Ocean Road History

Ocean Road in South Shields is rich in history and heritage.

Find out more below about the development of the area, the wide range of businesses over the years on Ocean Road, plus the history of the local community.

The Development of Ocean Road

In 1768, the Market Place Act was passed. Through this, 8 acres of ground were acquired by the Dean and Chapter upon which the Market Place, Cross and adjoining streets were laid out.

Properties were constructed on the Market Place, East Street, West King Street, Thrift Street, Dean Street, West Street and Church Row.

The surrounding land contained fields, farmland and a few cottages - there was initially no direct way from the Market Place to the sea.

Did you know? Ocean Road runs along a natural depression which causes many people to think it was once an outlet of the River Tyne to the Sea!

In 1861, South Shields Town Council carried out work to extend in a seaward direction from King Street, through an 'unmade' track called German Street. 

Robert Ingham, MP for the town at the time, public spiritedly gave up a plot of land to allow for some of the extension. The Tyne Commissioners also carried half of the cost. 

On completion the extension was named Ocean Road. 

It was part of a programme of re-paving and flagging the town's streets which was implemented through the early 1860's.

Businesses in Ocean Road 

End of the 19th Century and Early 1900s:

Later on in the 19th century, there was a rise in the visitors to the town area due to the opening of the new railway station on Mile End Road.

Ocean Road began to prosper and expand, with new and impressive shops and places of entertainment for visitors and locals to enjoy. 

In the early 1900's, Ocean Road boasted a variety of shops selling many items, including pharmacies and dispensing chemists, places of entertainment, education and worship.

Some of the stores on Ocean Road at the time included:

  • Ocean Road Post Office
  • Waud and Robinson - Grocers and Provision Merchants
  • British and Oriental Depot - supplied goods and souvenirs to visitors and locals
  • Ocean Road Dispensing Chemist and Pharmacy - Proprietor W.Dennis sold pharmaceutical goods as well as photographic material
  • Eastman's Ltd - sold everything from chocolate, milled seeds, cigars to handkerchiefs. They were also well known for stocking curry powder in various strengths


Ocean Road was a popular area during this time.

It was full of shops with a wide range of goods including gift shops for visitors, tempting the locals and holidaymakers to spend their money.

Other shops included:

  • Wood's the Tailors - they sold naval cadet uniform, men's raincoats, school-wear for all ages and tailoring to measure
  • Albert Mancini's - selling ice cream and other confectionary delights
  • Wigg's - a piano centre selling all models of piano
  • Stitt's Drug Store - an old-fashioned apothecary


As more immigrants came to South Shields and settled in the area around Ocean Road in the 1960's and onwards, several more traditional shops closed and were taken over by businesses related to hospitality.

Cinemas and theatres began to open (Gaumont, Savoy Cinema), as well as a range of food venues, public houses and hotels.

Some of the stores at this time included:

  • Savoy Furnishers
  • Domestic Electric Rentals Ltd - specialising in radios and televisions 
  • Gardners Ltd - confectionary store
  • Royal Hotel

21st Century:

As a part of a huge regeneration project, Ocean Road has had much needed flood defences installed in recent years.

There is still a mixture of residential houses, bed and breakfast establishments, shops and other businesses.

The area still contains numerous curry houses, continuing the town's strong reputation for continental and eastern cuisine.

Ocean Road Community

The Bangladeshi Community:

Bangladeshi migration in South Shields is very similar to other areas.

A few of the early immigrants were merchant seaman (known as Lascars) and came to work and live.

In the 1950 and 60's, immigrants came to work in the mills of the textile businesses that were available in Yorkshire and Lancashire. They were often later joined by their families.

The first Indian Restaurant to open was the Anglo Asian in 1958 on Ocean Road. It was owned by Mary Ullah and Lukman Syed Ali who wanted to bring the cuisine to our region.

In the 1960's, there were only a handful of restaurants and cafes - including the Anglo Asian, Bengal Restaurant and Star of India (one of the longest established restaurants in South Shields).

However, by the 1970's and 80's when jobs on the ships and in the factories began to decline, Bangladeshi men began to turn to the fast-growing Indian restaurant business.

Did you know? It is claimed that Ocean Road is one of the UK's longest stretches of Bangladeshi 'curry houses' (alongside a wide mix of other cultural restaurants)!

Ocean Road was an ideal place as it was on the way to the seafront and also close to the town centre. This meant that businesses could make use of the footfall from day trippers, those staying in the local B&Bs and the local community who came to the town for a night out.

Ocean Road and the surrounding terraced streets are where a lot of the community has settled.

Now, the area around Ocean Road and up towards Arbeia Roman Fort is at the heart of the Muslim community (containing mosques and community centres).

Information from:

·       Hodgson's History of South Shields

·       South Shields Through Time by Michael J Hallowell

·       The People's History Glimpses of Old South Shields by J & J Carlson