History in the Least Likely Places

I recently went on a visit up north (Newcastle) and as part of that I visited North Shields. I always think of it as a small place but surprisingly it has a population of around 34,500. Where is everyone?

Originally known just as Shields, the Shields of the name derives from a word meaning shelter or hut, and refers to the fishermen’s huts that once stood there. Historically part of Tynemouth, North Shields is the site of a well-known fish quay.

Indeed there is a statue of a fisherman near the quay, and a plaque that goes with it.

Apart from being a former port, and even having a history of shipbuilding for a while, the area is now of more interest to visitors. Anyone wanting to learn more about the history of the town can read this very informative article.

A final aside. Ghosts have often featured on this blog so it seems wrong to leave North Shields without including a ghost story (or two).

A house on Stephenson Street was said to be haunted by a child’s cries and the sobs of a woman, and an infant’s body was later discovered concealed in the building (See Stephenson St, below).

© Google Maps

Another story tells of a man who visited North Shields in the late 1960s. One night he was walking down a street when he heard a child in distress. A boy ran past. This happened again, so he reported it to the police. The police asked him to walk the route again but to let them know in advance. They saw the boy and gave chase, but the boy vanished and the cries ceased.

This happened again, and weeks later, the police called the man and said they’d since learnt that a boy had been murdered on that road, in Victorian times.

Are the two cases related?

Finally, at Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, the ghost of a Victorian woman has been seen, chasing two laughing children. The hotel is of interest historically, having been a pub and a residential hotel since 1799.

In the past, meals for prisoners were prepared in the cellar kitchens and carried via an underground tunnel to the Tynemouth House of Correction next door. The hotel sports a blue plaque (indicating historical significance) – there are nine blue plaques in North Shields. Who knew? Here is another.

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