Old stories sought for part of North Shields town centre

North Shields residents past and present are being asked to help uncover the history of two parts of the town.

By David Sedgwick
Friday, 8th October 2021, 8:00 am
Howard Street taken from Northumberland Square approx 1910s.
Howard Street taken from Northumberland Square approx 1910s.

As part of a project to revitalise the town’s historic centre, volunteers from North Tyneside-based Remembering the Past want to hear from people who worked on Howard Street – which was once the centre of the town’s commercial life – in the 1940s, 50s or 60s.

Dr Kath Smith, Lead Volunteer and Trustee at Remembering the Past, said: “The post-war period was a time when North Shields was really busy, with a thriving fishing industry and shipbuilding presence which supported a huge range of local businesses and commercial services located in and around Howard Street.

“We know that lots of people will have memories of working in the town at this time so, whether you went into a clerical role after learning shorthand and typing at Lambert’s Commercial School on Saville Street, or if you worked in one of the council offices that were in Howard Street and the Square, we’d love to hear from you.”

In the 60s and 70s this side of Northumberland Square were council offices, now they are back to houses.

Stories of events that took place in Northumberland Square are also sought.

Kath added: “Local people will remember how public events were marked in Howard Street and Northumberland Square.

"For example, we know that the Square would be packed on Good Friday as the Procession of Witness gathered there to be addressed by local dignitaries.

"And we know that a canon would sound the beginning of a new year and that you could catch a bus to anywhere from the Square.

“What local people haven’t had the chance to do is celebrate all of these memories and see them added to the social and cultural history of the town, and now we’re appealing for people’s help to make this happen.”

The memories are being collected as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone project which will revitalise the town’s historic centre, with a particular focus on Howard Street and Northumberland Square, which contain some of North Shields’ most elegant buildings and public spaces.

People’s stories will be captured through interviews and stored as part of Remembering the Past’s digital archive of life in North Tyneside.

They will also inform art and cultural events celebrating North Shields’ history, including a community-led performance.

Remembering the Past is a volunteer-led organisation in North Shields which collects people’s memories and stories about every aspect of life in North Tyneside.

The team was recently awarded the prestigious Queens Award for Volunteers, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

North Tyneside Council has been awarded £900,000 by Historic England through the High Street Heritage Action Zone project.

The North Shields High Street Heritage Action Zone will deliver a four-year programme of physical improvements, community and cultural activities.

The funding will form part of a £1.9million project, which includes a council contribution of nearly £1million, to revitalise the Northumberland Square Conservation Area, which includes Howard Street and Northumberland Square, through a series of projects.

If you have any stories, photographs, or memories to share, get in touch with Remembering the Past at www.rememberingthepast.co.uk, by phone on 0191 258 4623, or by email on [email protected]