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North Shields Heritage Action Zone

Arial photo of Howard Street and Northumberland Square

The North Shields High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project has delivered a four-year programme of physical improvements, community and cultural activities focussing on Howard Street and Northumberland Square. This is an area with a rich history that contains some of North Shields’ most elegant buildings and public spaces.

Whilst the builders and gardeners worked on the physical changes to the area, Remembering The Past’s team of volunteers collected stories from North Shields residents past and present about what it means to local people.

In 1796 Frederick Howard, the 5th Earl of Carlisle, sold some of his plots of land in North Shields to John Wright who had plans for an ambitious townscape in a ‘new town’.  This included a grand processional way to be named Howard Street after the Earl’s family name, terminating in an elegant Georgian square to be named Northumberland Square.


Use the North Shields ‘new town’ link below to learn more about the development of this area.

Visit our North Shields 'new town' page here
Map of proposed Howard Street and Northumberland Square

John Wood’s plan of North Shields 1826

While the work on the ground was taking place, Remembering the Past’s photographer, Ernest Storey, has been a regular visitor to Northumberland Square and Howard Street, using his camera to record the changes that have taken place.  You can browse a selection of his photographs by following the link below.

Other members of our team were also busy collecting memories of the area covered by the Heritage Action Zone.  These memories tell the story of what it has been like living, working or visiting the area over the years,

You can browse these memories below. If you have a memory of Howard Street or Northumberland Square that you would like to share, then please get in touch with us via our Contact Us page.

Mr Howard Street

David Hodgson has spent his whole working life (56 years at the time of recording) at the same firm of Accountants in Howard Street and has memories of the street stretching back to the 1960s.  Remembering the Past teamed up with North Tyneside Voda and Eye of the Tyne Photography to record this video of his personal story and his memories of commercial life in the street.

Our former manager, Kath Smith, was also able to record a longer interview with David where he shared those memories and you can listen to or read this story by following the link below.

Photo of Trefoil House opening ceremony

Trefoil House Opening Ceremony

Hilary, Jean and Viki

Trefoil House and Guiding

Hilary Jean and Viki told us about Trefoil House in Howard Street which has been the headquarters for North Tyneside Girl Guiding since the 1970s.  The full interview is approximately 26 minutes long so we have split it into two parts for those who prefer a shorter read, choose your option below:

Trefoil House and Guiding (26 min) - the full memory

Trefoil House (17 min) - the story of North Tyneside Guiding HQ

Girl Guiding Over the Years (10 min) - the story of Girl Guiding over the past 50 years

photo of Kath Smith in Northumberland Square

Kath Smith
Photo © Eye of the Tyne Photography


Kath Smith

Working in Howard Street and Northumberland Square

Kath, our former manager, told us about using Estate Agents in Howard Street in the 1980s to find a home before coming to work at an Insurance Broker in the street.  She describes working life at the office and her subsequent short move to the Library in Northumberland Square as manager of Remembering the Past.  Again, the full memory is over 20 minutes long so we have also split it into two to give the option of shorter reads.  Choose below:

Working in Howard St. and Northumberland Sq. (22 min) - the full memory

Working in Howard Street (12 min) - memories of house hunting and working life

Working in Northumberland Square (9 min) - memories of working life in the library

Photo of North Shields Library

North Shields library taken from Northumberland Square

Andrea Stephenson

 The Library and Northumberland Square Memories

I do remember working in the back office in this building.  In those days there wasn’t computer systems, they had a system where they had little brown paper pockets where you used to put the book slip into, so you knew people had borrowed it. I guess that set the course for my career in a way because I’ve ended up back here.

Good Friday Marching

The Good Friday Procession of Witness was a huge event that took place in North Shields for many years.  This video is a rare record of the march from the 1960s. We are indebted to the family of Andrew Dunn for allowing us to use this video and to hold it in our archive as a valuable record of this major event.

The march ended at Northumberland Square for a short service and the variety of organisations which took part in the event is shown here from Sunday Schools to the Salvation Army and from Girl Guides to the Boys Brigade. It shows how it was enjoyed by everyone taking part and how it was well supported by the residents who turned out in large numbers to watch it go by.

Photo of Howard Street from 1970s

 Working and shopping in post-war North Shields

I worked for Tynemouth Borough Council and later North Tyneside Council in their offices at the bottom of Howard Street.

Town Hall and Co-op show-room, corner of Howard St. and Saville St.

Town Hall Howard Street

 East End Carnival

When everything was over we went to the Town Hall to count the donations.  Then it was locked in a cell in the police station (on the corner of Howard Street) until it was banked.

Photo of Howard hall cinema

Howard Hall Cinema

 North Shields 81 years ago

When I was five my parents took me to see Charlie Chaplin at the cinema in Howard Street, but my Mother had to leave with me because I kept shouting orders to Charlie.

Photo of North side of Northumberland Square 1946

Northumberland Square North side 1946

 Working with Horses

My job involved taking the horses from the stables in Hylton Street to Hoods blacksmiths in back Northumberland Square.

Old photo of Northumberland Square

Image ©Xooo Photography – Karl Pijnen shared under CC BY

 Doctors of North Shields

Our doctor was called Dr Patterson, he had a surgery in Northumberland Square, North Shields.  There were hard plastic chairs to sit on.  Not very pleasant when you were not feeling very well and it was always packed with patients before the days of appointments.  There was a Heath Robinson affair rigged up for summoning us up to the next floor, where a light flashed for each doctor when his surgery was empty.

Photo of V.E. Street Celebration

V.E. celebration street party

 V.E. and V.J. Celebrations

On the actual V.J. day, my sister was staying with our aunt and uncle who lived in Preston village.  My uncle woke her up about 10.30 p.m. saying everyone was going to Northumberland Square for midnight.

Early photo of Northumberland Square

Early photo of Northumberland Square

Growing up in North Shields in the 1920s and 30s

I remember going down to Northumberland Square to listen to the loudspeakers as they broadcast the funeral service for King George V.

Photo of Northumberland Square 1950s

Northumberland Square 1950s

Living and Working in North Shields

I can remember working late on a New Years Eve and running to Northumberland Square to be there when they fired the gun to welcome the New Year in.

Picture of Howard Hall Cinema

Howard Hall Picture House

Going to the Pictures

There were six cinemas: The Rex, The Princes, The Comedy, The Boro, The Howard Hall and The Albion.  Our favourites were The Boro and The Howard Hall, and we could not wait for Saturday afternoons when the matinees were shown.

Picture of Howard Hall Cinema

Howard Hall Picture House

Cinema in North Shields

Once, the Howard Hall picture house showed a picture called “Freckle Face” and any child who had freckles could get in free.