What’s happening in South Shields at the moment as we approach the end of a very dramatic year?
With the current major issue of mass migration, outcome of Brexit and where we go from here, I found it interesting to discover that Yemenis were the first settled Muslim community in Britain with this fact having been used to justify the multi culturism debate – still a very hot topic today. They first came to South Shields around 1890 as the British Navy required seamen for duties such as engine firemen, then during the first world war many were recruited to serve on British ships. In 1971, the Al Azhar mosque became the first purpose built mosque in the UK and received a certain amount of publicity when Mohammed Ali had his marriage blessed there in 1977.
Although South Shields has a long history of ship building and mining, these industries have declined over the years but today what’s happening in South Shields is that the economy still incorporates shipping related industries as well as recently benefiting from investment into projects involving the town centre and riverside areas.
Also what’s happening in South Shields is the very recent development of The Word – a national centre for the written word which will not only be full of thousands of books but also includes actors from The Customs House bringing stories to life, a media studio to help children’s learning with IT, plus the FabLab for product designers with the use of laser cutters and 3D printers. It opened in October and will start off with a display of one of South Shield’s famous sons, Sir Ridley Scott. The display of his life works will be on show until May 2017 and it’s hoped he will put in an appearance to mark the event. But at 78, he is still extremely active in the film industry with a hectic schedule – so fingers crossed. A few years ago he commented following his accolade from the Queen in 2003 that, ‘as a boy growing up in South Shields he could never have imagined that he would receive special recognition and was truly humbled to receive the treasured award and believed it also further recognised the excellence of the British film industry’.
On another positive note, what’s happening is employment in South Shields is currently at the highest it has been for 10 years and there are plenty of future plans for the continuation of economic growth and investment in the area, for example, major property regeneration in South Shields with Trinity South – a construction of around 220 new dwellings, Ocean Road development which was completed last year which has sought to make the area more pedestrian friendly as well as including flood prevention work. The Holborn riverside property development – a collaboration between South Shields and Sunderland councils to develop office accommodation with capacity to create around 1500 jobs as well as a deep water quay, plus the International Advanced Manufacturing Park which is expected to create around 5200 new manufacturing jobs by 2027 with 500 more jobs created every year by 2018. All this should hopefully boost the property market in South Shields.
Other projects include investment in upgrading council house property and major transport projects,which is probably just as well seeing that 2015-2016 saw a record breaking number of visitors to South Shields as well as the South Tyneside Summer Festival which attracted more than 130,000 visitors.
So, it would seem there are plenty of things happening in South Shields at the moment and plenty of reasons to be cheerful.