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North Shields, Historical Account, 1890

Extract from: Kelly's Directory of Durham, 1890

NORTH SHIELDS is a seaport, forming part of the municipal and parliamentary borough of Tynemouth, with a station on the Newcastle and Tynemouth branch of the North Eastern railway, and is on the northern bank of and near the mouth of the river Tyne, which separates it from South Shields, in the county of Durham: it is 70 miles south-south-east from Berwick-upon-Tweed, 67 east-by-north from Carlisle, 16 north-by-east from Durham, 127 ½ south-east from Edinburgh, 191 north-north-east from Liverpool, 8 east-north-east from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 15 south from Morpeth, 93 north from York and 279 from London, and is the head of a county court district, in the Tyneside division of the county, eastern division of Castle ward, petty sessional division and union of Tynemouth, rural deanery of Tynemouth, archdeaconry of Northumberland and diocese of Newcastle The town has risen to its present importance and extent within the present century; previous to that period it was a very insignificant place. The earliest notice of North Shields as an inhabited place is in an account of certain proceedings which occurred during the reign of Edward I. in consequence of the trade which the Prior of Tynemouth was encouraging in this part of his territory, and of the claim of the burgesses of Newcastle to the exclusive trade of the Tyne.

The harbour is very commodious, and is capable of containing a large number of vessels, many of those arriving at Shields being destined for the Newcastle trade. The Tyne now forms a safe haven of sufficient depth to admit vessels of any tonnage, having since 1860 (when the condition of the river was at its worst) undergone many important and extensive improvements. The River Tyne Improvement Act of 1850 transferred the control of the river from the Corporation of Newcastle to a body of Commissioners; and since that date, a series of other Improvement Acts have been passed, under which operations of a most successful and beneficial character have been carried out; numerous sandbanks which obstructed the course of the river have disappeared, and the bar has been substantially removed, the depth on the bar having been increased, since 1860, from 6 feet 6 inches to 20 feet, and from 21 feet 6 inches at high water spring tides to 35 feet: the navigation of the channel of the river at low water spring tides, between the Narrows and Newcastle bridge has been increased during the same period, owing to the removal of sandbanks, by 65 acres, and the time of high water at Newcastle is now only 12 minutes later than at Shields, instead of, as formerly, 60 minutes. The north and south piers, now (1894) completed at Tynemouth and South Shields respectively, start at a distance of one mile apart, gradually approaching each other; the interval between the pier heads is a quarter of a mile only, and the area of the harbour from this point to the Narrows 450 acres, the area from the Narrows to the North dock entrance being 281 acres. On the north side of the harbour there are many dangerous rocks, rendering three lighthouses necessary, and three lifeboats are always ready for immediate service.

A very extensive dock, with two lock entrances, constructed at Coble Dene, west of the town, under the direction of the Tyne Commissioners, was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on the 21st August, 1884, and in honour of the occasion was named the “Albert Edward Dock.” It has an area of 27 acres, and a depth on the cills at high water spring tides of 30 feet, and at low water of spring tides of 15 feet, the lock entrances being in a depth of 22 feet at low water. In length the quay is about 3,000 feet, and the wall dividing it from the river has been constructed so as to give 1,500 feet of quay on the river side: sidings from the North Eastern railway are made to the dock, where there are about 13 miles of rail for the accommodation of traffic: a large staith has been constructed, on each side of which are four spouts for loading coal: vessels up to 400 feet in length, can be berthed at each side of the staith, and coal shipped at the Tate of 800 to 1,000 tons per hour. At the west side of the dock a warehouse capable of storing 40,000 quarters of grain has been erected, and is fitted with hydraulic appliances of the most improved description, the gates being opened and closed by the same power. If required the dock can be enlarged by the addition of 20 acres further inland. Its construction is intended to develop the import trade of the Tyne, and has cost £750,000. Further west, in the township of Chirton, is another dock, the Northumberland, with an area of 58 ½ acres, and a deep water timber quay.

Steam vessels ply between North Shields and Newcastle every half hour and across the river to South Shields every few minutes; the steam ferry to South Shields was opened in July, 1830, and the direct ferry, for passengers, in 1847.

The town is very regularly laid out, the principal streets running parallel to the course of the river, with many others intersecting them at right angles. It is lighted with, gas from the Tynemouth works, erected in 1871, near Percy Main, the property of a company. The Waterworks at Billy Mill towards the north-west of the town were incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1786, and are also the property of shareholders. At the east end of Tyne street is Dockwray square, the south side of which is opened to the sea and harbour, and forms a pleasant terrace commanding a fine view of an interesting and ever-moving scene; on this terrace, at a considerable height above the river, one of the lighthouses is situated; another, known by the name of the Low Light, is upon the shore below, and the third is upon the cliff on the north-east side of Tynemouth Castle. At Clifford’s fort, near the Low Light, is a submarine mining station. The coal trade has contributed greatly to the wealth, importance, and population of the town. The fishing industry has during the last few years greatly increased. The “Wellesley,” a training ship for homeless and destitute boys (unconvicted of crime), lies between the Fish Quay and the Ferries. There are marine engine works and iron foundries. Shipbuilding and repairing is carried on to some extent, there being floating, dry pontoon and graving docks. There are also salt works, a brewery, and an earthenware manufactory. The exports of North Shields consist entirely of coal and coke; the imports are corn, timber and esparto grass.

North Shields is within the parish of Tynemouth. Christ Church, the parish church, in Preston lane, is a plain building of stone, consisting of chancel, nave of three bays, aisles, and a western embattled tower, containing 10 bells and a clock: the interior has galleries on three sides, and all the windows are stained: the church will seat about 1,300 persons. The register dates from the year 1607. The living is a vicarage, average tithe rent-charge £86, gross yearly value about £400, with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Northumberland K.G, and held since 1868 by the Rev, Thomas Brutton M.A. of Pembroke College, Oxford, hon. canon of Newcastle, rural dean and surrogate.

Holy Trinity, or Western Town, is an ecclesiastical parish formed April 16, 1861; the church, in Collingwood street, is a building of stone, consisting of chancel, nave, and a western tower containing 1 bell: it has galleries on three sides; there are 1,000 sittings. The register dates from the year 1861. The living is a vicarage, tithe rent-charge £50, net yearly value £300 (of which £250 is furnished by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners), with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Northumberland K.G. and held since 1884 by the Rev. Robert Morrison Herdman M.A. of St. John’s College, Cambridge.

St. Augustine’s is an ecclesiastical parish, formed Oct. 30, 1860: the church, in Jackson street, built in 1884 at a cost of about £5,000, is an edifice in the Early English style, consisting of a lofty nave, with aisles and a north porch: a chancel has since been added at a cost of about £1,500: there is one stained window, the gift of the Sunday school children: the church will seat 600 persons. The register dates from the year 1884. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £267, in the gift of the Bishop of Newcastle, and held since 1893 by the Rev. William Larder Cunningham, of St. Bees.

St. Peter’s, or Low Town, is an ecclesiastical parish, formed Oct. 30, 1860: the church, in Borough road, is a building of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and a tower at the south-west angle, and a bell turret containing 1 bell: it has 750 sittings. The register dates from the year 1861. The living is a vicarage, tithe rent-charge, £50, gross yearly value £320, chiefly derived from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Northumberland K.G. and held since 1888 by the Rev. Philip Hughes Moore B.A. of St. John’s College, Cambridge.

St. Faith’s is a conventional district, formed from Christ Church in August 1891. The Mission Church is in Hudson street, but a site for a new church has been bought. The Rev. Frederick Ferdinand Rudolph Downie, L.Th. Durham, is curate in charge.

The Scandinavian Lutheran church, Borough road, is a building of stone, erected for the use of the seamen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden frequenting the port of Shields: there are 120 sittings. The Rev. Sofus Gedde Dahl is the minister.

The Catholic church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, in Bedford street, built in 1820-1, is an edifice of stone with a tower, surmounted by four pinnacles: the east window displays figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Infant Saviour in her arms, St. Oswin, and St. Cuthbert, the patron saint of the church: on the south side of the church is a stained window, erected by the congregation in memory of the Rev. Thomas and the Rev. Richard Gillow, two former priests, with figures of St. Thomas a Becket and of St. Richard, King of the West Saxons, underneath these being figures of the priests commemorated: on the north side of the church is an inscribed brass to the Rev. Richard Gillow. The Rev. James Stark R.A. and the Rev. George Gregson are resident priests.

There is a Jewish Synagogue in Linskill street, seating 50 persons.

The Baptist chapel, Howard street, erected in 1846, at a cost of £1,200, is an edifice of stone and will seat 700 persons. The Congregational chapel, Camden street, erected in 1817, is an edifice of stone, affording 800 sittings. There is also a Congregational chapel in Stephenson street, seating 500 persons. There are Methodist New Connexion chapels, in Millburn place (400 sittings) and Linskill street; the latter, erected in 1836 at a cost of £1,200, is a building of stone, and has 400 sittings. The Wesleyan chapel, Howard street, erected in 1807, at a cost of about £2,500, is a plain edifice of brick, and will seat 1,200 persons. The Wesleyan chapel in Collinwood street, has 250 sittings. The Wesleyan chapel, Tynemouth road, erected in 1892 at a cost of £8,000, is a fine building of stone and will seat 900 persons.

The Scotch church, in Howard street, erected in 1811, at a cost of £2,275, is a building of stone of the Grecian-Doric order, and has 700 sittings.

The United Presbyterian church, erected in 1857, in Northumberland square, will seat 500 persons.

There are Free Methodists chapels, in Howard street (700 sittings) and in Milburn place (400 sittings).

There is also a Free Methodist chapel in Dene street, seating 550 persons, and a Primitive Methodist chapel in Saville street west, with 550 sittings.

The Society of Friends' meeting-house in Stephenson street has 150 sittings.

The North Shields and Tynemouth Cemetery, in Albion street, formed in 1839, and consisting of 2 ¾ acres, is now closed to interments, and in 1892 was taken over by the Tynemouth Corporation and converted into a pleasure ground. The Tynemouth New Cemetery, Preston, on the west side of Hawkey’s lane, covers an area of 33 acres, and was opened Jan. 1, 1857; it has two mortuary chapels, and entrances with lodges on the east and north sides, and is under the control of the Tynemouth Corporation.

The Town Hall, in Saville street, erected in 1844, is a building of stone in the Elizabethan style, Connected with the Town Hall are the Police Courts, where sittings are held every day.

The Tynemouth Volunteer Artillery, Western Division, Royal Artillery, have a spacious drill hall in the Albion road.

The Assembly Rooms in Norfolk street, will hold 1,000 persons.

The Tyne Division of the Engineer Volunteer Submarine miners are stationed in North Shields.

The North Shields Club, in Northumberland square, erected in 1877-8, from designs by Mr. Henry Miller, architect, is an edifice of brick with stone facings, and the property of a limited liability company: there are 120 members.

The Custom House is on the New quay.

The Tyne Sailors’ Home, also on the New quay, is a building of stone, erected at the sole expense of the late Duke of Northumberland, at a cost of Upwards of £7,000, and opened by him on the 21st of Oct. 1856; upwards of £3,000 has been subscribed by the public and invested as an endowment; the home includes a library and a room furnished with newspaper and periodicals; there are beds for about 80 boarders; part of the building is occupied as a shipping office, money order office and savings bank for sailors.

The Master Mariners’ Asylum, on the Tynemouth road, built in 1837-8, at a cost of £5,100, on a site given by the late Duke of Northumberland, is an edifice of stone, in the Tudor style: a statue of the Duke has been erected in front of the building.

The House of Correction, in Tynemouth road, is a plain edifice of stone, now used only as a place of temporary confinement for remanded prisoners, previous to their removal to Her Majesty’s Prison at Newcastle-on-Tyne.

The Baths and Washhouses, in Saville street, were erected in 1854: the former consist of first and second class warm, cold, vapour and shower baths for both males and females.

The Free Library, in Howard street, has 28,419 volumes.

The North Shields and Tynemouth Dispensary, in Church street, was established in 1802, and is supported by voluntary contributions; the number of cases treated in 1892 was 7,954.

The Borough of Tynemouth Infirmary, in Hawkey’s lane, erected in 1888 at a cost of £3.000, is a structure of red brick, and is available for 17 in-patients. It is supported by voluntary contributions.

There is a Soup Kitchen in Wellington street.

Fairs are held on the last Friday in April and the first Friday in November.

The area of the township of North Shields is 36 acres; rateable value, £17,480; the population in 1891 was 6,046, including 304 in the Tyne Industrial training ship “Wellesley.”

The population of the ecclesiastical parishes in 1891 was Christ Church (the parish church), 13,371; Holy Trinity, 12,980; St. Peter, 3,504; St. Augustine, 4,988.

Preston is a township and village in the parish of Christ Church, 1 mile north of North Shields. The area is 777 acres; rateable value, £10,852; the population in 1891 was 2,178.


Board day, alternate Thursdays.

Office, 55 Saville street, North Shields.

Tynemouth Union comprises the following townships:-Backworth, Bebside, Blyth (South), Newsham, Burradon, Chirton, Cowpen, Cramlington, Cullercoats, Delaval, Earsdon, Hartford (East), Hartford (West), Hartley, Holywell, Harton, Howdon Pans, Killingworth, Longbenton, Monkseaton, Murton or Moortown, Preston, Seaton Delaval, Seghill or Sedgehill, Shields (North), Tynemouth, Walker, Wallsend, Weetslade, Whitley & Willington. The population of the union in 1891 was 133,219 including 1,557 on board ships in the Blyth & Tyne rivers; area 38,635 acres; rateable value in 1893, £537,228.

Places of worship, with times of services

  • Christ Church (Tynemouth Parish Church), Preston lane, Rev. Canon Thomas Brutton M.A. vicar; 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.; daily at 11.30 a.m. & 7.30 p.m.
  • St. Peter’s, Borough road, Rev. Philip Hughes Moore B.A. vicar; 8.30 & 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.; open all day for private prayer.
  • Holy Trinity, Collingwood street, Rev. R. Morrison Herdman M.A. vicar; Rev. Parsons Edward Fitzpatrick Berry M.A. & Rev. Thomas Milner, curates; 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.
  • St. Augustine’s, Jackson street, Rev. William Larder Cunningham, vicar; 8.30 & 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.
  • Low Lights Mission Room, Low Lights, Rev. Herbert Hicks; 6.30 p.m.
  • St. Faith’s Mission Church, Hudson street, Rev. F. F. Rudolph Downie L.Th, curate-in-charge; 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Fri. 7.30 p.m.
  • St. Cuthbert’s Catholic Church, Bedford street, Rev. James Stark B.A. & Rev. George Gregson, priests; mass, 8, 9.30 & 11 a.m.,; instruction, benediction & children’s service 3.30 & vespers, sermon & benediction, 6.30 p.m.; Thur. 7.30 p.m.; daily, mass, 8 a.m.; holidays of obligation, mass, 5, 8 & 10 a.m. & even, service 7 p.m.
  • Scandinavian Lutheran Church, Borough road, Rev. Sofus Gedde Dahl; 10,30 a.m. &; 5 p.m.
  • Friends’ Meeting House, 14 Stephenson street; 10.30 a.m. & 5.30 p.m.
  • Jewish Synagogue, 29 Linskill street, Rev. Abraham Isaac Scheff; Fri. evening & sat. morning.
  • Scotch Church, Howard street, Rev. David Tasker, minister; 11 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.\
  • United Presbyterian, Northumberland square; Rev. David Christie M.A.; 10.45 a.m. & 6 p.m.
  • Baptist, Howard street, Rev. Charles Stanley, pastor; 11 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.
  • Congregational, Stephenson street, Rev. Henry Vivian Williams; 10.45 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Thur. 7.30 p.m.
  • Congregational Church (St. Andrew’s), Camden street, Rev. J. Easton Browne M.A. minister; 10.45 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.
  • Methodist Free Church, Howard street & Milburn place & Hudson street; 10.30 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Tues. 7 p.m. & at Hudson street; Mon. 7 p.m.
  • Methodist New Connexion, Milburn place & Linskill street, Rev. John James; 10.30 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Tues. 7 p.m.
  • Primitive Methodist, Saville street west; various; 10.30 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Wed. 7 p.m.
  • United Methodist Free Church, Dene street, Rev. Mr. Fryer, pastor; 10.30 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Mon. 7 p.m.
  • Wesleyan, Howard street; 10.30 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Tues. 7.30 p.m.
  • Wesleyan, Collingwood street; 10,80 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Mon. 7 p.m.
  • Wesleyan, Tynemouth road; 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Tues. 7.15 p.m.


  • Holy Trinity, Milburn place, Rev. R. Morrison Herdman M.A. 10.30 a.m. 6.30 p.m.; Thur. 7.30 p.m. Methodist Free Church Mission Room, Hudson street; 10.30 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Mon. 7 p.m.
  • Methodistl New Connexion (Salem), King street; 6.15 p.m.
  • People’s Mission Room, Norfolk street.
  • Pottery Yard Mission, Northumberland street, John Drury, superintendent; 10.15 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Thur. 8 p.m.


Board Schools

  • All under the control of the Tynemouth School Board.
  • John W. Lambton, Howard street, clerk to the Board.
  • Eastern, East Percy street, built in 1876, for 955 children; average attendance, 334 boys, 284 girls & 291 infants.
  • Holy Trinity, Trinity street (boys), for 318 children; average attendance, 120.
  • Royal Jubilee, Albion road, built in 1809, for 1,034 children: average attendance, 360 boys, 244 girls, 273 juniors mixed & 195 infants.
  • Western, Penman street built in 1875, for 1,358 children; average attendance, 269 boys, 225 girls, 343 juniors mixed & 290 infants.

Other Schools

  • Kettlewell, boys & girls (mixed), George street, founded in 1825, by Mr. Thomas Kettlewell; it will hold 327 boys; average attendance, 300.
  • National (boys & girls), Albion road, built in 1670, for 600 children; average attendance, 266 boys, 190 girls & 134 infants.
  • National, Borough road (girls & infants), built in 1870, for 300 children; average attendance, 147 girls & 53 infants.
  • St. Mary’s Covent, Albion road, built in 1868; average attendance, 140 girls & 100 infants.
  • Presbyterian Scotch Church (mixed), Howard street, built in 1841, for 350 children; average attendance, 300.
  • Union British, Norfolk street, built in 1857. for 520 children; average attendance, 373.
  • Catholic (boys & girls), Nelson street, built in 1840, for 503 children; average attendance, 380.

Water Conveyance

  • Steam vessels to Newcastle, from New quay, summer, 5, 5.20 & 7 a.m. & every half hour from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.; winter, 5, 5.30. 6 & 7 a.m. & every half hour from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
  • Steam Ferries to South Shields, from the east end of the New quay every 12 minutes, from 5.30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; from the west end of the New quay every quarter of an hour from 6.30 a.m. to 10 p.m. & from 10 p.m. to 2.30 a.m. & from 4.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. every half hour & from White Hill point every quarter of an hour from 5.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays & 12 p.m. week nights.
North Shields


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