Shields (Sheeldz), North, a seaport of Northumberland, on the Tyne's north bank, near its mouth, 8 miles ENE. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In the 13th c. the germ of the present town was a collection of fishermen's huts or 'sheles' (hence Shields). The prior of Tynemouth previous to 1279 built twenty-six houses and a quay here, but the burgesses of Newcastle frustrated his design to establish a town. For five hundred years North Shields, oppressed by Newcastle, remained a mere village, but during the 19th century its development has been rapid. The town is without any architectural character, the streets being monotonously plain, and, near the river, narrow and dingy. The principal public buildings and institutions are the town-hall (1844), the theatre-royal, the covered market, the free library and museum, the Tyne Sailors' Home (1856), and the Master Mariners' Asylum (1838). The Northumberland Park (with remains of St Leonard's Hospital) covers 17 acres. The mouth of the Tyne forms an important harbour; the depth of water on the bar at low-water (springtides) is 20 feet; at high-water, 37. Within the borough are two extensive docks - the Northumberland (1857) and the Albert-Edward (1884), the one having an area of 55 acres, the other of 24. Upwards of 2 1/2 million tons of coal and coke are shipped hence in a twelvemonth; the principal imports are corn, timber, and esparto grass. There is much building and repairing of steam and sailing vessels and manufactures of anchors, chain-cables, ropes, etc.; and fishing is carried on. At Clifford's Fort is a submarine mine station. In conjunction with Tynemouth (q.v.) and three small townships North Shields forms a municipal and parliamentary borough, named after Tynemouth, and sending one member to parliament. Pop. of this borough (1881) 44,118; (1901) 51,514. This town is the birthplace of the painters George Balmer and Birket Foster, also of William Wouldhave (see South Shields).
Shields, South, a seaport, municipal and parliamentary borough of Durham, popular also as a watering-place, stands on the south bank of the Tyne at its mouth, 9 miles ENE. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On the Lawe, an eminence overlooking the river, the Romans had an important military station, in Saxon times called Caer Urfa. Salt-pans were established here in 1489, and glass-works in 1619. The oldest, dingiest part of the town extends for about two miles along the river-bank. Ocean Road - a fine broad thoroughfare nearly a mile long - stretches from the market-place to the pier. The cliffs to the southward are hollowed into picturesque caves. The principal public buildings are the town-hall (1768); the public library, news-room, and museum (1859); the marine school (1869); the theatre-royal (1866); and the Ingham Infirmary (1873). South Shields is in the parish of Jarrow (q.v.). The North and South Marine Parks, 45 acres in extent, are divided by the pier parade. A portion of the site of the Roman station, containing the remains of the forum, treasury, western gateway, etc, has been enclosed and laid out as a recreation ground. The south pier - a gigantic breakwater 5218 feet in length - was constructed in 1854-92. The harbour is lined with ship and boat yards, iron, glass, alkali, and rope works, paint and varnish manufactories, etc. The Tyne Docks, covering an area of 50 acres, are the property of the North-Eastern Railway, and ship over five million tons of coal and coke. The large colliery in the town - the St Hilda - was opened in 1810; in an explosion here in 1839 fifty-nine persons were killed. The first lifeboat was built at South Shields, and used for the first time on January 30, 1790; a memorial to its inventors Wouldhave and Greathead has been erected on the pier parade. South Shields was incorporated in 1850. Since 1832 it has returned one member. Pop. (1851) 2S,974; (1881) 56,875; (1901)96,267.