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South Tyneside

Overview - Geography, Political

South Tyneside is an administrative area of the metropolitan county of Tyne & Wear in England's north-east region. It is bordered by four other metropolitan boroughs - City of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead to the west, City of Sunderland in the south, and North Tyneside to the north. The border county of Northumberland lies further north. The borough once formed part of County Durham before Government re-organisation in 1974.

South Tyneside is relatively small in terms of geographical area (64.43 km²/ 24.98 miles²) and population (152 785, June 2003). The North Sea lies east and to the north the River Tyne. There is 23.64 km²/ 9.12 miles² of Green Belt at its southern boundary.

The main administrative centre and largest town is South Shields. Other riverside towns are Jarrow and Hebburn, while the villages of Cleadon, Whitburn and the Boldons border Wearside to the south at Sunderland.

South Tyneside is represented by two Members of Parliament with two constituencies at South Shields and Jarrow (which also serves Hebburn and the Urban Fringe villages).

The weather is variable and typical of a Maritime Climate.

The approximate location of South Tyneside is 0 degrees east/ west and 55 degrees north.


Celtic traditions, Roman settlers, Angles, Saxons and Jutes, Viking invasions, Irish immigrants, Arab seafarers and more recently the settling of people from the Indian sub-continent reflect the present-day culture of South Tyneside.

In South Shields (Roman 'Caer Urfa'), excavations and a reconstructed fort are found at Arbeia (AD 160). This fort served as a garrison and an outpost of the Roman Empire, and is part of Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site. The hospitality strip at Ocean Road is famed throughout the region for its Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Chinese cuisine. Mill Dam, with former Customs House (now a theatre, cinema and arts complex), cobbled lanes and Mission to Seafarers centre, stands tribute to the long and proud history of shipping in the town.

Bede's World in Jarrow (Anglo Saxon 'Gyrwe') is dedicated to the life of the Venerable Bede, the 'Father of English History'. The nominated World Heritage Site is straddled by two rivers - the Tyne and the Don. There is a medieval monastery (St. Paul's Church, AD 681), an Anglo-Saxon farm with rare breed animals and buildings constructed in original materials from that period, and the Georgian Jarrow Hall. The Crusade of 1936 was a key event in the town's history and the original banner carried by the marchers to London can be viewed at Jarrow Town Hall.


Shipbuilding and repairing, coal mining and exports, and the chemical industries demised from the latter half of the 20th Century, resulting in mass unemployment. In more recent years, however, this trend has reversed and South Tyneside attracts new industries, most notably in the service sector. There is still a considerable manufacturing base of ship-repair and offshore services, engineering, electronics, clothing, furniture, paper products, timber and small precision engineering.

At one time, Tyneside built 25% of the world's ships. South Tyneside College specialises in Marine training and attract students from around the world.

Tourism is also an important and growing industry.

Places of interest

South Shields town centre offers high street shopping with a regular market and museum & art gallery. Arbeia Roman Fort Museum at the Lawe Top and Souter Lighthouse on the coast near Whitburn (the first in the world to be generated by electricity) are other attractions. The seafront stretch offers the traditional British seaside experience - fairground, parks, boating lake and miniature steam railway, amusements and arcades, hotels, bed and breakfasts, caravan and camping sites, restaurants, amphitheatre, outdoor live entertainment, promenades, Groyne lighthouse and the mile-long South Pier.

Bede's World, the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel, the refurbished Viking Shopping Centre, and J. Barbour factory outlet at Jarrow are also of interest.

Westoe, Cleadon, East Boldon, Monkton and Whitburn are typical suburban villages offering traditional pubs, building styles and small shopping boutiques.

Hebburn riverside is surprisingly green and open with views to the busy shipyards across-river at Wallsend.

River and sea sports, Temple Park Leisure Centre, Gypsies Green and Monkton Stadia, Hebburn Swimming Pool, national and local cycle routes, open areas and parks are the main outdoor recreational areas. The Great North Run is the world's biggest half marathon taking place every September/ October, starting in Newcastle and finishing at the Leas in South Shields.

In summer there is a festival with opening street parade, street and stage entertainment and an open-top tour bus connecting various places of interest.


The physical environment varies greatly in a small area: from industrial areas like Port of Tyne to business parks at Monkton and Boldon; traditional 'back to back' terraces to suburban housing; the River Tyne to the harbour, river entrance and open sea at Littlehaven; Marsden Quarry to the Great North Forest...

EcoCentre at Hebburn is a building constructed from recycled materials, self-reliant in power generation by means of its own wind turbine and is efficient in waste management.


The A1 (M), A19 and other trunk roads link South Tyneside to the national road network. The Tyne and Wear Metro is a light rail system connecting the area with the rest of the Tyneside conurbation, Sunderland, and Newcastle's main line Central Station and International Airport. The Tyne Road and Pedestrian Tunnels traverse the river at Jarrow and Howdon. A passenger only cross-river ferry also serves the towns of North and South Shields. The Port of Tyne situated at Tyne Dock is a growing terminal handling large volumes of freight, including exports from the Nissan car plant at Washington.


'Geordie' is the local accent and dialect of people born in South Tyneside. It is regarded for its extensive dialect, sing-song accent and distinction. 'Sandancer' is a term often referred to as a native of South Shields, though 'Geordie' is more widely used and recognised.


Well known South Tynesiders include author Dame Catherine Cookson, former three times Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir William Fox, actress Dame Flora Robson, BBC war correspondent Kate Adie, Hollywood director Ridley Scott, entrepreneur J. Barbour and athlete Steve Cram. Author Lewis Carroll was inspired to write 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass' by local residents he met when staying in Whitburn. South Tynesiders are noted for their hospitality, community spirit and sense of humour.

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