Walking Tour of North Shields

Saturday 30th July 2022


Based at the Old Low Light and Fish Quay, with walking tours of
the Low Town and Heritage Action Zone in central North Shields

Highlights of our walking tour

Old Low Light - Stephenson's Northumberland Arms - Dobson's St Columba's Church

North Shields was first established when Tynemouth's Prior Germanus set up a small fishing community early in the 13thC. Its sheltered harbour, close to sea routes, often excited the jealousy of, and destruction by, Newcastle as it tried to maintain its monopoly of river trade. Yet North Shields developed into a thriving port along a narrow strip between the river and cliffs, or banks, behind. By the late 18thC increasing trade and population growth led to the building of a new town on top of the banks with spacious streets and squares in a marked contrast to the crowded Low Town.

The morning was spent inside the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, run by a local Charity, and outside on Walk 1. The Old Low Light was built in 1672, as one of a pair of navigation lights at the mouth of the river, inside and at the same time as Clifford's Fort was built to protect the Tyne from Dutch aggression. Early 18thC brick and early 19thC stone defences are still standing with the Fort. A range of 19thC and early 20thC fishing related buildings are still standing in the area, including the adjacent New Low Light which replaced the Old Low Light in 1811.

Walk 2 took us along to the Western Quay to view the current fishing fleet, before continuing along to the Duke of Northumberland's early 19thC deep water development of the New Quay. Here, the Duke's architect, David Stephenson built the Northumberland Arms with its six giant unfluted Ionic columns on a rusticated base. Next to it stands Benjamin Green's Sailors' Home building (1854/56) and other 19thC buildings. Close by the current developer Urban Splash is progressing with the regeneration of the Old Smiths Docks.

Walk 3 started outside the 1806 Tynemouth Lit & Phil Society building, now the Registry Office, before proceeding to the Howard/ Saville Street junction with John Johnston's 1858 Mechanics' Institute, later the Free Library, John Dobson's 1844/45 Town Hall and other 18thC buildings. We then passed Dobson's 1811 Scottish Presbyterian Church, 1857 Wesleyan Chapel and 1846 Baptist Church walking up Howard Street to Northumberland Square to see his Italianate St Columba's Church. Along the north side is a row of early 19thC Georgian houses facing the recently restored central gardens. The walk concluded by walking through to Christ Church, originally built in 1668 but extensively remodelled and raised in 1792, with its apse being added in 1869.

Booking form and detailed itinerary - as circulated to members.



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