Dozens of blue plaques go up to mark South Tyneside’s historically important people and places

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Tommy the Trumpeter, sea Road
South Tyneside memorial plaque. Tommy the Trumpeter, sea Road

A blue plaque scheme is set to be started in South Tyneside after the area was ranked as one of the worst in the country for remembering its history.

South Tyneside Council is planning to install at least one plaque a year celebrating the historical achievements of the area’s people and places.

South Tyneside memorial plaque.
Old Town Hall, Market Place

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Old Town Hall, Market Place

The move comes after the Royal Society of Arts ranked South Tyneside as one of the 10 worst local authority areas in the country for heritage.

Councillors will discuss the plan when they hold a full council meeting next Thursday.

In a report prepared for the meeting, corporate director for economic regeneration David Cramond said the scheme was suggested by the RSA as one way of improving the South Tyneside’s ranking on the Heritage Index.

There are currently 21 blue plaques in South Tyneside, which have been installed by various groups.

South Tyneside memorial plaque.
Old Town Hall, Market Place

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Old Town Hall, Market Place

Mr Cramond said they have now been listed on the Openplaque website, which should improve the council’s heritage ranking.

He also said full details of the area’s 25 annual heritage events have been sent to the RSA, which should also boost the score.

Mr Cramond said: “In order to achieve continuous improvement of the Heritage Index score, it is proposed to establish a commemorative blue plaques scheme, recognising significant people and places which reflect historical and heritage value to the borough.

“A number of plaques will be raised in 2017, officially opened by the Mayor. Following this, at least one blue plaque will be raised each year.”

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Gallipoli, Little Haven Promenade

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Gallipoli, Little Haven Promenade

He suggested groups who nominate people and places for plaques could be asked to contribute up to 25 percent of the cost with the rest funded by the council.

His report does not say how much plaques cost but English Heritage, who run the original blue plaque scheme in London, has previously said they cost about £1,000.

For a person to qualify for a plaque they must have made a “significant contribution to the cultural, industrial or civic legacy of South Tyneside or Britain” and have a strong link with the area such as being “born, lived or worked or made their discovery or accomplishment in South Tyneside”.

There must also be an original building where the plaque could be installed.

South Tyneside memorial plaque.
Former Custom House, Mill Dam

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Former Custom House, Mill Dam

For a place to qualify it must be “prominent in the history and development of South Tyneside and should demonstrate “evidential, historical, aesthetic and communal” value.

The meeting starts at 6pm at Jarrow Town Hall.

The plaques of South Tyneside


•Cleadon Grotto, in Coulthard Park, an 18th century garden ornament overlooking a formal pond originally in the grounds of Cleadon House.

•Oakleigh Gardens School, Sunniside Lane, these homes were built to house, educate and provide vocational training for boys and girls who were orphaned or needing care. The boys’ homes were Ivy, Sycamore, Snowdrop, Hawthorn, Daisy and Laburnum. The girls lived in Pansy, Violet, Rose, Primrose, Maple and Oak. Woodbine Cottage, now part of Oakleigh Gardens School, is the last of the original Homes’ Cottage.

South Tyneside memorial plaque.
Volunteer Life Brigade House

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Volunteer Life Brigade House


•Robert Saint (1905-1950), Victoria Road East, in this house lived Robert Saint. Miner and bandsman, who in 1936 wrote the musical score Gresford – The Miners Hymn to commemorate the 266 men and boys who lost their lives in the mining disaster of 22nd September 1934 in Gresford, Wales.

•Arthur Holmes (1890 - 1965), Glen Street, in this house lived Arthur Holmes. Internationally renowned geologist, lecturer at Imperial College, London, became Professor of Geology at Durham University in 1925 and at the University of Edinburgh in 1943.


•Councillor Tom Hanson (1943-2012), on Howard Street, champion of the New Tyne Crossing Project from first plans in 1998 to opening in 2012.

•John S Clarke (1885-1959), lion-tamer, seaman, socialist pioneer, antiquary and Labour MP for Glasgow was born here.

•Cyclist and Pedestrian Tunnel, the country’s first purpose built cyclist and pedestrian tunnel. It was 275m (900ft) long with 61m (200ft) single flight escalators - the longest in the world when built.


•Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Westoe Village, author of the Chalet School series. Born in South Shields, April 6, 1894 and educated in this house 1906 to 1912 as St Nicholas School.

•Catherine Cookson, Mill Dam, author based her book Colour Blind near the site.

•The Marine School of South Shields, Ocean Road, founded here in 1861 by the Benefactor Dr Thomas Winterbottom.

•Gallipoli, Little Haven Promenade, in proud memory of the men from Tyneside who fought and died in the Gallipoli campaign. Royal Navy. Royal Naval Division. 10th, 11th, and 29th Infantry Divisions. Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Unveiled by HE The Hon Alexander Downer AC, High Commissioner for Australia to the United Kingdom, May 19, 2015.

•Tommy the Trumpeter, Sea Road, celebrating 25 summers of Tommy the Trumpeter aka Ray Spencer MBE.

•Volunteer Life Brigade House, South Pier, the South Shields Brigade was formed in January 1866 to rescue mariners ship-wrecked on nearby shores. This Watch House, built 1867 and extended 1875, was restored by the Brigade and Tyne and Wear County Council in 1985.

•Pilot House, Greens Place, the Old Pilots House modernised in 1930 is still the office of the Tyne Pilots. Opposite the house is The Beacon, which was erected in the late 18th century for the guidance of the local pilots.

•Lawe Beacons, Lawe Road, erected as navigational aids in 1832 by John Turnbull, at a cost of £60, this beacon and its companion replaced 18th century structures. They complement the High and Low Lights at North Shields.

•Tyne Port Health Authority, Mill Dam, this authority was established in January, 1879 to combat the danger of imported diseases following a tremendous growth of foreign-going shipping in the Tyne. It occupied this building from 1886, when it was built, until 1985.

•Old Town Hall, Market Place, the only Market Place building to survive the 1941 blitz, it was erected in 1768 by the Dean and Chapter of Durham, and served as Town Hall until the New Town Hall was opened in 1910. Restored in 1977.

•Former Pilot Offices, Green’s Place, for 320 years from 1536, Trinity House, Newcastle controlled the Tyne pilotage. Thereafter, pilots were directed by a new authority on which they were represented. This house was the Pilot Offices from 1886 to 1980.

•Former Customs House, Mill Dam, built in 1863-64 just before South Shields was declared a separate Customs port in 1865; designed by T.M. Clemence, architect and Borough Surveyor. The rear office extension was added in 1878, J.H. Morton, architect.

•Catherine Cookson, author, was born in a two-roomed house at 5 Leam Lane near this site on June 20, 1906.


•Thomas Elliot Harrison, Front Street, engineer-in-chief to the North Eastern Railway 1854-1888, and president of the Institution of Civil Engineers 1873-1874 lived here.

South Tyneside memorial plaque.
Volunteer Life Brigade House

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Volunteer Life Brigade House