History of Theatres in South Shields

Published: 14th December 2018

We are pleased to share The Customs House have been awarded just over £21,000 of National Lottery funding. This money is to run a project about the history of theatres in South Shields. The Customs House celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019 making this project perfectly timed.

The Customs House Bringing You arts and entertainment for 25 years logo; Heritage Lotter Fund Lottery Funded Logo; Learning and Particpation Logo

Our Project

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded The Learning and Participation team this money to work with three South Tyneside schools . Our project partner schools are Seaview Primary, Dunn Street Primary and Harton Primary.

The children will research the history of theatres in South Shields. We will focus on four venues although there were many more.

Firstly on King Street we will look at two Victorian theatres The Theatre Royal opening in 1866 and Empire Palace in 1892. Secondly we will find out about the The Pier Pavilion near North Marine Park in around 1950. Finally, we will look at the redevelopment of The Customs House’s as an arts centre in 1994.

King Street Theatre Royal (Ref STH0000509) Black and white photograph 1897. Available at www.southtynesidehistory.co.uk/archive/architecture/cinemas-and-theatres/621011-king-street-theatre-royal [Accessed on 18.8.2018]

King Street Theatre Royal 1897 (Ref STH0000509) available here

Project Partners

Teacher Amy Emerson from Harton Primary said,

“Harton Primary is very ambitious school that sets high standards. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage our pupils with high quality heritage and arts projects. We are especially excited for the children to see archive material first hand and delighted their work will be shared with our community. Thank you to The Customs House for asking us to be partners and all the National Lottery players.”

To start children from each school will complete a heritage walk through the town. Following their walk they will lean more about the local history archives. Including what sort of things The Word look after and how to use them to find out about the past.

Back at school a team of heritage ambassadors selected by the teachers  will then research an aspect of theatre history. This research will help the heritage ambassadors create unique animations.

They will be working with Learning Officer Elizabeth Kane from The Customs House, animator Sheryl Jenkins, Catrin Galt at The Word and taking inspiration from the research of writer and local historian Janis Blower.

Thanks to National Lottery Players

Learning Officer Elizabeth Kane said,

“Thanks to National Lottery players. This heritage project will mean the history of theatres in South Shields will be better understood by children, their families and schools across South Tyneside.”

The project will finish with a sharing event in July at The Customs House. Our partner schools will see all three animations on the big screen and find out even more about the history of theatres.

Inspiring All Our Visitors

The children’s animations will be shared online for our everyone to enjoy. We certainly hope they inspire everyone to learn more about theatres in South Shields.

Alongside the animations we will create a learning resource if other groups want to investigate the heritage trail. This will include newly digitised theatre archive material from The Word and Janis Blowers audio commentary. 

We will keep all our visitors and supporters updated in this website and the e-newsletter.

History of Theatres Project Illuminated the Past for South Tyneside School Children

History of Theatres Project Illuminating the Past for South Tyneside School Children