South Shields

Changing face of Tyneside

South Shields has six miles of coastline and three miles of river frontage, dominated by the massive piers at the mouth of the Tyne. One of the most striking features of South Shields (home of the romantic author Catherine Cookson) is its Town Hall of 1910, with its copper weather vane in the form of a galleon. Airships raided the Tyne in World War I and the town’s seafront amusement park was attacked in 1915. In World War II, it was much targeted by the Germans (156 people were killed in air raids). One direct hit on the market place killed more than 40 people who had taken shelter in tunnels below the square. South Shields also lost more seafarers than any other port in Britain during World War II.

The celebrated artist L S Lowry spent frequent periods at the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland, and painted a number of works in South Shields. The town has also been home to a Yemeni community since the 1890s.

In 1977 it was visited by boxer Mohammed Ali, whose wedding was blessed in the local mosque at Laygate. Ali visited the town after receiving an invitation from a local boys’ boxing club. South Shields has undergone significant post-industrial economic change. The shipyards, mines, salt pans and glass making have been replaced by service industries, including tourism and retail.

Places of interest

Tourist Information Centre, Museum & Gallery, Ocean Rd, SouthShields, NE33 2HZ. 0191 454 6612
Those interested in history will wish to have a good look at the supply base at Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum. Reconstructions, Life of a Roman Soldier exhibition and Death & Burial gallery are all
part of this hands-on exhibition to show what it was like for the ordinary Roman soldier.
Open April 1 – Oct 31 1000-1700; Nov 1 – March 31 1000-1500
daily. Admission: FREE. 0191 456 1369.
Tyne Cycle Tunnel
The tunnel was opened in 1951 to service the shipyards and was once used by 20,000 people a day. The tunnel is 274 metres long and was the first purpose-built cycle tunnel. Tiled in elegant green and white, there is a red brick rotunda at each end and a distinct flavour of the recent industrial past. As it is a public highway, the tunnel is free and is open 24 hours a day. There is also a lift should the old escalator be out of service.

Bede’s World Church Bank, Jarrow, Tyne & Wear,NE32 3DY
If you’re taking your time (and we feel that you should), Bede’s World (right) is well worth a visit. It is a lively celebration of the extraordinary life of the Venerable Bede (AD 673-735), who lived here 1300 years ago. The museum, next to the Tyne, has changing exhibitions. There’s a good café in Jarrow Hall and a new museum building.
0191 489 2106 F: 0191 428 2361

Cycle Shops

A-S Cycles 44 St Aidans Road, South Shields NE33 2HD Tel: 0191 456 3133

Conway Cycle Centre 12 Salem Street, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE33 1HH Tel: 0191 455 3579

Halfords Station Road, Millbank, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 1ED. Tel: 0191 4271600