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North Shields

North Shields

North Shields Fish Quay
North Shields is located in Tyne and Wear
North Shields
 North Shields shown within Tyne and Wear
Population 31,411 (2011)
OS grid reference
Metropolitan borough North Tyneside
Metropolitan county Tyne and Wear
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NE29, NE30
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament North Tyneside
List of places
Tyne and Wear

North Shields is a town on the north bank of the River Tyne, in the metropolitan borough of North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear in North East England. Historically part of Northumberland, it is located eight miles (13 km) east of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Its name derives from Middle English schele meaning 'temporary sheds or huts (used by fishermen)',[1] and still today, the area is synonymous with fishing and other trades associated with seafaring.


  • History 1
    • Gallery 1.1
    • Industry 1.2
    • Transport 1.3
    • Culture 1.4
    • Regeneration 1.5
  • Geography 2
    • Meadow Well 2.1
  • Industry 3
  • Transport 4
    • Rail 4.1
    • Local ferry 4.2
    • International ferry 4.3
  • Religion 5
    • Christian churches 5.1
  • Sport 6
  • Notable people 7
    • Academia 7.1
    • Arts 7.2
    • Business 7.3
    • Fashion 7.4
    • Industry 7.5
    • Medicine 7.6
    • Military 7.7
    • Politics 7.8
    • Sport 7.9
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The history of North Shields starts in 1225 when the Prior of Tynemouth decided to create a fishing port to provide fish for the Priory which was situated on the headland at the mouth of the River Tyne. He also wished to victual ships anchored near the priory. A number of rudimentary houses or 'shiels' were erected at the mouth of the Pow Burn where the stream enters the Tyne, as well as wooden quays which were used to unload the fishing boats. The quays were also used to ship coal from local collieries owned by the Priory. Soon the population of the new township numbered 1000. The burgesses of Newcastle upon Tyne were determined to preserve the custom rights that they had enjoyed up till then, which covered the whole length of the river. They successfully petitioned the king in 1290 and managed to suspend trade from the new settlement. It was forbidden to victual ships or to load and unload cargoes at North Shields. The opposition of the Newcastle burgesses remained for a considerable time but despite this, North Shields continued to develop as a centre for fishing and exporting salt, produced at local saltpans. For a considerable period the Newcastle burgesses, known as the Hostmen, who controlled the export of coal from the Tyne, resisted the export of this commodity from North Shields.[2]

Lord Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood (1748–1810), a notable naval commander, and Edward Collingwood (1734–1806), a barrister who ordered the construction of Dissington Hall, had their seat at Chirton Hall in Chirton, now a western suburb of North Shields.[3][4] The town was originally restricted to a narrow strip of land alongside the river because of the steep bank which hemmed it in. Eventually the town became too overcrowded and in the 18th century buildings began to be erected on the plateau 60 feet (20 m) above the old, overcrowded, insanitary dwellings alongside the river. The prosperous businessmen and shipowners occupied the new town whereas the working people remained in the lower part of town. The low, riverside part of the town was linked to the newer, higher part of the town by a series of stairs. These stairs were initially populated by slum dwellings. Although these dwellings have long since been cleared away, the sets of stairs still exist. One of the first developments of the new town was Dockwray Square, built in 1763: a set of elegant town houses that became populated by wealthy families. However, due to the poor provision of water and drainage facilities, the wealthy families soon moved to the more central part of the new town, especially the new Northumberland Square.[5] Dockwray Square eventually deteriorated into slums. In the twentieth century Stan Laurel lived at a house in Dockwray Square for a few years, before he became famous. The square has since been re-developed and a statue of Laurel stands in the middle to commemorate his stay there.[2]

High and Low lights, new and old

Because of the difficulty of navigating ships into the mouth of the river past the dangerous Black Midden rocks, buildings were erected in the 16th century with permanent lights burning to be used as a guide by the mariners. High and Low lights are pictured on a 1655 map of the river Tyne: a pair of square castellated towers. Both lights were rebuilt in 1727, and these buildings still stand today (albeit the Old Low Light was remodelled in 1830 to serve as an almshouse).[6] In 1802, the Old Lights were replaced by new High and Low Lights, placed respectively at the top and bottom of the steep bank alongside the river. All these lights were owned and operated by Trinity House of Newcastle-upon-Tyne until they ceased operation. Today, the Old High Beacon, as well as the High and Low Lights, are private residences; they remain prominent landmarks. There are plans to convert the black-painted Old Low Light into a building for community use.[7] In 1806, a market place was opened on New Quay. In 1870, work began on constructing a fish quay to provide shelter for the docked fishing boats. This quay is still in use today.[2]

Clifford's Fort, located on the Fish Quay, was built in the 17th century as a coastal defence against the Dutch. The Fort also played a role during the Napoleonic Wars. The site of the fort was used to build new fish processing facilities and very little now remains of the original fort.[2] The area is currently undergoing restoration. Part of the foundations of the 18th century Master Gunner’s House were found below the concrete floor of a fish processing unit which was demolished in 1973. Elsewhere on the site, part of the stone edging of Cable Tanks belonging to the Submarine Mining Depot established at the fort in 1888 were uncovered.[8]

An interesting part of the history of North Shields is that of the "Wooden Dollies". In 1814, the female figurehead of a collier brig was placed at the entrance to Custom House Quay, on Liddell Street, and stood there until 1850, when it was vandalised. A second figurehead was placed on the same spot. The "Wooden Dolly", as the figurehead was known, was used by seafarers as a source of good-luck charms, by cutting pieces of wood from her to be taken with them on voyages. Eventually the figurehead was defaced beyond repair and after 14 years was replaced by Wooden Dolly No. 3. This remained until 1901 when it was replaced with Wooden Dolly No. 4 in the shape of a fishwife. A fifth Wooden Dolly, also a fishwife, was placed in Northumberland Square in 1958 and still remains there. In 1992, a sixth Wooden Dolly, was placed where the first four had been, at the entrance to Custom House Quay, and can still be seen there, next to the Prince of Wales public house.[9]


Locals who have played a large part in the town's history include Ralph Gardner, who opposed Newcastle when it tried to stop ships from docking in North Shields to deliver and receive coal. Gardner was imprisoned in 1653 for refusing to close his brewery which was used to provision ships. In 1655, he petitioned Parliament against what he claimed were the unfair demands of Newcastle. Gardner was regarded as a local hero and a High School was named in his honour near the former site of his cottage, the school being nicknamed 'Ralphies' by its students. The school closed in 1994 and houses have been built on the site, now called Gardner Park. A monument to him was put up near the school.[10]

The family of Admiral Lord Collingwood owned a large mansion and estate in North Shields. A public house called The Collingwood Arms, was built on part of that land. This was demolished in early 2005 to make way for a retirement home.[11] Collingwood was originally from Newcastle and fought with Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. Without Collingwood, Nelson could not have won that battle, and a large monument in his honour overlooks the River Tyne at Tynemouth. His statue [Grade 2 listed]was sculpted by John Graham Lough and stands atop a pedestal designed by John Dobson.[12] The four cannon on the walls flanking the steps at its base came from his flagship 'Royal Sovereign'.[13]


From an early period there were shipyards in North Shields. The smaller yards built the Northumbrian coble, a small inshore fishing vessel with a lug sail, well known in the North East. Larger yards built wooden sailing collier brigs, used to transport local coal to London. Eventually these small yards were replaced by larger yards such as the Tyne Dock and Engineering Company and the Smith's Dock Company. These yards produced iron vessels for various uses, including fishing and the coal trade. In later years the North Shields yards were used for ship repair work, Smith's dock being used for these purposes until the 1990s,[14] but eventually the last of the yards closed and there are none now in North Shields.[2]


In 1847, a rail link to Newcastle was established when a railway station was built in Oxford Street, off Tynemouth Road. Eventually, it was replaced by a new station further away from the river after new rail lines were developed.[15]


[16] YMCA North Tyneside was founded in 1870 and was originally known as The Borough of Tynemouth YMCA. After an inaugural meeting on 7 June 1879 there followed weekly meetings in the Sons of Temperance Hall, Norfolk Street, North Shields.

The YMCA grew in popularity. Within a year larger premises were needed. Meetings were to 53 Tyne Street, North Shileds and in 1879 to Camden Street, North Shields. In 1920 the YMCA moved to a building in Bedford Street (which is still owned by the YMCA and now occupied by the Citizens Advice Bureau) where it remained until 1938 when it moved to the present building and the current registered office at Church Way, North Shields.


Royal Quays Retail Park, an outlet shopping centre located at North Shields

Beginning during the 1990s, an extensive regeneration programme saw the revitalisation of the redundant Albert Edward docks. The Wet 'n' Wild indoor water park, an outlet shopping centre, a bowling alley, a soccer dome and a marina form the centrepiece to the Royal Quays development to the west of the town. Similarly, major regeneration of the Fish Quay to the south-east of the town centre has included the construction of luxury apartments and the conversion of existing buildings into restaurants and bars. Mark di Suvero's Tyne Anew (1999), his only large-scale public artwork in the UK, can be seen at Albert Edward Dock.[17]

The site of the former Smith's Docks was acquired by the developer Places For People in 2007. In January 2015 they sought planning permission for the construction of homes on the site.[18]


The town is bounded to the north by Whitley Bay and to the south by the River Tyne. The village of Tynemouth is to its east and the A19 road marks the boundary between North Shields and Wallsend to the west of the town. It is part of the North Tyneside conurbation.

Over the years, North Shields has grown from a small fishing village to incorporate the nearby villages of Chirton, Preston and Billy Mill.

Meadow Well

A large council estate, Meadow Well (alternatively spelt Meadowell or Meadowwell on local signs) to the west of the town, was constructed in the 1930s to house residents displaced by the clearance of the Dockwray Square slum. These flats were replaced with better quality homes in the 1960s and 70s.[19] Meadow Well was formerly known as the Ridges Estate – a name occasionally used today – since it was built on the site of the Ridges farm. Its name derives from a well situated in a meadow upon which the estate was built. On Monday, 9 September 1991, Meadow Well was featured heavily in the news across the UK as riots broke out,[19] which continued for three days. Many properties were damaged, cars burned out and the local community centre burned down. As a result of the riots, the local housing was gradually improved by the council over the next three years through demolition and rebuilding, as well as renovation.[19]

The film 'Dream On' (1991) is set on the estate.[20]


Collieries in the town were located at three of the outlying villages now incorporated within the town, namely Preston colliery, at the location of the present cemetery gates, at Percy Main and New York. Following the demise of coal-mining and ship-building in the area, several business parks, industrial estates and trading estates were established providing alternative employment. The biggest of these are The Silverlink and Cobalt Park, the UK's largest office park. Atmel had a plant located at Silverlink, previously occupied by Siemens but the plant is now demolished apart from the office building, now home to Cobalt Business Exchange. Cobalt is home to an Orange call centre. The town's association with the early days of the railways is recognised at the Stephenson Railway Museum on Middle Engine Lane near The Silverlink.[21]


North Shields Metro Station
Royal Quays Marina


The Tyne and Wear Metro links North Shields to Newcastle city centre, and to other destinations in Tyne and Wear including Whitley Bay, Newcastle Airport and Sunderland.

Local ferry

A half-hourly ferry service connects North Shields to the town of South Shields on the opposite bank of the Tyne.[22]

From June to October river trips by ferry operate.

International ferry

An international ferry terminal, the only one in the region, is based at Royal Quays and provides connections to the Netherlands.

The ferry service to Gothenburg, Sweden (run by the Danish company DFDS Seaways), ceased operation at the end of October 2006.[23] DFDS Seaways' sister company, DFDS Tor Line, continues to run scheduled freight ships between Gothenburg and several English ports, including Newcastle, but these have limited capacity for passengers and do not carry private vehicles.


North Shields has a number of religious buildings.

Christian churches

  • Christ Church, Preston Road - Now the parish church of North Shields but originally consecrated 'Tynemouth Parish Church' on Sunday 5th. July 1668 and was enlarged in 1792.source The History of Christ Church North Shields by Michael Scott 1996.
  • St Augustin’s Church of England, Jackson Street
  • St Peter’s Church of England, Central Avenue, Balkwell
  • Holy Saviour’s Church of England, Crossway, Tynemouth
  • St John’s Church of England, St John’s Terrace, Percy Main
  • St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Church, Albion Road West
  • St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Wallsend Road, Chirton
  • St Columba’s United Reformed Church, 30 Northumberland Square
  • North Shields Methodist Church, Hawkey’s Lane
  • North Shields Baptist Church, Howard Street
  • North Shields Salvation Army Corps, Howard Street
  • North Shields Fishermen’s Mission, 42-47 Fish Quay
  • The Cedarwood Trust, Avon Avenue
  • North Shields YMCA, Church Way


The town is home to the non-League football club, North Shields F.C.. Founded in 1896, they are currently in the Northern Football League and play their home games at Daren Persson Stadium (aka Ralph Gardner Park) NE29 6UA. They have visited Wembley Stadium twice and have come from behind to win 2-1 on both occasions - against Sutton United on 12 April 1969 at the old Wembley to win the FA Amateur Cup[24] and against Glossop North End at the new stadium on 9 May 2015 to win the FA Vase, the Amateur Cup's successor.[25]

Notable people





Lucy Ratcliffe - model






See also


  1. ^ Mills, A.D. (1991). Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names, The. Oxford: Parragon. Shields, 'temporary sheds or huts (used by fishermen)', ME schele: Shields, North Tyne & Wear. Chelis 1268. Shields, South Tyne & Wear. Scheles 1235 
  2. ^ a b c d e Simpson, Richard (1988). North Shields and Tynemouth. Phillimore.  
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1848). "A Topographical Dictionary of England". pp. 599–603. 
  4. ^ "The Builder – Mr Collingwood". Dissington Hall. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "North Shields, Dockwray Square -". 
  6. ^ "History of the Old Low Light". The Net. 
  7. ^ "The Net Project". The Net. 
  8. ^ "Fort work uncovers ancient buildings". 
  9. ^ Wright, Ron (2002). Beyond The Piers. The People’s History Ltd.  
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Lost Pubs In North Shields, Northumberland". 
  12. ^ "SINE Project, Structure Details for Collingwood Monument". 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Sonia Sharma (10 December 2011). "Historic North Shields shipyard set for regeneration". journallive. 
  15. ^ "Disused Stations: Tynemouth Station (N & B)". 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Kate Proctor (5 January 2015). "New homes plan for Smith's Dock in North Tyneside to go before planners". nechronicle. 
  19. ^ a b c Kate Proctor (11 June 2014). "Stories that shocked Tyneside: The Meadow Well riots in North Shields". nechronicle. 
  20. ^ "BBC - Tyne - Entertainment - Tinseltoon". 
  21. ^ "About us". 
  22. ^ "Ferry". Nexus. 
  23. ^ "DFDS scraps Newcastle-Gothenburg line", The Local, 7 September 2006: "Danish shipping company DFDS Seaways is to scrap the only passenger ferry route between Sweden and Britain, with the axing of the Gothenburg-Newcastle route at the end of October."
  24. ^ " - The official website of Sutton United Football Club". 
  25. ^ The Football Association. "Glossop North End 1-2 North Shields AET, The FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium - The FA Vase - The FA". 
  26. ^ "Biography - James Egan Moulton - Australian Dictionary of Biography". 
  27. ^ "Balmer, George (1805-1846), landscape painter". 
  28. ^ TalkTalk web studio. "- TV Portal". 
  29. ^ "John Chambers". 
  30. ^ "Biography". 
  31. ^ "BBC - Your Paintings - Ken Currie". 
  32. ^ "Dinnerladies actor Andrew Dunn - exclusive interview". North East Life. 
  33. ^ "Obituary: Tom Hadaway". the Guardian. 
  34. ^ "Dennis Kirkland". The Independent (London). 24 February 2006. 
  35. ^ journallive Administrator (28 June 2011). "New book reveals comedian’s 'forgotten' North Shields childhood". journallive. 
  36. ^ Barbara Hodgson (24 June 2013). "North Shields performer Ryan Molloy makes it big in musical The Jersey Boys - The Journal". journallive. 
  37. ^ "Victor Noble Rainbird Memorial Fund I Grave Marker I North Shiekds". Victor Noble Rainbird Memorial Fund I Grave Marker I North Shiekds. 
  38. ^ David Whetstone (8 February 2015). "New role brings Tyneside-born actor Shaun Prendergast close to grandad he never met". nechronicle. 
  39. ^ "Film director Tony Scott jumps to death from bridge". Channel 4 News. 
  40. ^ Gordon Barr (2 July 2010). "Interview: Gordon Barr speaks to Neil Tennant". nechronicle. 
  41. ^ "Hilton Valentine Biography". 
  42. ^ "Ian Watson Interview (1981)". 
  43. ^ "Robert Westall's official website". 
  44. ^ Coreena Ford (1 September 2012). "Ian Whyte tells of movie making with Ridley Scott". nechronicle. 
  45. ^ "Behind The Voice Actors - Alan Young". Behind The Voice Actors. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ journallive Administrator (17 July 2009). "Around the region: North Shields". journallive. 
  48. ^ "Munks Roll Details for Edward Headlam Greenhow". 
  49. ^ Tony Henderson (10 July 2014). "Stories behind First World War memorial names revealed". journallive. 
  50. ^ "John Nichol". Penguin Books UK. 
  51. ^ Alan Sykes. "Tyneside honours the teenage cook who helped to break the Nazis' Enigma code". the Guardian. 
  52. ^ Dowden, Richard (13 June 1993). "Africa's oldest despot faces end of his strange journey: Richard Dowden in Lilongwe on the two lives of Hastings Banda, doctor and dictator". The Independent (London). 
  53. ^ "Claire Ward - Labour Party Watford". Activ Brentwood. 
  54. ^ "Injury-plagued Bridges hangs up his boots but will remain in Australia after retirement". Daily Mail (London). 29 April 2011. 

External links

  • North Shields Football Club
  • North Shields Rugby Football Club
  • North Shields Hockey Club
  • North Shields Fish Quay – Heritage & Regeneration
  • Tide times at North Shields from the BBC and Easytide.
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