AS the birthplace and early residence of Catherine Cookson, the South Shields of the early 20th Century will forever endure, if only through her novels.
But, with the emphasis at present on regeneration, the town is looking forward as much as it is looking back.
Once famous for its shipyards, coal mining and glass-making, NE33 is in the process of change and a number of areas have been, or are in the process of being, revitalised.
One of these, former colliery site Westoe Crown Village, has been transformed by an award-winning housing development.
And last month a blueprint was drawn up to reinvent a rundown stretch of riverbank spanning Harton Staithes, Rekendyke and parts of Laygate.
Change could come in the form of five new neighbourhoods, consisting of more than 1,300 homes.
The area covering the former Circatex site and the southern end of Frederick Street features in a zero carbon development.
A new waterfront park would provide riverside dining opportunities and there is scope for ice cream kiosks, houseboat building, artist studios and marine technology.
A community terrace linking Rekendyke and South Shields centre will be constructed entirely from recycled materials. Coun Eddie McAtominey, the council’s leading member for jobs, enterprise and regeneration, said: “It shows we have the vision and enthusiasm to bring about something stunning.
“It will be something that will have a tremendous economic impact on the area for generations to come.’’
“This is a scheme of massive importance to the regeneration of South Shields and the borough as a whole.”
There are six miles of coastline and
lying just a short drive beyond the confines of NE33 is Marsden Bay, home to the famous Marsden Rock.
Renowned for its sea bird colonies, it is now 11 years since the rock’s celebrated arch collapsed.
It remains an attractive proposition for tourists however, boasting the Marsden Grotto pub and restaurant which is set into the cliff face.
Elsewhere, for a spectacular view, one of the best spots is Cleadon Hills, where, on a clear day, it is possible to see along the coast as far as Blyth.
The sea front is also home to one of a declining number of pleasure beaches on Britain’s coastline.
But, impressive as they are, the beaches and bays remain secondary selling points in the shadow of the town’s most famous daughter.
In fact, so significant is Catherine Cookson’s impact on tourism in
South Shields, that her name has been
used as a powerful marketing
tool. Bus-loads of tourists descend
on Catherine Cookson Country every week throughout the summer months for a glimpse of the place that shaped the young writer.
Those with an appetite for culture
can sample the South Shields Museum
and Art Gallery which, among other
things, explores a century of progress on South Tyneside.
Also at the centre of a burgeoning
arts scene is the Customs House,
dealing in theatre, film and art exhibitions.
And the scale of the shift in the town’s make-up is nowhere more eloquently expressed than here.
On the very riverside site where the industries of old thrived, now lies a building that the people of Cookson’s South Shields never could have envisaged.
Estate agent Linda Richards discusses the thriving community of South Shields and explains why people queuing up to be involved.
AN exciting mixture of old and new, the increasingly popular South Shields area of Tyneside is the ideal solution for home buyers looking for something special.
People from all over the North-East are being enticed by six miles of coastline and river frontage, close proximity to thriving Newcastle, and prices perfectly suited for first-time buyers and growing families.
There is a wide range of housing available from new developments to gorgeous houses built at the turn of the last century.
For buyers looking to place a foot on the housing ladder, a ground floor flat starts at £65,000. There are also a number of popular solutions for buy-to-let investors who see the great potential of South Shields.
For commuters, the Metro, pedestrian ferry and excellent bus routes from the town centre offer convenience for busy lifestyles.
Newcastle city centre can be reached in around 20 minutes. Similarly, while boasting a vibrant nightlife, South Shields is renowned by for its relaxed and calming influence on those who enjoy living in a coastal community.
Throughout the year, a bountiful selection of restaurants and bars provide entertainment, and there are pools, cinemas and a water park within easy reach.
One of the greatest attractions is certainly the famous six-week summer festival offering free entertainment and concerts which attract a host of famous starts.
Last year saw free pop, jazz, brass and classical music in the streets which were a massive hit for everyone involved. Children also had a blast with Tommy's parties being the centre of the entertainment. This year promises to be even better!
Families are well catered for with a good group of schools nearby. Boldon school, one of a number of secondary schools, recently moved into state-of-the-art facilities including four-lane swimming pool and 220-seat theatre.
Linda Richards is branch manager of Pattinson's South Shields branch which can be found at 7 Charlotte Terrace, tel: 0845 146 1604.
This is truly a place of opportunity
LIVING in NE33 means something quite different now, says Ray Spencer.
Ray, 50, executive director of the Customs House, lives in the West Park area of South Shields with his partner and four young children.
Born and raised on Biddick Hall estate and educated at the town’s Chuter Ede secondary school, Ray has witnessed a transformation.
He said: “There was a time when your destiny was determined by your postcode. That has changed completely.
“When I was growing up, everyone who lived on our street worked within those paternal industries but people can have some control over their career path now.
“I work in a terrific part of South Shields at the Customs House. There is a huge amount of history and my office overlooks the river where my dad worked as a caulker burner. We are at the forefront of regeneration and there’s a lot of excitement about the riverside project.”
Ray is also known in some circles as Tommy the Trumpeter, entertaining kids who he thinks are very lucky to be living in this time of change.
He pointed to the quality of the leisure facilities, amount of free entertainment and the high-performing hospitals as good reasons to bring up a family in the area.
Referring to his children who are two, four, five and 13, he said: “They have come through Ashley Primary School and have had a terrific start to their education. I hope South Shields will become a place where people want to stay and work. A lot of my contemporaries moved away but things are changing.
“This really is a great place to work and live.”
On the market in NE33
A GRAND period residence in a much sought-after area is certain to attract great interest.
This is a two bedroom first floor apartment.
Living accommodation includes a lounge with period style fire place, fitted kitchen with granite worktop and American style fridge freezer. There is a master bedroom – with fitted wardrobe and en suite – a period style bathroom and laundry and a garage and communal gardens to rear.
4 South Garth East, South Shields, is for sale through Chase Holmes priced at offers in the region of £324,950, tel: (0191)
A TWO-BEDROOM apartment within a stunning listed building is for sale in Westoe, South Shields.
Grade II listed Ingham Grange was once part of the old Ingham Infirmary, which was converted around 15 years ago. The first floor apartment is accessed via a security entry system within the communal hallway and are stairs to the first floor.
From the hall doors lead to the lounge, bedroom two and bathroom. The refitted kitchen and bedroom one are via the lounge. There are communal gardens and allocated parking.
The apartment is for sale through Pattinsons at £144,940, tel: (0845) 146-1604.
A FAMILY home with superb sea views is on the market in NE33.
This property is on one of the most popular roads in South Shields.
Accommodation includes a lounge, dining room, fitted kitchen and utility room.
There are four bedrooms – with ensuite to the master bedroom – a study and bathroom. The rear yard has a with roller door for car access and is fully alarmed.
26 Lawe Road, South Shields, is for sale through Chase Holmes priced at offers in the region of £299,950, tel: (0191) 424-5555
THIS three-bedroom ground floor apartment is located within a modern block called South Haven in Lawe Road, South Shields.
The property has a communal entrance, entrance hall with two storage cupboards, spacious lounge/dining room, kitchen with all built-in appliances, three bedrooms, en suite shower room and bathroom with step-in shower cubicle. Most rooms feature laminate flooring.
There is also additional storage to the basement and secure parking.
Flat 1 is for sale through Bairstow Eves at £175,000, tel: (0191) 455-2475.
Out and about in NE33
Transport: The A19 provides quick access to Sunderland and roads to Newcastle. There are frequent buses into both cities as well as the Shields ferry. The Metro runs from the town centre directly to Newcastle.
Schools: A vast selection including Mortimer Comprehensive, Hadrian Primary, Laygate Primary, Marine Park Primary, St Peter’s and St Paul's Infants, St Bede’s RC Primary, St Mary’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary, Stanhope Primary, and Westoe Crown Primary.
Shops: The town centre combines traditional markets with high street names. One of the oldest open-air markets in the North-East is in the square.
Restaurants: Ocean Road is famous for its curry houses. The Tavistock recently opened on the sea front.
Facilities: The Customs House theatre and cinema, the Westovian Theatre for amateur dramatic production and Temple Park leisure centre provides a pool and sports pitches.
Pubs: Traditional pubs are complemented by popular watering holes.
Sites: Littlehaven and Sandhaven beaches are extremely clean and family friendly. Several sculptures line the coast including Juan Munoz’s Conversation Piece which consists of 22 bronze figures at South Shields harbour. A short drive takes you to Marsden Bay. South Marine Park has miniature train rides and a lake.