BRANCH South Tyneside
St. Hilda’s Visitor Centre,
Market Place,
South Tyneside, NE33 1AN



Meetings on 3rd Wednesday in the month at 1.30 p.m.
(No meeting in July & August)


8th December 2021      Members Forum – ‘Researching Ancestors in and around South Shields’.
                                      (An opportunity to discuss resources for researching family history).

19th January 2022        Hunting of the Whale – Story of the men of the Tyne Whale Industry who ventured
                                         into Arctic Waters

                                           – Speaker Susan Lynn

16th February 2022       Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside
                                           – Speaker Anthea Lang

16th March 2022           Wooden Boats & Iron Men
                                           – Speaker David Hastings (RNLI)





  • 15 September 2021      Members Forum  – discussion about what has been researched.
  • 20 October 2021                 1849 South Shields Lifeboat Disaster – Loss of the Providence, involvement of the Burn Family, Speaker: Ann Franklin

Branch Reports



The speaker at the meeting held on Wednesday 16th January was Susan Lynn whose talk “Tales from the Dark Side” gave us a fascinating insight into the more macabre side of Newcastle going back to medieval times.

The first fortified wall to be built around the town of Newcastle was started in 1265 and one of the sites for hangings was located at the West Gate. Bodies were either hung on the gibbets near the gate or they were taken away for dissection by the barber surgeons.  Should the incumbent of the hangman’s noose have money, and as a way of hastening death, then they could pay someone to ‘hold their feet’.  It is from this the term ‘hangers on’ is derived.

There are several recorded hangings or beheadings recorded for Newcastle over the centuries, where the death sentence had been passed for not only murder, but for such things as “stealing a letter”, “denying the Kings pay”, “desertion”, and “burglary”. In 1649 a witch finder was summoned to Newcastle when 14 women and 1 man were denounced as witches. All 15 were hanged on the Town Moor in April 1650 and they are buried together behind St Andrews Church.

Susan had researched the stories behind many of these executions and these were covered in her talk. One such tale was that of Ewen McDonald who, having gotten into a fight in the Big Market, stabbed a Mr Parker to death.  McDonald was hanged for murder in 1752 which turned out to be a violent execution, so much so that when his body was being operated on by the barber surgeon, he was found to be still alive.

As well as tales of other people who came to an untimely end, Susan covered many of the well known locations in Newcastle such as Blackfriars, St Nicholas churchyard, Collingwood Street, Carliol Square Prison, All Saints church, Trinity House, Quayside and of course the Castle.

This was a most interesting presentation which was packed with dates and facts.




The Members of the Branch who attended the meeting on 20th February 2019 had a thoroughly entertaining afternoon, not only listening to Andrew Clarke’s talk on ‘Pubs, Brewers and Beer, but being able to ‘chip in’ with their own memories.

Andrew opened the talk by referring to the book published by Allan’s in 1891 on ‘Tyneside Songs’ and the first line of the song “then they for good drinking” and the connection to the 19th century “Newcastle Eccentrics” who were known to meet in the Flying Horse located in the Groat Market.

Illustrated with photographs both old and new, the talk continued with mention of the local breweries and how the establishment of heavy industries lead to their workers being encouraged to drink. Tyne Brewery established in the late 1880s which, with the merger with Scottish Breweries in the 1960s, became known as Scottish & Newcastle.  Their infamous Newcastle Brown Ale was first launched in 1927.  Vaux Breweries started in Sunderland in the 1830s and their Double Maxim was first brewed in 1901.  Both James and Robert Deuchar came to the North East from Scotland in the 1800s and started brewing; both of these companies were eventually taken over by Scottish & Newcastle.  Sadly none of the aforementioned brewers remain in the North East today.

Some of the pubs run by these breweries were covered in the presentation such as The Marsden Inn, the Black Prince in the Nook,South Shields, the Forge & Hammer and the Hydraulic Crane in Scotswood, the Argyll in Hebburn, and the Three Mile Inn, Gosforth. We were reminded of other South Shields pubs, e.g. the Horsley Hill Hotel (now a care home) and the Eureka in Frederick Street.  In Newcastle, The Grapes which was situated on Grey Street next to what was then Mawson, Swan & Morgan, remained a men only bar until the early 1970s.  Of course it would not be Newcastle without mentioning the Bigg Market.  The Old George Inn dates back to the 1500s, and we heard how a former manager of the Duke Wellington in High Bridge was so large that when he died in the pub age only 22, there was no alternative to get the body out but than through the window.

Finally Andrew took us back to our youth when he asked if anyone could remember the cost of their first pint! In 1972 the average price in the North East was Harp 16p pint, Exhibition 14p pint, and Scotch 12p pint but with 1970s inflation rates, some 5 years later prices had doubled.  Still cheap by today’s standards!!!


Last updated 25th November 2021