Could North and South Shields re-establish old links?

TWIN TOWN ... looking across the Tyne harbour from North Shields.
TWIN TOWN ... looking across the Tyne harbour from North Shields.

THE two riverside towns at the mouth of the Tyne were mirror images of each other once upon a time, with a shared history and traditions.

North and South Shields have grown apart over the years, but could there be mutual benefit in re-establishing those old links?

The film also looks at the possibilities of closer co-operation between North and South Shields, similar to what has happened with Newcastle-Gateshead.

Gary Wilkinson, film-maker

It’s a theme explored in the film Shiels, the latest project from South Shields film-maker Gary Wilkinson which, it’s been announced, will receive its premier next month.

The 24-minute documentary looks at the physical similarities shared by the two towns – linked then, as now, by a centuries-old ferry service.

It also features interviews with, among others, Customs House Director Ray Spencer, the manager of North Shields fish quay, Nik Hanlon, and a North sea fisherman, Henry Howard.

Says Gary: “The film also looks at the possibilities of closer co-operation between North and South Shields, similar to what has happened with Newcastle-Gateshead.

“There is an interview, for instance, with conservation architect Cyril Winskill, who looks at the possibility of a bridge and also river taxis to join the two harbour towns.”

The mayors of North and South Shields will launch the film on May 14 at the Customs House.

It will be part of a programme also featuring Gary’s film South Tyneside At War, starting at 1.20pm.

Tickets are £5 and £7.50, with a cup of tea and a scone. The box office number is 0191 4541234.

l Next month is Local History Month and there will also be screenings of other films by Gary with writer Tom Kelly, including, on May 7, Jarrow Voices, which features the Jarrow March and the gibbeting of miner William Jobling, and Little Ireland, on the influx of Irish settlers into Jarrow in the 19th century.

On May 21, you can also see On The Front Line again, about the impact of the 1984-1985 miners’ strike on the area, and Tyne Dock Borders, which looks at the old west end of the town and some of the figures associated with it, such as writers Catherine Cookson and James Mitchell, author of When The Boat Comes In.