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"The said towne of North Sheales bene little howses builded under the watter banke, and have nether groundes belonging unto them nor yet anye rowme on the backsids .... and on the fore partes litle byes and shores .... If it be ust for suche poore fishemen, the nomber whereof is nowe much decayed and like rather to minishe then increase, ther will not howse ther be nike biled (built nearby)." Commission of Enquiry 1564 (Extract from Tynemouth 1849 - 1949)

By 1528, North Shields was sending out six 'crayers' to the Icelandic fleet. They also fished off the Shetlands and the north coast of Scotland. Ling and cod were the principal catches, being salted and sold at Newcastle. Large quantities of salmon were sent from Berwick to Shields, to be cured and pickled, before being sent to London in tubs.

Ralph Gardner a brewer of Chirton Green, petitioned Oliver Crommwell's Parliament in 1655, about the restrictions on trade, placed by Newcastle. Gardner called for the abolition of the restrictions upon trade and wrote the petition from his prison cell, and called it 'England's Grievances Discovered'.

Because of the danger to shipping caused by the Black Middens, at the mouth of the Tyne, buildings were erected with permanent lights to guide mariners. In 1540, the first Low Light at North Shields was built on the left bank of the Pow Burn by the Guild of the Holy Trinity. The High Light was built on the other side of the burn. Eventually these were dismantled and rebuilt in timber so as to be moveable. The 'Old High Beacon' erected in 1727 replaced the wooden structures and still remains today. This was replaced in 1810 by the High and Low lights.

 

Low Light, North Shields c.1855.  The 1810 Low Light has a short-lived tide-gauge. To the left the 1727 light has been converted to almhouses.  At the extreme left is the citadel of Clifford's Fort, removed in 1893.

 

North Shields Harbour 1832.

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