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A fishy visit to North Shields

Nothing beats the smells and sounds of the seaside and historic North Shields has it in bucket loads. With its roots going back to at least 1225 when the Prior of Tynemouth, Germanus, decided to create a fishing port to provide fish for the nearby Priory. Despite being forbidden by the King in 1290 to export or load ships after petitioning from the powerful Hostmen of Newcastle, North Shields developed into a busy port with lighthouses being built (High and Low) to ensure boats didn't become grounded on the dangerous Black Midden rocks. The first of these were built in1655 and were replaced by the new High and Low lights in 1810. Today, three of these are private residencies but the fourth, the Old Low Light is a heritage centre (below) with café, shop, museum and event space.

Old Low Lights, with Old High Light behind.

Looking out to Tynemouth (below), where thousands of ships of sailed in the days of shipbuilding, this is where their world began. Notice the dangerous black rocks in the water -the Black Midden, Admiral Collingwood's statue (of Battle of Trafalgar fame) and to the left, Sir James Knott Memorial Flats, built in 1935 and opened in 1939 and populated in the main by families with a seagoing connection in North Shields.

Ray Lonsdale's Fiddlers Green is an ode to the fisherman of old and is a pertinent reminder of what North Shields used to be and to the fishermen who were lost at sea.

"To the fishermen lost in the cold North Sea

and the ones who will be so

I'll be seeing you all on Fiddler's Green,

be steady as you go

For Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell,

though no one knows where the fishermen go if they don't go to hell

and no Arctic wind will blow

Thanks to friend and and fellow Blue Badge Guide Frances Smiles for showing me the delights of North Shields. I travelled by train and Brompton bike, enabling me to see the sites, get a 10 mile flat bike ride to Newcastle Central Station along Hadrian's Way to take the train back to Durham.

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