Fish Quay Future - Newsletter 4, January 2012

You can also download our January 2012 newsletter in PDF format.


Plan of Attack

Townscape Heritage Initiative

The Fish Quay Heritage Partnership is delivering the Townscape Heritage Initiative, a 5 year scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and North Tyneside Council to help regenerate the Fish Quay Conservation Area.

The THI is designed to enhance the local historic environment and repair and re-use targeted historic buildings-at-risk, so they can contribute to the local economy. It also encourages people to get involved in their local heritage.

The THI plans to spend £1m in the Fish Quay area by 2012. Download the THI Action Plan to find out more.

All Hands On Deck

all hands on deck image

The Fish Quay has always been an important place for regeneration and development and it's in the spotlight once again for a new, never-been-done-before project. The Fish Quay & New Quay Conservation Areas are the focus of a new planning initiative introduced by the Coalition Government. It will be one of 17 pilot Neighbourhood Plans, a new provision introduced by last year's Localism Act. So what's it all about?

Neighbourhood planning is part of Localism which is all about the Government giving their centralised power to local people so they can make important decisions about their own neighbourhood. The Government wants to empower communities to take control and seriously influence the development of their local area.

Usually, the Local Planning Authority (North Tyneside Council) would write a development plan for the area and include community consultation. But now, local people can get together and write their own development plan which will have genuine weight in planning decisions for the future. Development plans are used to help decide planning applications and development proposals as well as providing a vision for the area. 

Since last summer, a group of more than two dozen locals have gathered to form a group which will write the plan for Fish Quay & New Quay Conservation Areas. They intend to consult widely and aim to get as many people as possible involved.

What's Happened So Far...

The project officially started in June 2011 but it took a while to get the group up and running. After appointing a chair and vice-chair, and establishing what needed to be done, the group stepped it up and started the process of producing a new Neighbourhood Plan.

To get things started, members of the working group jotted down their own ideas for the Fish Quay. Then, evidence needed to be gathered to back up the plan and help the group understand the kinds of issues the Fish Quay area faces. 

A series of workshops were arranged where companies and agencies from around the region came to speak. They provided their expert knowledge on issues such as design, conservation, flood risk, land use and development value. This has helped the group to understand what is and isn't possible and what kind of issues they need to consider in the plan.

All of this is now to be a basis for consulting the community. The group's rough ideas are forming the basis of a plan but by no means are they set in stone. The group want your opinions and ideas to incorporate the best and most realistic ambitions into the plan to shape the future of the Fish Quay. 

The whole point of this exercise is that it's written by, and is supported by, the community.

The group has now split into four subgroups:

  • Economy & Transport
  • Environment
  • Housing
  • Shopping & Recreation


Each group is looking in more detail at the issues surrounding these four headings and aims to come up with more ideas of what could be done. Get in touch with your own thoughts, whatever they may be, about future development in the area.


More exciting news for the Fish Quay as another Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) Grant has been awarded at 17 Union Quay.

The latest grant from the THI to be given is seeing an unused and derelict building repaired and restored. New users for 17 Union Quay have yet to be foundbut it is the focus of around £90,900 to bring the building back into good repair and convert it for new economic use.

Over the past two years, THI grants have been available to restore historic buildings in the Fish Quay area to their former glory by repairing and reinstating historic features which are essential to the building's character. The THI is all about economic regeneration, providing owners with grants to help the local economy grow and expand.

17 Union Quay vacant and in need of repairs

The vacant building at 17 Union Quay has a long history . It was previously split into two units with Martin's Bank occupying one section and G S Ballards, a local wet fish shop, in the other section.

The grant will fund works to create two shop units once again and reinstate two traditional shopfronts. As well as this, the  upper floors will be converted into four apartments, new traditionallydesigned timber windows will be installed based on historic photographic evidence and other exterior improvements carried out.

17 Union Quay is situated near to the waterfront t alongside the other local businesses and has been vacant for a number of years. The works will improve the appearance of the area as well as encouraging regeneration of the local economy by creating new accommodation for rent.

Above: Historic image of 17 Union Quay within the streetscape (date unknown)

Net Gain?

Fish Quay has a long and extraordinary history which has been celebrated for a number of years, but there's never been a dedicated place which can tell the story of the Fish Quay. Well, now there could be! F.I.S.H. (Folk Interested in Shields Harbour) has been awarded a grant from North Tyneside Council's Big Society Community Investment Fund to conduct a consultation exercise into a centre where the story of the community can be shared with locals and visitors alike.

The subgroup driving forward the project which is called 'the net' is aiming to gauge local interest to draw up plans to be used to gain further funding for the heritage centre. The group includes a wide range of local interests with F.I.S.H. members, former teachers, historians, residents and a local artist.

Results so far show there is no doubt that the local community will be supportive of plans for a heritage centre. Previous events, held on the annual Heritage Open Day, have been very well received.

low lights building

Discussions are ongoing to see whether the Old Low Light building can be used as the location for the net – an appropriate title for a centre aiming to bring in people of all ages. Jan Taylor, chair of the net said "We want a place where there are active opportunities to find out about the past, cherish the environment, develop skills and creativity, and share in planning for the future".

A clear vision for the net has been set with the centre hoping to include gallery space, a learning area, a venue space to hire, a base for guided walks and classes, a local craft shop, a themed children's activity area and a cafe with views across the harbour. Old craft skills will be promoted with basket making, knotting, net making and knitting as well as the possibility to help family historians. The possibilities are endless!

Although it is by no means yet certain that the Old Low Light can be used, it does provide a perfect opportunity to attract tourists. Many local community groups are already supportive of the idea of a centre.

There's already an abundance of information out there in the community but for more information and to keep informed with developments of the project log onto: or,

Herring History

herring history

The North Shields Fish Quay is well-renowned as one of the most important fishing ports of the north and archive footage online shows exactly that.

After browsing the British Pathé website, Sid Cullen a local man stumbled across a video documentary named "Drifters". The video doesn't identify the location at which it was filmed, but the local resident recognises the Fish Quay from his childhood.

The video highlights the most important ports in England, of which North Shields was one, and continues the documentary to show the hard work carried out by the fishermen, explaining how the herring were caught in the shallow seas around Britain.

The video account shows us just how hard the fishermen worked and the hard tasks ahead of them each day.

The crew would depart to sea in the afternoon and return early the next morning with their fresh catch ready to sell to the merchants – but those hours at sea were gruelling and heavy work for the fishermen.

"The video reminds me of how the Fish Quay looked when I was a child" says Sid Cullen, "it shows a typical working port as I remember it". British Pathé, where the video is held, is one of the oldest media companies in the world holding over 90,000 videos of archived footage including newsreel, sports footage and entertainment.

Not only has a great piece of Fish Quay history been found, the video also gives recognition to the Quay as one of the most important ports in the north. The local resident has contacted the archive to inform them of the video's location and hopefully their information will be updated.

You can view the video at

Or, why not search for other videos relating to the Fish Quay's heritage




Fish Quay Gulls


Like it or not gulls are an essential part of the Fish Quay! Two large species of gulls frequent the quay - the Herring Gull and the Great Black-backed Gull.

Herring Gulls nest locally on rooftops and chimney stacks and these wintering gulls fly from Scandinavia and areas of northern Britain.

The Great Black-backed Gulls are visitors from further afield. They depart from the mouth of the Tyne between April and June to disperse and breed.

The Black-legged Kittiwake is a species with a much gentler manner and small numbers frequent the Fish Quay. They are true marine birds and always like to be close to salt water spending the winter at sea then returning to north east England in March.

During the winter months, the Fish Quay is also visited by a few arctic gulls from Iceland and Greenland which join our local wintering gull population. Such rarer gulls attract bird-watchers from some distance.

Join the Fish Quay THI

The Partnership overseeing the THI is looking for new members from the local area. Are you interested in joining?

Every three months, the Fish Quay Heritage Partnership meets to discuss progress with the THI, make decisions and offer advice and comment to the Council officers who run the scheme day-to-day.

There are some vacancies for people to join the Partnership, and we are inviting anyone to get in touch if they are interested in knowing more.

  • Do you have a particular passion for the Fish Quay area?
  • Do you have an opinion on its future, or knowledge of its past?
  • Could you contribute to constructive debate on how to spend Heritage Lottery Funding?

To be eligible you must live, work or own property in the conservation area, be a regular visitor, or have good knowledge of its built or natural heritage.

Partnership meetings are held on the Quay and are always a lively affair.

If you're interested, get in touch with a few lines telling us why. 

Contact Ian McCaffery on (0191) 643 2310 ian.mccaffrey@

Get in touch by 19 March 2012.

fishing silhouette

Fish Quay Heritage Partnership

The Fish Quay Heritage Partnership is a committee of local councillors, residents, businesses and others who have a keen interest in the history, architecture and character of the Fish Quay Conservation Area, North Shields, and who hope to see it protected, enhanced and regenerated. It is a sub-group of the North Tyneside Regeneration Partnership, part of the district's local strategic partnership.

The group's main task is to oversee the Townscape Heritage Initiative (see front cover), but it also acts as an informal forum for debate with the Council about the local historic environment - from new development to street furniture. For more information, see below, or download previous editions of the newsletter.

For more information and to get involved contact:

Ian McCaffery
Conservation Officer,
North Tyneside Council,
Quadrant, Silverlink North,
Cobalt Business Park,
North Tyneside
NE27 0BY

T: (0191) 643 2310
E: ian.mccaffrey@

Jules Brown
Planning Coordinator,
North of England Civic Trust,
Blackfriars, Monk Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne

T: (0191) 232 9279

Fish Quay Videos Videos of the North Shields Fish Quay


Find out what Fish Quay life was and is like in our video vault section. 

Fish Quay Commercial Property to Rent

The Smokehouses

Modern office and studio accommodation situated on the historic North Shields Fish Quay.

The Smokehouses