The Fish Quay
can trace its origins back to around the year 1225, when Prior Germanus from the Tynemouth monastery, began a simple village of shillings (rude huts) at the mouth of the Pow Burn where Fish Quay stands, today.
The small settlement, to the east of the present Fish Quay, soon grew to include mills, bakehouses, a fish quay and brewery. However, legislation favouring Newcastle as a port hindered the development of North Shields, effectively preventing the loading and discharging of cargoes other than salt or fish. North Shields struggled with Newcastle over trade for several centuries. The settlement was originally used by fisherman who supplied the Priory, however it was not long before traders and merchants realised the benefit of this landing place situated so close to the mouth of the River Tyne.This small port soon became a focal point of both legal and physical attacks by both the established merchants and the burgesses of Newcastle who saw the port as competition.
In 1290 it was claimed that Fish Quay was “where no town ought to be” as its presence was a loss to both the City and the Crown. Despite these arguments, by the turn of the 13th century there was in excess of a hundred houses, many of which had their own separate quays.The Fish Quay area, originally known as Low Lights, was the original focus of North Shields. As it grew up the banks, the rich built grand streets including Dockwray Square and Howard Street, which now form the basis of today’s town centre.