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Pilot Street

Pilot Street, Readhead Yard

South Shields

55.006229, -1.432532

Useful Links:






John Readhead & Co. (1872 - 1881)

Types built here:

Screw Steamer, Tug

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Yorkshire Coal & Steamship Co Ltd, Cie Generale des Bateaux Vapeur a Helice du Nord

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



This was technically the second yard operated by Readhead at South Shields, having already worked in partnership with Softley next door. Readhead was born in 1819 and was a millwright at Earsdon Colliery. He then pursued the same job at Marshall's shipyard between 1842 and 1858. He was appointed manager at Marshall's new yard at Willington Quay but left 6 years later to set up a yard with Softley at the Lawe.

Their partnership ended in 1872 and John likely continued at this site. Readhead produced iron steamers from the outset for the cargo trade, rarely stepping away from what provided him a solid reputation.

It fast outgrew the capacity he had here, so by 1880 he moved to a new site at West Docks where his legacy has remained. This site was covered over and empty bar the ends of the slipways in the 1890s.

Readhead's Landing, a small lane from Pilot Street to the Tyne, was also situated next door providing a certain clue to his location. The yard however was in use before Readhead took it over, however it has been difficult to ascertain exactly who worked here as the ownership of the Lawe Yards are complicated and written records don't provide the exact location.

'Sketches of The Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham' T.H.Hair, published in 1844

Ordnance Survey, 1857

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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