The port at South Shields was established by the Romans as a kind of preliminary before they moved on to found Newcastle. Finds from the Roman period are displayed in the museum on the site of Arbeia, the excavated Roman fort. Although less important than Newcastle, industry did not pass South Shields by.
Tynemouth is a seaside resort. It lies on the north side of the Tyne Estuary, a home of shipbuilding and other heavy coal and steel-based industries. For years north-easterners have holidayed and day-tripped here, attracted by some of the finest but least known beaches in England, such as Long Sands and Prior’s Haven. The sheer cliffs and high river banks offer fine views of the River Tyne and the North Pier offers a half-mile long trip out to sea without getting into a boat. The ruins of the moated castle-towers, gatehouse and keep, dating mainly from the 11th and 14th centuries, stand on the cliffs overlooking the pier. Alongside are the remnants of the nave and chancel of the former priory, itself built to replace the original Anglo Saxon foundation destroyed by the Danes. The main street contains some fine 18th-century houses, and the town also boasts an imposing monument to Admiral Lord Collingwood, who led the British Fleet at Trafalgar.
This River Tyne town, standing at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall, is traditionally involved in engineering and shipbuilding: Mauretania, the Cunard liner that held the Atlantic crossing – The Blue Riband for 22 years, was launched here in 1907.
A New Town, intended eventually to have a population of 80,000, is developing in the area around Washington. In the original village is Washington Old Hall, the 12th century home of the family known as the Wessingtons. Over the years their name was corrupted to Washington.
Three miles to the south east rises the Penshaw monument built in 1844 to commemorate John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham. It is a roofless Victorian Greek Temple 70 feet in height and 100 feet long. On the north bank of the Wear the Wildfowl Trust maintains a 103-acre park (OACT) where a comprehensive collection of waterfowl can be seen against an attractive landscape