South Tyneside is a borough in Tyne and Wear in northeast England, with a population in 2011 of 148,127. It's a series of towns that have been industrial since the Middle Ages, and that historically lay in County Durham. In 1974 they were gathered together as a new borough, while similar towns across the river were formed into North Tyneside, and along with Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Washington they all formed the new metropolis of Tyne and Wear.
South Shields is the largest town in the borough, with a population of 76,498 in 2011. "Shields" means fishermen's huts, and it stands at the mouth of the River Tyne. The Romans built their fort of Arbeia here, the supply base for their positions along Hadrian's Wall and to the north. There's a sandy beach so in the 19th century the town became a coast resort. It's mostly industrial but further south are cliffs and grassy headlands down the coast towards Sunderland.
Upriver between South Shields and Jarrow is the large dockland of Port of Tyne. This handles North Sea freight, but the ferry terminal is on the opposite bank in North Shields.
Jarrow (2011 population 43,431) had a monastery run jointly with Monkwearmouth in Sunderland: in the 8th century this was home to the Venerable Bede, the first chronicler of English history. Jarrow Hall is an outdoor museum on the site of the monastery. In the 19th century the town was busy with shipbuilding, but this collapsed in the 1930s leading to mass unemployment. The legendary Jarrow March or Crusade of 1936 was a four-week mass march by the unemployed to London to present a petition to Parliament. Nothing much happened as a result, but once World War 2 broke out the town was busy again.
Hebburn to the west, and Boldon a group of three villages to the south, are industrial and residential. Few visitors will have reason to go there.
Get in Edit
For long-distance routes by air, rail, bus or ferry see Newcastle upon Tyne.
South Tyneside is on the Metro Yellow Line. This runs every 10-15 min from Newcastle city centre to Gateshead, Heworth, Pelaw, Hebburn, 1 Jarrow Metro, Bede, Simonside, Tyne Dock, Chichester and 2 South Shields Metro. From Newcastle Airport ride the Green Line and change in city centre anywhere up to Pelaw, where that line forks for Sunderland. Reckon a 50 min ride from the airport and 30 min from city centre. North of the Tyne, the Yellow Line loops through Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, North Shields and Wallsend then back to city centre.
The south bank stations are in Fare Zone C so from the airport or Newcastle city centre you need an all-zone ticket. In 2022 an adult single is £3.90 and a day-ticket is £5.70.
3 South Shields ferry pier is served by the Shields Ferry across the Tyne from North Shields. This carries foot passengers and bicycles and takes 7 min, sailing every 30 min M-Sa 07:00-19:30 (Th-Sa to 22:00) and Su 10:30-18:00. In 2022 an adult single is £2.10 and a day ticket is £3.40. On the far side, Shuttle Bus 333 links the pier to North Shields town centre and Metro station and is included in the ferry fare.
Although Port of Tyne is mostly on the south bank, the overnight DFDS ferries from IJmuiden near Amsterdam dock at the north bank terminal in North Shields.
By road follow A19. At Jarrow this dives into the Tyne Tunnel to re-emerge at Howdon. The toll in 2021 was £1.90: there are no cash booths, pay online by midnight next day. Cyclists and pedestrians must use their own tunnels alongside, see below.
Get around Edit
For local destinations within Fare Zone C you only need a one zone ticket, so (as of 2021) a single is £2.10 and a day-ticket is £3.30. On the Metro this covers from Hebburn out to South Shields.
Local buses are operated by Go North East:
- Buses 5, 26 and 27 zigzag and meander between Hebburn, Jarrow and South Shields, via more industrial and housing estates than you'd think possible.
- Buses from Durham run every 20-30 min and take 90 min to South Shields: Bus 20 via Sunderland, and Bus 50 via Chester-le-Street, Washington and Boldon.
- Bus 9 runs from Sunderland every 30 min to Boldon and Jarrow.
4 Pedestrian and Cyclist Tyne Tunnels go under the river from Jarrow. Built in 1951, they're 884 ft / 270 m long, and entered by funicular lifts and by the original wooden Waygood-Otis escalators. The tunnels were closed for rebuilding 2013-2019 but are now open 24 hours except Christmas Day, and free to use.
- 1 Arbeia Roman Fort, Baring Street, South Shields NE33 2BB, ☏ . April-Sept M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 11:00-16:00, Su 14:00-17:00. Site of a large Roman fort: the west gatehouse, barracks and commander's quarters have been reconstructed. This was the supply base for Hadrian's Wall, which began at Wallsend on the north riverbank and marched westward up hill down dale to the Solway beyond Carlisle. It was also the depot for expeditions further north against the Picts or Scots. "Arbeia" means "of the Arabs" - in the 2nd / 3rd century it was garrisoned by recruits from Singara, now Sinjar in Iraq. One grave monument mourns the British wife of Barates, a merchant from Palmyra in Syria. Another commemorates Victor, a young Moorish freed slave. Castra canis amica est - the fort is dog-friendly. Free.
- 2 South Shields lighthouse is at the end of the 5150 ft / 1.57 km pier, completed in 1895. It's just a stubby navigation light, like its counterpart on the north pier from Tynemouth: the long-range lighthouse is Souter, see below. It's complemented at the landward end by Herd Groyne lighthouse, completed in 1867, and resembling the love-child of a Wild West railroad watertower and a Triffid.
- Marine Park is the pleasant green space between the Roman Fort and the pier. There are sandy beaches and a funfair, see below. On Ocean Rd which bisects the park are the sturdy Lifeboat Memorial and the Tyne Lifeboat of 1833.
- South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, Ocean Road NE33 2JA (north side of Metro station), ☏ . M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 11:00-16:00. Council-run museum featuring collections and artifacts of Catherine Cookson (1906-1998), the prolific author of historical romances. The art collection mainly has 19th and 20th century work by British artists, with an emphasis on local subjects. Free.
- The Word (National Centre for the Written Word), 45 Market Place, South Shields NE33 1JF (by South Shields ferry pier), ☏ . M-Th 09:00-19:00m, F 09:00-17:00, Sa Su 10:00-16:00. The municipal library houses this cultural centre with exhibitions and events around the written word. Free.
- Westoe a mile south of South Shields is nowadays engulfed by the main town but preserves an attractive village centre with limited vehicle access. It was often the setting for the fiction of Catherine Cookson, but its greatest legacy is the Westoe Netty, a Victorian public toilet, now in Beamish Museum.
- Memorials to the Jarrow marchers include a steel relief on the facade of Jarrow Metro station, and Spirit of Jarrow a group bronze statue by Morrison's Supermarket. (Not to be confused with Jarrow Spiritualists, whose church is t'other side of Morrison's car park.)
- 3 Jarrow Hall (formerly Bede's World), Church Bank, Jarrow NE32 3DY (Metro: Jarrow or Bede), ☏ . Mar-Nov Th-Su 10:00-16:00. Depicting the life and times of the monastic author the Venerable Bede (672-735). There's a museum, a replica Saxon farm and village, the Georgian hall and herb garden, and the ruins of Bede's monastery now within the grounds of St Paul's Church. Adult £7, conc or child £4.
- 4 Souter Lighthouse, Coast Road, Whitburn SR6 7NH, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Feb-Oct daily 11:00-17:00. This lighthouse, completed in 1871, was the first to use AC electricity, from its own generator. It closed in 1988 without being automated, so its living arrangements are well-preserved. Climb the 76 steep steps up to the light and see for miles on a clear day - St Mary's is the equivalent lighthouse north of the Tyne. One of the keepers' cottages shows early 20th century household life, and the others are available as holiday lets. Adult £7.50, child £3.75, parking £1 / hr, NT free.
- The Leas north of the lighthouse is a grassy headland, and Whitburn Coastal Park to the south is reclaimed colliery land.
- 5 Whitburn Windmill along A183 was built in 1796 and ground corn until 1896.
- Whitburn Bents at the south end of Whitburn village is a group of cottages from 1936, on the site of an earlier fishing and farming village. From here the sandy beach stretches south into Seaburn, see Sunderland.
- 6 Cleadon Windmill, active in the 19th century, is now a ruin in the breezy hills. These were quarried for their limestone; the area is now a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
- Customs House in South Shields has a cinema and theatre / music hall. It's on Mill Dam 200 yards south of the ferry pier, Box Office +44 191 454 1234.
- Ocean Beach Pleasure Park is in Marine Park at the foot of South Shields pier.
- Golf: nearby courses are Whitburn GC, South Shields GC[dead link] and Boldon GC. You can also reach Tynemouth GC via the ferry.
- South Tyneside Music Festival is held in Bents Park on four Sundays in July, with the next on 9, 16, 23 and 30 July 2023.
- South Shields: Asda is west of the Metro station, open M-Sa 06:00-00:00, Su 10:00-16:00.
- Jarrow: Morrisons is in Viking Precinct, open M-Sa 07:00-22:00, Su 10:00-16:00.
- 1 Barbour Factory Store, Monks Way, Bede Trading Estate, Jarrow NE32 3HL (Metro: Bede), ☏ . M-Sa 09:30-17:30, Su 10:30-16:30. J Barbour and Sons were founded in 1894 in South Shields and still have their headquarters and manufacturing here, though stuff is also made elsewhere. They make mid- to upmarket outdoor wear, and their signature product is the waxed raincoat. It's waterproof, windproof, robust and stylish, with deep interior and exterior pockets, and chunky two-way zip; it's not thickly insulated so in cold weather you need a woolly pully or Barbour sleeveless quilted jacket beneath it. The products are good value for the years of life you should get from them: eventually the wax protection wears off but it can be replaced. They've kept the branding upmarket (avoiding Burberry's descent into hooli-wear and mockery) so you can wear it to the park and imagine you share the grouse-moor good looks of its catalogue models; why even your enuretic pooch will stand comparison with their smart gun-dogs. You can buy in many retail stores and online, but the factory outlet has knowledgeable helpful staff.
- South Shields eateries are in town centre around the Metro station and along Ocean Road towards the pier. They include Colman's (see below), The Wouldhave (see below), Mambo Wine & Dine, Tuscano's, Turkuisine, Orange Grass, Bun Bun, Clover and Wolf, Bell Passi, Radhuni, Italianish, Pacino's, Kuzey, Zeera and Sambuca.
- Colman's Seafood Temple, Sea Road, South Shields NE33 2LD, ☏ . M-Th 12:00-19:30, F Sa 12:00-20:30, Su 12:00-21:00. Grand seafood and views.
- The Wouldhave, 16 Mile End Road, South Shields NE33 1TA, ☏ . Su-Th 08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00. JD Wetherspoon's pub, reliable choice for food and drink. William Wouldhave was a boat-builder who helped design the self-righting lifeboat, after a capsizing of 1849 cost the lives of 20 local lifeboatmen.
- Jarrow has The Sultan on Western Rd; others are just takeaway.
- Vespa Italian Bar & Steakhouse is on Roman Rd, off Leam Lane A194 west of the junction with A19. It's open M-Sa 12:00-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00.
- South Shields pubs around the Metro station and along Ocean Rd are Ship and Royal, Ziggy's, Red Door, Life of Riley, The Wouldhave (see Eat), Hogarths, Kirkpatrick's, Arbeia Bar and The Marine.
- 1 The Grotto, Coast Road, Marsden NE34 7BS, ☏ . Daily 10:00-22:00. Pub with food in a cave right on the beach, blasted out of the cliffs by an 18th century smuggler. They also have rooms. Accessed by a spiral stair or achingly-slow lift down the cliff, so it's not suitable for mobility-impaired smugglers. B&B double £110.
- Jarrow has Crown & Anchor, Royal Oak, Ben Lomond, The Queens and Johnnies.
- 2 1 More than 2 Brew, Portberry St, South Shields NE33 1QX (Metro: Chichester), ☏ . Taproom Th 17:00-22:00, F 15:00-22:00, Sa 12:00-22:00, Su 16:00-22:00. Small brewery opened in 2019 with an eccentric range of beers: "You don't walk past a £10 monkey and not buy it", "People are only wolves until wolf shit needs doing", "After the third pint we ended up putting knickers on the dog" and more. No tours, they sometimes have entertainment in the taproom, and the shop keeps the same hours.
- The main cluster of accommodation is on South Shields Ocean Rd toward the seafront.
- 1 Sea Hotel (Best Western), Sea Road, South Shields NE33 2LD, ☏ . Simple seafront chain hotel, mixed reviews. B&B double £55.
- 2 Annie's Guest House, 106 Beach Road, South Shields NE33 2NE (Metro: South Shields), ☏ . Clean comfy welcoming guest house. B&B double £50.
- 3 Sir William Fox Hotel, 5 Westoe Village NE33 2NE, ☏ . Simple hotel, many fittings worn and tatty. No street parking. Sir William Fox (1812-1893) was born here and had four spells as prime minister of New Zealand. B&B double £60.
- 4 Athol House, 21 Westoe Road, South Shields NE33 4LS, ☏ . Basic but cheerful B&B, shared bathrooms. B&B double £50.
- 5 Premier Inn South Shields Port Of Tyne, 2 Hobson Way, Newcastle Road, Jarrow NE34 9PU, ☏ . Reliable budget chain. Free parking. B&B double £70.
- 6 Clarion Hotel (formerly Quality Hotel), Boldon Business Park, Witney Way, Boldon NE35 9PE (Jcn A19 / A184), ☏ . Decent chain hotel handy for motorists. B&B double £85.
- Travelodge Whitemare Pool is at the junction of A184 and Leam Lane.
As of July 2021, this area has 5G from EE and 4G from the other UK carriers.
Go next Edit
- Newcastle upon Tyne is the lively city just a 30 min Metro ride away.
- Sunderland to the south has a 1300-year history of glass-making.
- Wallsend is the beginning of Hadrian's Wall, but the best sections of wall are to the west of Hexham.