago but the shops were totally refurbished last summer and the surrounding area has been landscaped to create a comfortable, relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. The centre has three car parks, the Galleon car park, Yacht car park and Viking Boat car park giving a total of seventy-five free parking bays and ample excess parking spaces on an overspill near by. There is also a coach park with a coach drop off and collection point next to one of the pedestrian entrances to the centre. I usually park in the Galleon car park and after walking through the pedestrian entrance I turn right, the first shop you come across is the Black and Decker shop which caters for DIY enthusiasts of all levels and also sells hardware, garden tools and furniture; all the products are sold at discounted high street prices. Next to the Black and Decker shop is Surf, Skate and Snow this shop sells all the equipment, accessories and clothing you could possibly need for surfing, skating and all outdoor pursuits in the snow, again at discounted prices. After Surf, Skate and Snow you will find the Puma Outlet shop offering the latest clothing in design technology fusing the creative influences from the world of sport, lifestyle and fashion, plus a selection of golf clubs and accessories; all at prices at least fifteen per cent less than on the high street and some prices up to fifty per cent off. I have been lucky enough to get some real bargains here, ladies T-shirts for under £4, men’s trainers for £18, ladies track suits under £20 and men’s polo shirts for £6 all Puma brand and not seconds. Now we come to probably one of my favourite shops Marks and Spencer outlet, this shop is larger than the previous three put together and again most of the products sold are not seconds, all items that are secon
ds are clearly marked as such. Marks and Spencer outlet caters for men, women, children, the Autograph range of clothing, soft furnishings and a wide range of St. Michael beauty products. Before Christmas I bought a ladies dressing gown for £8 with a High Street price on of £25, two ladies jumpers for £5 each the High Street price was £30 per jumper and a pair of men’s trousers for £5 selling in the High Street for £28. My husband found a suit jacket for £25 and matching trousers for £5. The only fault I can find with Marks and Spencer outlet is they often have a lot of clothes in only one or two sizes but I have never come away disappointed. Next to Marks and Spencer you find public toilets with baby changing facilities and Delifrance where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee, soft drink and a snack all reasonably priced. Trespass occupies the shop next to Delifrance but this shop is still being fitted out and is due to open very soon. One of my husband’s favourite shops at Royal Quays is next, the Lee, Wrangler, Outlet, here you can pick up Wrangler jackets for under £20 and shirts for as little as £8, men’s Wrangler boxer shorts for £3 and three pair packs of men’s Wrangler socks for £5; they sell Lee jeans with prices starting at £10, Lee T-shirts from £3 and jumpers from £10. Prices in this shop are up to forty per cent less than on the High Street and the shop caters for men, women and children. The Designer Room is one of the larger shops in the centre and here you find all the leading designer names such as Versace, Elle, Lacoste, Diesel, Klass and Valentino all at discounted prices, I bought a Valentino boxed shirt here for £14 and was very tempted by a Versace ladies dress and matching jacket for a total price of under £230. There is also a huge range of top brand perfumes, cosmetics and body products available in this shop. Then there’s Tog 24 offering a wide range of outdoor clothing
and accessories for men and women and their new range of warm outdoor clothing for children. Next to Tog 24 is the Warner’s shop, here you can pick up all the lingerie you need including a wide selection of Calvin Klein for both men and women. I recently bought Calvin Klein men’s boxer shorts for £5 per pair, CK ladies knickers for £2.99 and CK bras for £4.99. CK T-shirts, belts, and nightwear are also on sale here at discounted prices. Warner’s lingerie is available in a wide range of sizes and styles to suit all shapes and ages. Next is the Reebok shop selling a wide range of Reebok products and then there is Suits You where you find an extensive range of big name menswear from formal suits to casual shirts and pure silk ties, labels here include Pierre Cardin, Ben Sherman, Calvin Klein and Valentino. Also within the shop there is a branch of Young’s Hire range, so whatever the occasion you should find a suitable outfit to buy or hire. The Book Depot is always worth a look and you find a selection of quality products from the latest best sellers, art books, cook books, art and craft materials and a large range of children’s books and games. Next to the Book Depot is the Birthdays shop with all the products you can find in any Birthdays on the High Street but at discounted prices. Take a walk into the Remington shop; they sell a broad range of personal and household electrical products including some major brands and a large selection of kitchen utensils. Toyworld is impossible to walk past if you have youngsters with you and the shop has a large selection of old favourites like Winnie the Pooh soft toys, Action Man, Barbie and many of the latest – I must have – crazes. After Toyworld you will find more public toilets with baby changing facilities and next to these is the smallest shop in the centre – Sunglass Time selling a wide selection of designer sunglasses at discount price
s. Then there is Pavers Shoes, another large shop with a huge selection of shoes, boots and slippers for men, women and children, names here include Timberland, Ecco, CAT, Van Dal and Hush Puppies and all prices are again discounted. Pilot is the next shop, again one of the larger shops with the same range of clothing you would find in Pilot on the High Street but all garments are ten to forty per cent less than the High Street prices and then you have Cotton Traders with a selection of high quality rugby jerseys and leisure wear for the whole family. By now I am usually ready for a snack and a coffee and here we find more public toilets, Burger King and the Fresh snack bar. There is a children’s play area next to Fresh and Burger King, the play area has a fence around and the ground is covered with soft, sponge like tarmac. Next to the children’s play area there is a Tourist Information Office, which provides a full public information service. The pedestrian entrance from the Viking Boat car park and coach drop off point is next to the Tourist Information Centre. From here we start heading back in the direction we came and the first shop is the Body Shop outlet, here 250ml bottles of bubble bath sell for £1.75, all individual make-up items are priced at £1 and Japanese Hot Springs boxed sets are only £6.50 all prices seem to be about thirty to forty per cent less than other Body Shops and the outlet shop stocks a large range of products. The next shop is XS Music and Video, this is one shop I’m really disappointed in, I bought a CD here just before Christmas and then found the same CD selling for £2 less in my local Morrisons; on reflection I don’t think any of the CD’s or videos were actually at discount prices in the shop and I intend to walk past this shop on future visits. Jane Shilton is the next shop and they stock a wide selection of classic and modern handbags, luggage, vanity cases, briefcas
es and shoes. Then there’s the Mountain Warehouse with discounted clothing, boots and accessories for those interested in outdoor pursuits. Ponden Mill is a large shop and here you can buy soft furnishings and linen from a selection of classic and contemporary designs to suit all tastes as well as porcelain ornaments, glass wear and pottery. Mexx is the next shop selling a selection of their own label fashion clothing for men and women and then you come to the Nike Factory Store, this is the largest of the shops in the centre and is well stocked with leisure wear, sports apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment to enhance the performance of athletes at all levels (or those of us who just want to look the part) again all prices are discounted. Next to the Nike Factory Store is one for the chocoholics Thorntons, here you can buy their classic range of continental and other chocolate delights, not to mention their selection of toffees, and most but not all of their range is on sale at discount prices; it is very difficult to walk past this shop, if the aroma of chocolate and toffee does not lead you inside the shop the smell of freshly ground coffee drifting through from the coffee bar at the rear of the shop certainly will. It would be a sin not to wander in here, have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and a snack, then leave with a beautiful box of chocolates, toffee or ice cream. The next three shops are in the process of being refitted and are due to open before Easter; the last shop is Antler, which sells, handbags, briefcases, luggage, jewellery boxes and a selection of travel accessories. You have now walked in a triangle and are back to the pedestrian entrance/exit to the Galleon car park. Inside the triangle there is a large green with small shrubs, flower beds, benches and a public telephone and yet more shops. Here you find Claire’s Accessories where you can add that little extra touch to complete your outfit with a
sparkly necklace, glittering hair clip, nail polish or make-up and you will find everything from a cowboy hat to fairy wings for fancy dress parties. The Carphone Warehouse are due to open a branch here within the next couple of months and the next shop is Le Creuset selling their range of designer cookware. Opposite these few shops is the Lightning Clock which comprises a tall pole with a large sphere on top and a second tall pole about four foot away with an even larger sphere on top, the sphere on the second pole is the clock, on the hour the smaller sphere appears to blow a storm and lightening strike to the larger clock sphere, it’s quite an impressive site. At the back of these shops are a few more shops the first being Bon Bleu where you can buy the latest funky designs in urban streetwear through to smart casual clothing for children from birth to fourteen year old. The next shop is Colony Candles with a hugs selection of candles, gifts and home accessories and then there’s August Silk were each garment is uniquely made in an individual way to preserve the natural and authentic character of the silk, so if you are looking for something completely different this is the shop for you. August Silk is the last shop in the centre and you will now be back to the Galleon Car Park entrance/exit again. Across from the Yacht car park there is a pub called the Royal Quays owned by the Brewsters Group and you can get a very reasonably priced bar meal here although it does get rather crowded, especially if there is a ferry in port from Norway, Sweden or Denmark. The Royal Quays Outlet Centre is only about five minutes drive from the Tyne International Ferry Terminal and is very popular with visitors from Scandinavia. We usually visit Royal Quays on Sunday Mornings, arriving for the centre opening at 11.00am, we can shop in comfort and have no problem finding a parking space, because of the way the centre is set out you are able
to walk around all the shops without having to double back on yourself. The centre specialises in offering famous brands at low prices and you find new bargains every time you visit, the prices are kept low by offering previous season’s merchandise, surplus stock, special purchases and some quality seconds. Royal Quays is a popular destination for coach parties from Scotland and the coaches normally start arriving around noon, the centre soon becomes very crowded around this time, the coaches from the ferry terminal usually start arriving around 1.00pm. We are normally finished shopping by around 1.30pm and head home, when we leave the car parks always seem to be very full and at times the overspill car parks are in use. Other Information There are ample disabled parking bays and the centre is user friendly for those with disabilities, the shops are all on one level with wide aisles, the paths around the centre are flat, wide and smooth; wheelchairs are available to borrow free but it is advisable to phone the centre before you visit to book a wheelchair. All shops have fitting rooms and some of the shops have extra large fitting rooms for the disabled. Opening times for Royal Quays are Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday 11.00am to 5.00pm and late night shopping on Thursday until 8.00pm. Royal Quays is located in Coble Drive, next to the International Ferry Terminal, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, about seven mile from Newcastle. Telephone number for the centre is 0191 296 3743 web site address is www.royalquaysoutletcentre.co.uk Getting there by road: From the South From the A1(M) South follow the A1 North past Washington services and fork right onto the A194(M). Follow the signs for Tyne Tunnel, go through the tunnel and follow the signs for Royal Quays and the International Ferry Terminal. From the North Join the A19 southbound and follow the signs for Royal Quays and
International Ferry Terminal. From the West Join the A1058 from Newcastle centre signposted Tynemouth then follow the signs for Tyne Tunnel, just before the tunnel follow the signs for Royal Quays and International Ferry Terminal. By Train Take the train to Newcastle Central Station, from Central Station take the North Shields Metro and get of at Percy Main Station, follow the signs for Royal Quays – it is about a seven-minute walk. By Bus Take the 327 bus from outside Newcastle Central Station to Royal Quays. Royal Quays is opposite Wet and Wild a large indoor aqua park. Ferries leave the International Ferry Terminal daily to many destinations and it is often possible to book a three or four day mini cruise for as little as £49 for accommodation in a two berth outside cabin with private facilities and breakfast included. DFDS sail to Amsterdam in Holland, Gothenburg in Sweden, Kristiansand in Norway, Esbjerg in Denmark and Hamburg in Germany. Fjordline sail to Bergen in Norway stopping at Haugesund and Stavanger on route. If you are planning a mini cruise you could look around Royal Quays before embarkation and get real value for money.
Having been used to the American way of outlet shopping, where top quality designer brands are sold at rock bottom prices, I was very excited when Royal Quays opened a few years ago. However, I was to be disappointed. While I did not expect the same kinds of prices that you can find in the USA, I did excpect a reasonable range of stores. This is sadly not the case. As for pure manufacturers stores, selling their own goods at discounted prices, there are very few worth mentioning - Lee has a reasonable jeans store and there are one or two others. The remainder of the stores are a mix of cheap clearance stores, selling poor quality items at more than reasonable prices and the kinds of stores you will find on every high street, such as book a book clearance store. It is worth a visit if you are bored and want to fill in an afternoon, you may pick up one or two bargains, but I would certainly not recommend travelling any distance to go to Royal Quays