It is bordered by Three other boroughs - Gateshead to the west, Sunderland in the south and North Tyneside to the north. The border county of Northumberland lies further north. The borough was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of the County Borough of South Shields along with the municipal borough of Jarrow and the urban districts of Boldon and Hebburn from County Durham.
South Tyneside forms part of the Tyneside conurbation, the sixth largest in the United Kingdom, with a geographical area of 64.43 km2 (24.88 sq mi) and an estimated population of 153,700 (Mid-year 2010), measured at the 2011 Census as 148,127. It is bordered to the east by the North Sea and to the north by the River Tyne. A Green Belt of 23.64 km2 (9.13 sq mi) is at its southern boundary.
The main administrative centre and largest town is South Shields. Other riverside towns are Jarrow and Hebburn, while the villages of Cleadon, Whitburn and The Boldons border the South Tyneside green belt, with Wearside to the south at Sunderland.
South Tyneside is represented by two Members of Parliament with two constituencies: South Shields (including Whitburn) and Jarrow (which also serves Hebburn, the Urban Fringe villages and eastern parts of Gateshead).
Mr. Martin Swales has been Chief Executive at South Tyneside Council since December 3, 2009. Mr. Swales previously served as Strategic Director of Development at North Tyneside Council.
Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, the early 20th century arrival of the Arabs and more recently the settling of people from the Commonwealth, notably the Indian sub-continent, and the European Union reflect the present-day culture of South Tyneside.
In South Shields (Latin 'Arbeia', Brythonic 'Caer Urfa'), excavations and a reconstructed fort are found at Arbeia (AD 160). This fort served as a garrison and an outpost of the Roman Empire, and is part of Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site. The hospitality strip at Ocean Road is famed throughout the region for its Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Chinese cuisine. Mill Dam, with former Customs House (now a theatre, cinema and arts complex), cobbled lanes and Mission to Seafarers centre, stands tribute to the long and proud history of shipping in the town and the river Tyne.
Bede's World in Jarrow (Anglo Saxon 'Gyrwe') is dedicated to the life of the Venerable Bede, the 'Father of English History'. The nominated World Heritage Site is straddled by two rivers - the Tyne and the Don. There is a medieval monastery (St. Paul's Church, AD 681), an Anglo-Saxon farm with rare breed animals and buildings constructed in original materials from that period, and the Georgian Jarrow Hall. The Jarrow Crusade of 1936 was a key event in the town's history and the original banner carried by the marchers to London can be viewed at Jarrow Town Hall.
The local identification of South Shields people with Arabs, which is widespread in the region, may have originated from the placename Arbeia (which is apparently a Latinized version of an Aramaic term meaning "place of the Arabs"), but there has also been a fairly sizeable Arab community in South Shields since the 1890s. This is also one hypothesised explanation of the term "Sandancer" (derived from "sand dancer") for people born and brought up in South Shields.
South Tyneside council is formed of 54 members, of which 53 are Labour, and 1 Independent.
In May 2011 South Tyneside council took legal action against Twitter to try to discover the identity of a blogger who posted allegedly libellous statements.
Three South Tyneside councillors and an official complained they were libelled in a blog called "Mr Monkey" . The blog made accusations against the council's Labour leader Iain Malcolm, David Potts, the former Conservative leader who served as an UKIP councillor until his death in April 2013, Labour councillor Anne Walsh and Rick O'Farrell, the council's head of enterprise and regeneration.
South Tyneside Council faced significant criticism from British media, who focused on the use of taxpayer money at a time of severe budget cuts across the government services throughout the country. The Council have said the amount spent on the case was around £75,000 (US$123,712 as of 31 May) or less, while media reports indicate the true cost is closer to US$400,000. As of 24 November 2011, the council had failed to identify who their critic was.
Critics also pointed out the council itself would not be allowed to take any action against the parties as evidence the court action demonstrated a misuse of funds.
Shipbuilding and repairing, coal mining and exports, and the chemical industries declined from the latter half of the 20th Century, resulting in mass unemployment. In more recent years, however, this trend has reversed and South Tyneside attracts new industries, most notably in the service sector. There is still a considerable manufacturing base of ship-repair and offshore services, engineering, electronics, clothing, furniture, paper products, timber and small precision engineering.
At one time, Tyneside built 25% of the world's ships. South Tyneside College specialises in maritime training and attracts students from around the world.
Tourism is also an important and growing industry.
South Shields town centre and riverside are undergoing significant regeneration, with new housing, business and leisure uses replacing old industrial sites. The town centre offers high street shopping, a regular market by the Grade I listed old town hall, central library, head post office and sorting office, museum & art gallery, bus/Metro interchange, town hall and civic offices. The Customs House is located within the historic Mill Dam conservation area and hosts a theatre, cinema, art gallery and restaurant. Arbeia formed the easternmost extremity of the Roman Empire at Hadrian's Wall and is located at the mouth of the River Tyne on the North Sea coast. Excavations, a reconstructed fort and museum are open to the public on the historic Lawe Top site (Old English: hill top).
The foreshore boasts a quality seaside experience, with the local landmarks of the Groyne lighthouse and mile-long South Pier to the north, and Marsden Rock and Souter Lighthouse to the south. There are award-winning sandy beaches at Littlehaven, Sandhaven and Marsden Bay; revitalised seafront promenades and scenic cliff top walks; the traditional thrills of Ocean Beach Pleasure Park and Dunes Adventure Island including fairground rides, an indoor bowling alley and amusement arcades; the North and South Marine parks with bandstand, boating lake, outdoor play areas and miniature steam railway; new state-of-the-art swimming pools, waterslides and fitness centre at Haven Point, a sailing club and Gypsies Green Stadium; the original Tyne Lifeboat, Jubilee Memorial and bronze statues of the Conversation Piece; a range of hotels, guest houses, chalets and caravan & camping sites; plus numerous restaurants, pubs and cafes, including the legendary local Minchella's ice cream and Colman's fish and chips.
In summer there is a free festival, including a large street parade and entertainment from local and international stars at the outdoor amphitheatre and at Bents Park. An open-top tour bus connects the numerous places of interest during the busy summer tourist season. The Great North Run is the world's biggest half marathon and takes place every September/October, starting in Newcastle and finishing on The Leas at South Shields.
On the coast road to Whitburn is Marsden Rock - an impressive limestone sea stack colonised by sea birds and a longstanding tourist attraction. Further down the coast is Souter Lighthouse, the first in the world to be generated by reliable electric current. Much of the coastal scenery in this area was, until two decades ago, dominated by the spoil heaps and pit head winding gear of Westoe and Whitburn collieries, but these are now gone and the area's natural beauty has been restored.
Jarrow is home to St. Paul's Monastery, Bede's World museum, Jarrow Hall, the Viking Shopping Centre and J Barbour factory outlet.
Hebburn riverside is surprisingly green with open views to the renewable and offshore-related industries across-river at Wallsend. The town centre has undergone significant change with new house building and civic & leisure facilities.
The picturesque suburban villages of Cleadon, East and West Boldon, Harton, Monkton, Westoe and Whitburn offer traditional pubs, historic buildings and independent boutiques. There is an athletics track at Monkton and cricket grounds at Westoe and Whitburn.
The physical environment varies greatly in a small area: from established industrial areas like the Port of Tyne to new business parks at Monkton and Boldon; from traditional 'back to back' terraces to more modern suburban housing; from the River Tyne to the harbour entrance at Littlehaven; and from Marsden Quarry to the Great North Forest.
The EcoCentre at Hebburn is a building constructed from recycled materials, self-reliant in power generation by means of its own wind turbine and is efficient in waste management.
The weather is variable and typical of a Maritime Climate.
The A194(M), A19 and other trunk roads link South Tyneside to the national road network. The Tyne and Wear Metro is a light rail system connecting the area with the rest of the Tyne and Wear conurbation, including Sunderland and Newcastle Central Station and Newcastle International Airport. The Tyne Road and Pedestrian Tunnels traverse the river between Jarrow and Howdon. A pedestrian ferry also serves the towns of North and South Shields. The Port of Tyne situated at Tyne Dock is a growing terminal handling large volumes of freight, including exports from the Nissan car plant in Washington.
Well-known South Tynesiders include author Dame Catherine Cookson, former three times Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir William Fox, actress Dame Flora Robson, Monty Python actor Eric Idle, Hollywood director Ridley Scott, waxed jacket inventor J Barbour and athlete Steve Cram. Author Lewis Carroll was inspired to write 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking-Glass' by local residents he met when staying in Whitburn. Singer Joe McElderry who won the 2009 X Factor also comes from the area as well as two members of 2011 X Factor winners Little Mix, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards. South Shields is the only town to have two X Factor winners from its area. Ginger of British rock heroes The Wildhearts is from South Shields.
South Tyneside is twinned with Épinay-sur-Seine, France; Noisy-le-Sec, France; and Wuppertal, Germany
Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).