Shell’s Jarrow oil terminal closes after more than 50 years

Shell UK Limited's Jarrow oil terminal.
Shell UK Limited's Jarrow oil terminal.

One of South Tyneside’s most famous industrial landmarks will soon be no more.

The Shell UK oil terminal in Priory Road, Jarrow – with its distinctive oil storage tanks dominating the skyline – has closed after more than 50 years of operation.

The Shell UK terminal is now being decommissioned after attempts to find a buyer failed.

The Shell UK terminal is now being decommissioned after attempts to find a buyer failed.

The decision was taken after attempts to sell the operation as a going concern failed.

The oil storage facility is now being decommissioned with discussions ongoing with several parties over the future of the land.

Meanwhile, oil trains which travelled to the terminal via a single track Network Rail freight line are no longer doing so.

The terminal’s demise does not have huge job implications – less than a handful of people are employed there.

Discussions are now ongoing with several parties over the future use of the land at the oil terminal.

Discussions are now ongoing with several parties over the future use of the land at the oil terminal.

But it is yet another blow to Jarrow’s industrial heritage, following recent announcements that the Essentra filter plant, Rohm and Haas chemical works and engineering company Mullins (Earby) were all poised for closure.

The terminal itself dates from the early 1950s, according to a company spokesman.

But the huge oil storage tanks there have always been at odds with the immediate surroundings, located as they are beside historic and picturesque St Paul’s Church, dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, and the adjacent Bede’s World museum complex.

The Shell spokesman said, “Shell conducted a four -month marketing process for parties to express an interest in buying Jarrow terminal as a going concern in 2014.

Kerry Porter, who lives nearby, outside the Shell UK oil terminal.

Kerry Porter, who lives nearby, outside the Shell UK oil terminal.

“Unfortunately no credible bids for the terminal were forthcoming, and Shell has ceased operations at the terminal, we continue to work with local stakeholders to identify an alternative use for the site.

“Four employees are potentially impacted by the closure of the site and they are being offered support to find alternative roles within Shell or externally.

“The decision to sell Jarrow terminal is part of Shell’s strategy to concentrate its global Downstream footprint and business where it can be most competitive.”

After operations ceased at the site in April, work was launched to decommission it, including the removal of hydrocarbons.

The Shell spokesman added: “We are in discussions with several parties about potential future uses of the site.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council, which owns the land, said: “We are currently in discussions with the company about the decommissioning of the terminal and continue to look at how the site can be best used in the future to benefit the borough.”

There were mixed feelings from residents living close to the terminal – outside of which fuel protesters would often picket earlier in the decade.

Kerry Porter, 29, who has lived in Priory Road for 10 years, said: “It is good in that I won’t have the same safety fears and be worried every time the fire alarms go off.

“But in another way it will be sad to see it go, as it is part of the town’s industrial heritage.

“We’ll be losing a bit of the old Jarrow. Having said that, it isn’t the most pleasant view to look out across at.”

Another resident, who has lived in nearby Saxon Way for 30 years, was less nostalgic.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “I don’t think they should ever have built these houses when they knocked down the old Queen’s Road.

“I won’t miss the noise of the tanker lorries at the gates at night.

“Living around here has always led to fears of a chemical spillage from Rohm and Haas and of a fire at the oil terminal. I won’t miss either of them.”