Where exactly is South Shields? It isn't a simple question

It’s on the coast, immediately south of the River Tyne, with a beautiful beach.

Sunday, 20th October 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 21st October 2019, 3:57 pm

That’s where it’s located. But where is it? The answer is not straightforward. Indeed, neither is the question.

For a start, there’s the issue of which county it’s in. The confusion is understandable. Some older people maintain the town is in County Durham and care not a jot for anything suggesting otherwise.

Younger people may be unaware that South Tyneside was ever even part of County Durham. After all, it’s 45 years since it was legally so.

The beautiful town hall in South Shields. But where exactly is that?

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In 1974 the Local Government Act came into force, creating the soulless sounding “metropolitan counties” and pop went over a thousand years of history.

This meant that South Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead were booted out of County Durham and into something called Tyne and Wear, along with North Tyneside and Newcastle.

Postcodes and mailing lists have nothing to do with county status. Furthermore, Tyne and Wear ceased to exist in any meaningful sense in 1986, which means that South Shields technically isn’t in a county at all. It’s a metropolitan borough council; an unromantic moniker if ever there was.

Then there’s the thorny topic of identity. When Joe McElderry took X-Factor by storm in 2009, he was referred to nationally as “Geordie Joe”. Was that correct? Does anyone mind?

While taking X-Factor by storm, Mr McElderry was known nationally as "Geordie Joe". Was that correct?

Do the good people of South Shields prefer to be referred to Geordies? Or would they prefer to be known by the even more localised epithet of Sanddancer, to give an even more specific identity?

Does the football team they support have any bearing on how they define themselves?

Few of the Sunderland supporters in the borough can refer to themselves as Mackems. Does this automatically make them Geordies?

There is no firm definition of a Geordie and, despite what some of those who live closer to the centre of Newcastle might say, no one has the right to arbitrate on the matter. On holiday abroad it might be easier for Sanddancers to tell people they are from Newcastle. But it isn’t true.

We have “answered” the question with more questions. Apologies. But if anyone can shed informed light on the matter, then we would greatly appreciate it.