26 Jun 2020
Quaker Burial Ground, North Shields
North Shields, North Tyneside
This is a
Current status is
Burial Ground demolished but some relics lie in situ
Site is now redeveloped for housing. Recent excavations have been made to find headstones and other items
'In 1698 the Society of Friends opened their first meeting house in North Shields. It stood at the Bull Ring, and near to it, in Coach Lane, opposite Trinity Church, they bought a piece of copyhold land from Robert Lawson of Chirton for a burial ground. Phillips notes a burial as early as 1711, but the NCH merely states the graveyard was in existence before 1729. In 1800 a new meeting house was acquired with, in 1811, a new burial ground close by. Both these graveyards were closed by order in Council under the Burial Acts of 1853-54. Phillips, in 1894, noted the site was still intact, "separated from the public road by a high stone wall", and used for grazing. Its most recent use was as a small garden. The burial ground was excavated in 2010 by PCA. No headstone were found intact. In total, 243 individual graves and 19 separate charnel features were recorded. Biographical information from the burials were very limited. A number of shroud pins were recovered along with coffin ittings such as hinges and brackets.'
There is a Chronicle article dating back to 2010 discussing the excavation of the burial ground for new build homes (https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/quaker-graveyard-dug-up-new-1411646). The excavation involved exhuming all the bodies that were buried in the vicinity, and laying them to rest in another plot at Preston cemetary.
Both editions of the Ordnance Survey above show the site of the burial ground for Quakers in the area. On the 1865 edition further up, the burial ground is labelled along the main road close to the river and behind Trinity Church. It must have been quite quiet at this point, as westwards there were fields rolling back as far as Chirton along the Newcastle to North Shields Railway.
The 1898 edition shows the site unlabelled, but the square behind Coach Lane is likely the site. As noted above it was still protected in 1894 while this map was being illustrated. The sprawl of North Shields was rapidly increasing with the growth in industry around the area. The docks and gas works were close to the area, and the space was needed for terraced housing to accomodate the workers.
The Ordnance Survey shows the site presumably built over with terraces. It seems there is little to no trace of the burial ground, but must have still been owned by the Society of Friends as the Chronicle article below details a new development company bought the land from them. It may be the case that the land was a small sliver of what was a larger site.
North Shields is much larger by this point, with little border between it and Percy Main apart from endless Railway sidings and a couple of fields.
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