History of South Shields

Brief History of South Shields

The town was founded in 1245, and developed as a fishing port.

Shipbuilding, salt panning, coal mining and glass manufacturing  were a major influence in both the social and economic development of South Tyneside. Salt-panning began in 1499 and by 1768 South Shields had more than 200 salt pans making it the most important salt making town in Britain. Glass manufacturing began  in the 1730s and by 1827 there were eight glass works.  In the 1800's coal mining led to a massive increase in the town's population  from 12,000 in 1801 to 75,000 by the 1860s. By the 1850s, shipbuilding had became a prominent industry.  The Marine School was set up by Dr. Thomas Winterbottom in 1837.

In the 1850's development were made to prevent the shifting and unpredictable sand bars and channels into the river.  The North and South Piers. were  completed in 1885 to help address the issues but  further developments were required to  sand on Littlehaven Beach flowing up the Tyne through the incoming tide including building the Herd Groyne Pier  in 1882.

South Shields was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1850 and  became a county borough in 1889 and remained so  until 1974 when it became part of the Metropolitan Borough of South Tyneside.

Development of the Town Centre

In 1760's   South Shields was still little more than a long narrow street  running alongside the Tyne adjoined by a some lanes and side roads. It  a was bordered by hills of ballast created by the offloading of visiting ships.

 In 1768 the Reverend Samuel Dennis and the Dean and Chapter of Durham obtained an Act of Parliament allowing them to undertake the development of eight acres of church land. On this land a market place was built along with several new streets laid out in a grid iron pattern.

At the centre of the market place a small square-shaped town hall was built  in 1768 opposite St Hilda's church. A new principal thoroughfare called King Street was built and  completed by 1826. In the 1850s the Town Hall and markets were purchased by the South Shields Corporation from the Durham Dean and Chapter.   The Customs House was constructed in 1864

South Shields has developed quickly since the 1800s as an industrial centre and was also populated with large residential areas of terrace housing.

By 1900 South Shields has become densely occupied by both commercial and domestic properties throughout its central core.