Following the Tyne to Comical Corner

The old Ha'penny Dodger landing at Comical Corner.
The old Ha'penny Dodger landing at Comical Corner.

I mentioned the other week that if you want to chart the history of a place like Shields, look at the street names.

In this respect it can sometimes feel that, with the demise of so much of its shipbuilding and ship repair, the town’s riverside has lost touch with its origins.

Yet in among old papers the other day, I came across the sale of a ‘messuage’ (a house with other buildings/land) owned by a Mrs Ann Stephenson at Comical Corner, and, nearby, the Alum House Quay, also for sale, suitable for building on.

The date? It was 1795. Yet both names survive today, relics of the era of sailing ships in the former and, in the latter, of the import of alum shale for the chemical industry.

So I was interested to see that writer Michael Chaplin and artist Mikhail Karikis will be in conversation during a riverside walk in this very area this Saturday, July 4.

They will be looking at the legacy and landscape of the shipping and shipbuilding industry in the town, and of an area which has creatively inspired the writer and artist in different ways.

It will set off from in front of the Customs House at the Mill Dam at 2.30pm and will end with refreshments at the workshops of the North East Maritime Trust in Wapping Street, where the historic Tyne lifeboat Henry Frederick Swan is currently undergoing restoration.

Tickets are £4 but must be booked in advance. Visit or telephone 0191 2275500.