Jarrow Slake

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Jarrow Slake was a large area of mudflats which would fill up and drain according to the level of the River Tyne.

Industry sprouted along the Slake, with historical ordnance survey maps showing timbre ponds in the spot where the below photograph was taken just before the River Don’s confluence with the Tyne. The mostly Scandinavian wood was seasoned and matured in the ponds became highly sought after around the world.

In 1972 local authorities and the Port of Tyne began filling a large portion of Jarrow Slake, eventually evening the land out and reclaiming 46 hectares from the River. The site of the Nissan car factory, where cars built at the Sunderland plant are stored ready for export, occupies a large slice of what once was the Slake.

King Ecgfrith’s Port“, a historical article produced by St. Paul’s Church in Jarrow (which lies just upstream from the slake), is the most comprehensive and authoritative source on Jarrow Slake I have found.

Hansard also contains the transcribed records a parliamentary question raised by Don Dixon (MP for Jarrow) and Dr. David Clark (MP for South Shields) in 1980 which sheds some light on the politically and social contentious nature of the infilling.

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In rare tidal conditions, an abandoned car can be seen on the bank just below the Nissan car storage facility. It looks to be a 1990s model and has probably been in the water for a good 15-20 years. It is probably cheaper to leave it there than for anyone to take responsibility and remove it.
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The Don Bridge, which carried traffic over the River Don between Jarrow and South Shields is now a ghost bridge to nowhere. It has since long been replaced, but was considered important enough a transport link for the IRA to bomb it in 1921. Some evidence of the bomb damage still remains today.

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