Our Story So Far


The Old Low Light Heritage Centre is the oldest surviving building on North Shields Fish Quay dating back hundreds of years as one of a pair of leading lights guiding ships through the treacherous mouth of the Tyne.

Following major renovation, it is once again shining a light but this time on the town’s great history and heritage.

Its opening in 2015 was driven by local people who wanted to bring stories of the area’s past to life and inspire others to find out more about North Shields.

Early plans involved two former teachers who set up a group called the Netties. They planned to fill a box with items to help tell the town’s story in local schools.

They talked with other local enthusiasts, including FISH (Folk Interested in Shields Harbour), also passionate about celebrating the area’s history.

Plans became more ambitious when the opportunity arose to use the Old Low Light as a heritage centre. A charity, called The Net, was set up with a board of trustees. With support from North Tyneside Council, funding was secured from the European Union’s Coastal Communities Fund.

From the outset it was important that the heritage centre delivered what the community wanted, so local discussions took place and views were listened to.

The centre is still managed by the board of trustees. With a small team of staff, supported by a large group of volunteers, the centre goes from strength to strength.

Since 2015, it has welcomed over 110,000 visitors, organised more than 150 community events and hosted 20 exhibitions with strong local themes covering art, heritage, maritime and fishing traditions.

It is promoting healthy living with regular guided walks for people to enjoy wildlife, the coastal area and its history. It also holds regular exercise classes. Our popular music events vary from live café and terrace performances to evenings of chamber music. Local people have brought their ideas to us, some of which have been developed into fascinating displays for everyone to enjoy.

The Old Low Light prides itself on its partnerships, working closely with the Council, local schools and a range of community groups. The building is now seen as a community venue, with rooms hired out for weddings, birthday parties, works events and as a base for some groups to hold regular meetings.

It helps local businesses, artisans and artists to grow by sourcing local products and using these wherever possible in the café, shop and galleries.

Finally, it plays a part in helping people into employment by developing their skills and experience as volunteers.

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