Shields, South, a seaport, a market and union town, a. municipal and parliamentary borough, and a county borough under the Local Govemment Act of 1888, in Durham. The town stands on the river Tyne, at the end of the ancient military way called the Wreken Dyke, at the terminus of a branch of the N.E.R., on the south bank, opposite North Shields and Tynemouth, 1 mile W of Tyne Bar and 8 miles E by N of Newcastle; adjoins a hill called the Lawe, once insulated by the tide, and supposed to have been the site of the Roman station Ostia Vedrse; has yielded there and elsewhere Roman coins, inscribed stones, an altar, and remains of a hypocaust; took its present name from the " shiels " or huts of fishermen anciently on its site; went after the Norman Conquest to the Dean and Chapter of Durham; became famous about 1499 for salt-works, towards the close of the 17th century for glass-works, in the 18th century for chemical works, in 1789 for the invention of the lifeboat by Mr Greathead; was no more than a village with only four vessels so late as about 1750; rose thence rapidly to the condition of a prosperous town. It was made a parliamentary borough in 1832, and a municipal borough in 1850; consists in both capacities of the townships of South Shields and Westoe. The municipal borough is divided into four wards, and is governed by a mayor, 8 aldermen, and 24 councillors, who also act as. the urban district council. It has a separate commission of the peace. It sends one member to Parliament, is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, publishes six newspapers; occupies nearly all South Shields township and much of Westoe township; extends about 2 miles along the river; commands from the Lawe Walk a fine view of the coast and the sea; consists chiefly of a long street along the river's bank, and of spacious, well-built new streets on higher ground above; includes a large central market square, and has a head post office and several sub-offices, railway stations, four banks, several good hotels, a town-hall and market-house built in 1768, a branch custom-house, a savings bank, a public library and reading-room, assembly-hall erected in 1891, two theatres, a freemasons' hall, an Oddfellows' hall, baths and wash-houses built in 1854 at a cost of £3000, salt-water baths opened in 1885, ten churches, numerous dissenting chapels, two Roman Catholic chapels, an endowed school with £70 a year, and an industrial school connected with the Wellesley training ship at North Shields, nautical college, master mariners' cottages, an infirmary, an hospital, and a workhouse. New police buildings, with courts for police and county court business and various offices were opened in 1893. St Hilda's Church dates from very early times; was mainly rebuilt at great cost in 1811, retains its old tower, and was thoroughly restored in 1880.
A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs on the Wednesdays before and after 1 May and before and after 11 November. Iron shipbuilding, boatbuilding, rope-making, sail-making, block-making, iron-working, glass-making, oil, paint, and varnish making, and brewing are carried on. Commerce also is extensive, particularly in the export of coal and coke. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1895 was 110 (44,000 tons). There are coastguard and lifeboat stations. South Shields was formerly part of the port of Newcastle, and subsequently was attached to North Shields, but it has now for some years been a separate port with custom-house, mercantile marine office, &c. There are three docks, a tidal basin, quays and yards about 800 acres in extent, and over 20 miles of sidings belonging to the N.E.R. There are two entrances to the docks, and in 1893 the construction of a third-a deep water entrance- was begun. The South Pier, nearly a mile in length, forms in conjunction with the North Pier a protection for vessels lying in at the mouth of the river Tyne from the destructive gales from the NE and SE. The bar at the entrance to the river has been almost entirely removed by the operations of the Tyne Commissioners, so that vessels can enter at all states of the tide. The town is divided from North Shields by the estuary of the Tyne, and traffic and communication between them are carried on by means of steam ferries and small boats. There is also a half-hourly service of steamers to Newcastle.
The township comprises 90 acres of land and 142 of foreshore and water; population, 5946. Area of Westoe township, 1744 acres of land and 416 of water and foreshore; population, 72,445. Area of municipal and parliamentary borough, 1839 acres; population, 78,391. The ecclesiastical parishes. are St Hilda, Trinity, St Stephen, St Mary, St Mark, St Simon, St Jude, and St Aidan, which were constituted in 1845, 1834, 1844, 1864, 1874. 1875, 1883, and 1885. Population of St Hilda, 4957; of Trinity, 7893; of St Stephen, 13,758; of St Mary, 5703; of St Mark, 9848; of St Simon, 2721; of St Jude's, 8192; of St Aidan's, 6695. The livings are all vicarages, with the exception of St Stephen, which is a rectory in the diocese of Durham; net value of St Hilda, £560; of Trinity. £366; of St Stephen, £254; gross value of St Mary, £400; of St Mark, £300; of St Simon, £300, all with residence; gross value of St Jnde and St Aidan, £300. Patrons of St Hilda, Trinity, St Mary, and St Stephen, the Dean and Chapter of Durham; of St Mark, St Simon, St Jude, and St Aidan, the Crown and Bishop alternately. There are also two ecclesiastical parishes in Westoe-viz., St Thomas, St Michael and All Angels, South Westoe, constituted in 1864 and 1878. Population, 7578 and 10,924. The livings are vicarages in the diocese of Durham; net value, £296 and £300 respectively, the latter with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Durham, and the Crown and Bishop alternately.