North Shields stands on the north bank of the River Tyne and takes its name from the “sheilings” or “shiels” (traditional fisherman’s huts) that once covered the riverbank.
The historic Fish Quay, where the origins of the town were founded, dates back hundreds of years, and is still a thriving working quay today. North Shields Fish Quay is continuing to undergo an exciting programme of regeneration through public and private investment, which is making the area a more popular place to live, work and relax. Clifford’s Fort, a Ancient Scheduled Monument, was built as a coastal defence against the Dutch in the 17th Century. Popular with visitors who like to stroll along the quay and watch the boats sail up and down the river, the Fish Quay is a great place to enjoy some fish and chips or a meal on the many outside restaurant seating areas.
The town itself spread up the bank from the Fish Quay in the 18th Century to the familiar location it occupies today with Bedford Street, the Beacon Shopping Centre and Northumberland Square at the heart of the town. North Shields has gone through an expansive period of regeneration, notably the Royal Quays area that has been rejuvenated with new housing, an outlet village centre, marina, hotel and a range of attractions. Smiths Dock has also now begun to be developed out after a long period of standstill following the crash in the housing market. This large site, a former ship yard, is now being developed in phases for a range of residential properties and when completed will provide over 800 quality new homes within North Shields.
A statue of comedy legend Stan Laurel can be seen in Dockwray Square, overlooking the Fish Quay. Stan spent some of his childhood years living in North Shields. Born in Ulverston, Cumbria, he moved here where his father was a theatre manager.
The small village of Cullercoats lies between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth and was founded on the fishing and salt industries. The focal point of the village is the picturesque natural harbour of Cullercoats Bay. Cullercoats is popular with locals and visitors who take a stroll along the seafront and enjoy fish and chips or ice cream overlooking the bay. The area has also now become very popular for water sports, including paddle boarding, kayaking and jet skis.
Cullercoats has a long history as a popular artist and photography destination and was once s significant artist’s colony with the leading American artist Winslow Homer having spent some time living and working in Cullercoats in the 1880s. Local scenes hang in some of the most prestigious art galleries across the world.
Opposite the grand Grade I listed St George’s Church (the only Grade I listed building in North Tyneside) is a headland called George’s Point. At the foot of the headland there used to be an inlet called Smuggler’s Cave which became a favourite haunt for smugglers in the 18th Century. Legend has it that the smugglers used a system of signs and signals to communicate between themselves.
The historic and picturesque village of Tynemouth stands at the mouth of the River Tyne, a mile or so from the Fish Quay, with the magnificent Priory and Castle dominating the headland.
A religious site has existed at the headland since the 7th Century when an Anglian monastery, burial place of St Oswin, was founded. The present Benedictine Priory was founded in the 11th Century. The castle dates from the 12th Century and it was strengthened some 300 years later. The site, long considered a fortress, played a role as a coastal defence up until the Second World War.
Tynemouth has two stunning blue flag award winning beaches, the magnificent Longsands and the smaller King Edward’s Bay. Tynemouth Longsands sweeps majestically round the coastline and is popular with visitors for a number of recreational activities whether it be a stroll along the beach, enjoying the summer sunshine or to take part in water sports of which surfing is particularly popular with locals and visitors alike. King Edward’s Bay is more secluded and nestles under the cliffs by Tynemouth Priory and Castle. It is also now home to the nationally famous and extremely popular Riley’s Fish Shack restaurant, which offers an array of locally sourced seafood.
The focal point of the village is the late Georgian Classical Front Street with its many independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. The restored station, a fine example of a Victorian era railway station, has regular weekend markets and events throughout the year.
Overlooking the mouth of the Tyne, stand two important reminders of local maritime history. The first is the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House, which charts the history of the world’s first volunteer life brigade, still in active service today. The second is Collingwood Monument, which was erected in memory of Lord Cuthbert Collingwood who took over from Lord Nelson following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The town of Wallsend has played a major part in history, dating back to Roman times, through to the heyday of coal mining and the shipbuilding industry, to the growing offshore renewable, subsea and oil and gas sector industries.
Wallsend gets its name from the mighty Hadrian’s Wall, a World Heritage Site that once stretched across northern England, marking the eastern most point with the fort of Segedunum. In 2000, Roman life was re-introduced when the multi-award winning Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum opened.
Coal and shipbuilding have had a major impact on Wallsend. Wallsend coal was considered the finest coal around and was shipped off to the wealthy in London. More recently, the world famous former Swan Hunters shipyard put Wallsend on the map, having been central to the heyday of shipbuilding in the region. The former ship yard is now an Enterprise Zone and is being developed for manufacturing for the offshore renewable, subsea and oil and gas sector.
Ships built on the Tyne in Wallsend include the Mauretania that held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing for 22 years and the Carpathia that rescued survivors from the Titanic.
The town centre has undergone a major regeneration push in recent years, which has delivered a brand new central supermarket, town centre car parking and a new library as well as significant private investment in the towns Forum Shopping Centre.
The famous seaside town of Whitley Bay, which was first mentioned around the year 1100 during the reign of Henry I, has been popular with generations of visitors. The golden sandy beach and the dramatic backdrop of St Mary’s Lighthouse gives the town the perfect image of a coastal resort. A relaxed atmosphere, with an ever growing number of new restaurants and cafes, attracts the visitors from miles round. Numbers of visitors, new businesses and new residents are growing steadily with the completion of the Northern Promenade, Spanish City and a number of new seafront dwellings, which has brought a significant boost to the town following a prolonged period of decline.
At the northern end of Whitley Bay sands is the iconic St Mary’s Lighthouse, one of the country’s most painted and photographed buildings. Completed in 1898 and on an island accessed by a tidal causeway, St Mary’s Lighthouse is no longer in active service but is now a visitor centre. The surrounding nature reserve contains rock pools, grassland, a beach and a wetland habitat and is now home to a colony of seals.
As you would expect from a seaside resort, Whitley Bay has a range of accommodation to suit all needs and pockets, all of which are located on or near the coast and close to the town centre amenities and the town’s Metro Station.
The evening economy is evolving in Whitley Bay, where the town was once a favourite with stag and hen party’s, there is now a growing number of high end restaurants and bars offering a wide range of cuisine.
Throughout the year there are a number of exciting events in the town centre and on the Links on the seafront. The towns exciting events programme includes the Whitley Bay annual carnival, fire work display on The Links, the classic car show and the food and drink festival.
All of the regeneration and exciting events are transforming Whitley Bay into the perfect destination for family friendly day outs, which now compliments the entire North Tyneside coast.