The Old Town Hall, South Shields

St Hilda's Church and the Lost Burials of South Shields

I am delighted to again have the opportunity in the Christmas Card I have selected for 2022 to showcase the talented artistry of my friend Bill Scott in his watercolour entitled 'The Market Place, South Shields' linking it to my historical research of this most significant area of our home town. I am the proud owner of Bill's original painting which is displayed along-side his painting of the Wouldhave Memorial and the Tyne lifeboat.

The Old Town Hall is referenced in Posts on my website especially in my writing about Russell Bowlby (1792-1865) - The Life and Times of the Member of Parliament that never was! The hustings for the 1832 election in Part 1 are particularly significant. I plan to include my research from the minutes of 'The Exchange Subscription Room, 1800-1855'; a library which was in effect a gentleman's club predominantly for the shipowners of the town which was housed in the building. Many of the members were buried in St Hilda's Churchyard which surrounded the church and is partly visible in Bill's painting of the trees behind the church.

One of my most engrossing projects is based on the missing memorials in the churchyard 'The Death of St Hilda's Churchyard, South Shields' I started writing in 2009 which attracted considerable publicity when parts of skeletons were discovered at the site of the Asda store. The land surrounding the church was a burial site from the late 7th century to the mid nineteenth century and that the documentation of 36,576 burials between 1737 & 1897 is hard evidence, contributing to my estimation of as many as half a million interments in the church yard which extended to the River Tyne. I have a personal interest in the churchyard as my ancestors maternal and paternal were buried there dating back to at least 1620. With the pending demolition of several buildings behind the churchyard, I am anticipating that many more burial remains will be recovered.


This is South Tyneside's state-of-the-art attraction and cultural venue and the main library for the town. It is where I enjoy researching Local History, especially working on old documents, and using reference books which can be accessed in the Local History Section.

On the right of the photograph there is a view of open area of the Old Town Hall with the Meeting Room above.