Building » South Shields – St Peter and St Paul

South Shields – St Peter and St Paul

Boldon Lane, Tyne Dock, South Shields, Tyne & Wear NE33

An early twentieth-century neo-Romanesque church serving the Tyne Dock area, built by the Hull practice of Brodrick, Lowther & Walker. The church has landmark value due to its location high above Boldon Lane. It has historical associations with the local author Catherine Cookson. 

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the area around Tyne Dock expanded noticeably, with the growth of local industries such as glass-making, ship building and heavy engineering. The mission was started on 14 December 1884, with Mass being said in the basement of the Exchange Buildings in Whitehead Street by Fr Kirwan from St Bede’s, Jarrow. A school-chapel (on a site to the east of the later presbytery) was opened on 28 July 1889. The architect was Charles Walker and the contractor Mr Hope, both of Newcastle. The cost of the site was £500 and of the building £3,501. Walker also built the presbytery which was completed in June 1893. In 1897, the site for the school was bought for £380.

The foundation stone for the present church was laid on 23 September 1905 by Auxiliary Bishop Collins. It was opened on 8 July 1906. The architects were Brodrick, Lowther & Walker of Hull. The builder was James Young of Tyne Dock. The author Dame Catherine Cookson (1906-98) attended both church and school in the 1910s, before she left school at the age of twelve. The high altar was blessed by Bishop Thorman on 30 October 1930, when the church was also consecrated. The altar was erected as a memorial to eighty parishioners who died in the Great War and was made of fifteen different kinds of marble by Almando Batelli of Tuscany.

In 1984, for the church’s centenary, the sanctuary was reordered. The altar was moved forward and a new ambo and chair were created out of the marble from the altar steps (by Morris’s Marbleworks of Whickham, Newcastle). The architects for the reordering were Dietz & Lyons of Jesmond. The new altar was dedicated by Bishop Lindsay on 27 September 1984. In the 1990s, Catherine Cookson donated some stained glass windows, as well as the heating system. 


The church faces northeast; this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was in the east.

The church is built in red brick in English bond and has a slate roof. The plan is longitudinal, with an aisled nave and an apsed sanctuary with side chapels. The west elevation has three round-headed stepped lancets above a recessed doorway. Internally, there is an organ gallery above the narthex which is separated from the nave by a glazed timber partition (1980s or 1990s). The three west windows have modern stained glass of 2006. The four-bay nave has a timber barrel vault with the round-headed clerestory windows (two per bay) breaking through the base of the vault. The arches of the nave arcade are chamfered and grooved with a hoodmould above them. They rest on octagonal stone pillars. The aisles have lean-to roofs.

The north aisle has modern stained glass depicting ecclesiastical symbols in each of the round-headed windows (two per bay). At the northwest is a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. At the east end of the north aisle is the Lady Chapel with timber arcaded rails, a large statue of St Teresa, and a timber altar and reredos with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Three east windows depict the cross flanked by two windows with the Marian monogram ‘M’. The sanctuary has the original marble high altar (1930, Almando Batelli) with the altar table moved forward in 1984. The five-sided apse has five windows with stained glass of four saints flanking the Crucifixion, the latter donated by the Rev. James Bradley (parish priest 1899-1914) in memory of his parents. The marble chair and lectern date from 1984 but were made from marble from the original high altar steps. On either side of the chancel arch are statues of SS Peter and Paul. The foundation stone of 1905 is set into the lower left apse wall.

The southeast chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart and has a timber altar and reredos which are similar to those in the Lady Chapel. In front of the reredos is a statue of the Sacred Heart, with a statue of St Joseph on the south wall. The three windows behind the reredos have modern stained glass of ecclesiastical symbols and local references (miners’ lamp, Tyne Dock cranes etc). In front of the Sacred Heart altar stands the font consisting of an octagonal white marble bowl on eight columns of differently coloured marbles and an alabaster base (donated by Mr & Mrs John Kennedy, 1906). The south aisle has a confessional and modern stained glass depicting the six Works of Mercy. The Stations of the Cross are painted on canvas and framed in carved timber frames. 

Heritage Details

Architect: Brodrick, Lowther & Walker

Original Date: 1906

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed