The Customs House was formerly a customs post, built in the 1860’s for commercial shipping, just before South Shields was declared an independent port and at a time when the River Tyne was a thriving centre of trade and activity.
After the decline of the shipping industry, the building fell into disrepair and was derelict during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In the 1990’s, Tyne and Wear Development Corporation funded capital development of The Customs House, turning it into an Arts and Entertainment Centre for the people of South Tyneside and beyond. This was done by refurbishing the original building and adding a new purpose built theatre. The Grade II listed building opened its doors in November 1994, providing South Shields with its first theatre and cinema in twelve years.