Historic buildings & monuments


South Tyneside has a wealth of monuments dedicated to the heritage and culture of the area.

Westoe and Boldon mining carts

South Tyneside is proud of its industrial heritage and is proud of its mining past.

To remember our proud history and the pits across South Tyneside, special mining carts are on public display in Westoe (at the end of Mowbray Road near the New Crown) and outside Boldon & Cleadon Community Library (formerly Boldon Library).

St Hilda's Pit Wheel

St Hilda's pit disaster claimed the lives of 51 men and boys on 28 June 28 1839, including two 12-year-olds.

The red pit wheel monument has stood on the grass verge alongside Station Road in South Shields, since 1989, and now is surrounded by a planted area, trees and park benches.

The memorial was first created in 1989, and cost £32,500 - paid for by a partnership of South Tyneside Council, British Coal and the National Union of Mineworkers.

Spirit of Jarrow

Located in Jarrow's Viking Centre shopping centre, the 'Spirit of Jarrow' is a life-sized bronze statue that was commissioned to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Jarrow March for Jobs that took place in October 1936.

Created by sculptor Graham Ibbeson and named by two local residents who won a competition, the monument shows two marchers, two children, a woman carrying a baby and a dog which was the march mascot.

They are all walking out of the ribs of a ship carrying the Jarrow Crusade banner.

Tyne Lifeboat

There's a long and proud maritime tradition and a rich heritage of seafaring, shipbuilding and lifesaving in South Tyneside. South Shields was the home of the nation's first purpose-designed lifeboat and one of the original vessels, 'Tyne'.

The 'Tyne' lifeboat, which was built by J. Oliver from South Shields in 1833, served the town for more than 60 years and saved 1,028 lives.

It was placed on public display at South Shields seafront in 1884 as a permanent reminder of the skill and bravery of the men of the Tyne Lifeboat Institution.

The Grade II listed monument has recently been refurbished and restored to its former glory.

John (James) Simpson Kirkpatrick

A memorial depicting Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey stands outside Kirkpatrick's public house on Ocean Road, South Shields. Also known as the 'man with the donkey', South Shields born Kirkpatrick emigrated to Australia where he joined the Army at the start of the First World War.

He went on to become a household name for rescuing injured soldiers under heavy Turkish fire at the battle of Gallipoli. Sadly Kirkpatrick was killed in action in 1915, aged just 22 - but not before saving more than 300 wounded comrades by carrying them to safety on his donkey.

In 2015 a plaque was unveiled to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle at Gallipoli on Littlehaven Promenade, overlooking the beach where Kirkpatrick used to work as a young boy on the donkey rides.

Dolly Peel

A statue to commemorate the memory of Dorothy Peel (1782 - 1857) stands on River Drive, South Shields, looking out over the River Tyne.

Known as Dolly, she was a fishwife and famous character in Victorian South Shields. She was also known as a smuggler and for protecting local sailors from the press gang.

She worked as a hawker of allegedly contraband goods and became well known for her wit and colourful stories.

She also published poetry, most notably verses praising the local liberal MP Robert Ingham, of whom she was a strong supporter, during the 1841 general election.

The monument was intended as a tribute to the strength of local working women.

Lawe Top Beacon

The Lawe Top Beacon was erected as a navigation aid in 1832 by John Turnbull and cost around £60.

The beacon and its twin companion opposite replaced the 18th Century structures and compliment the High and Low Lights at North Shields.

The Merchant Navy Memorial

Located at the Mill Dam, next to The Customs House the bronze and yellow ashlar monument depicts a sailor at the wheel on a sloping base to give the impression of what it is like to stand on a ship's deck in a choppy sea.

Overlooking the Tyne the statue was unveiled by the Duchess of Mountbatten, widow of distinguished naval commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten in memory of the merchant seamen who sailed from South Shields Port and lost their lives in World War II.

Historic buildings

The splendid architecture of South Tyneside is captured in magnificent buildings. These include:

South Shields Town Hall

This Grade II listed building opened in October 1910 in the heart of South Shields.

It has a truly beautiful interior with an oak-panelled council chamber, magnificent sweeping staircase, carved ceilings, marble floors and elegant reception rooms.

A memorial statue to Queen Victoria was added outside the front of the building in 1913.

Old Town Hall

Located in South Shields Market Square this Grade I listed building was erected in or around 1768 for The Dean and Chapter.

The upper room was designed for use as offices for their officials and a place to hold manorial courts etc, whilst the open space underneath provided shelter for a corn and provisions market.

The building has been put to a range of uses during its life including a charity school, Courts Leet, reading room and a shipping office. Today the Old Town Hall still houses a small office at ground level and the first floor is used for occasional exhibitions.

The Customs House

Built in the 1860s and beautifully renovated The Customs House sits proudly overlooking the River Tyne at the Mill Dam area of South Shields.

Initially a customs post for commercial shipping when the Tyne was a thriving centre of trade and activity, the building was closed and soon fell into disrepair during the decline of the shipping industry in the 1960s.

A listed building, the venue is now one of South Tyneside's premier centres for artistic and cultural life.

St Hilda's Colliery Pit Head, South Shields

Grade ll listed St Hilda's Pit Head is all that remains of the once significant St Hilda's Colliery, which earned its place in history for its 1899 disaster - essentially a massive underground gas explosion - after which candles were outlawed in all mines across the country in favour of electric lamps. A considerable innovation in mining safety at the time.

The Pit Head comprises winding and pump houses, which survived the closure and clearance of the main pit in 1940, being used for ventilation and emergency access to neighbouring Westoe Colliery.

Following major restoration the building is now home to community interest group Creative Seed.