South Shields, Durham

Historical Description

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.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County County Durham
Civil parish Jarrow
Poor Law union South Shields
Ward Chester

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for South Shields from the following:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering county Durham online: