Bosses at South Shields Customs House theatre and arts venue bidding for permission to replace historic crest on the historic listed building

Proposals to remove and replace a “weathered” coat of arms at an iconic South Tyneside cultural venue have been submitted to council planners.

The Customs House, in South Shields, has applied to replace the circular South Shields Coat of Arms on the original front of the building, which is described as being “in bad condition” having “corroded beyond repair”.

The building’s Grade II-listed status means special permission is needed before any works can take place.

According to venue bosses, the “exposed position” of the building on the banks of the River Tyne combined with the sandstone material used for the coat of arms have meant its finer features have “weathered away”.

The Customs House has applied to replace the South Shields crest over its main entrance.

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Planning documents submitted to South Tyneside Council confirm repairs to the existing coat of arms had been ruled out due to the “level of corrosion” and that the feature would be carefully removed by a qualified stonemason.

If the application is approved, the replacement coat of arms would match the original as closely as possible.

Applicants have called the feature is an “important and integral part of the design and character of the building” and that “accelerated deterioration from weathering threatens the survival of this detail”.

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The current crest has seen better days.

The heritage statement adds: “Replacing the coat of arms now whilst a portion of the original design remains, provides the best opportunity to ensure that history of the Customs House is preserved for all generations.

“The work being carried out also provides an opportunity for The Customs House Trust (long term lease holders of the building) to remind the local community of the significance of the South Shields Coat of Arms and its importance to the history of the area”.

The Customs House was formerly a customs post built in the 1860s for commercial shipping, just before South Shields was declared an independent port and at a time when the River Tyne was a centre of trade.

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After the decline of the shipping industry, the building fell into disrepair and was derelict for decades before capital funding from Tyne and Wear Development Corporation funded its redevelopment into an arts and entertainment centre which opened in November 1994, with the addition of a purpose-built theatre and cinema.

For more information, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0557/22/LBC