South Shields Local History Group

Under Construction

Ocean Road

Early History
A small river called the River Branin once flowed from the Mill Dam passed Waterloo Vale went across Fowler Street (previously called Sunderland Road) passed the old library then emerged into Ocean Road roughly at the bottom of Baring Street it then flowed into the sea where the pier is now. 

River Branin flowing into the future Ocean Road area in 1787

In 1768 Ocean Road did not exist it is just a series of fields.

1768 map

By 1827 there is an unnamed dirt track which would later become Ocean Road. Ocean Road had also been called German Street and Ocean Street.

1827 map showing dirt track

The earliest mention in newspapers of German Street is in 1840. 

German Street was the early name for Ocean Road it was called German Street because it led to the German Ocean, which was the old name for the North Sea. 

German Ocean 1872 map

By the 1857 German Street/Ocean Road consists of fields, a brick and tile works, the German Cottage public house (1847), Spring Garden Tavern (1855) and the Union Workhouse built in 1837.

Map showing German Street about 1857

From 1860 the road from King Street up to the Workhouse was improved and then from 1862 the road from the Workhouse up to the South Pier was improved and houses started to be built on German Street/Ocean Road. 

Tenders for improvements to Ocean Road 1860

The name German Street and Ocean Road are both used in the 1850s and 1860s but from about 1870 the name German Street is less frequently used. 

Ocean Road mentioned in 1857

Though to add to the confusion between the 1840s and 1869 the name Ocean Street is also used!

Ocean Street mentioned in 1849

A stream once flowed from the Mill Dam called the River Branin which passed Waterloo Vale went across Fowler Street passed the old library then emerged into Ocean Road at the bottom of Baring Street it then flowed into the sea where the pier is now.  Until fairly recently this section of Ocean Road was always susceptible to flooding.

Ocean Road flooding 1920s (STH0000731 South Tyneside Libraries)

The shops and businesses in Ocean Road attracted immigrants to the area, from the 1890s a small number of Jewish people, Italians from 1905 then from the 1950s Indian and Bangladeshis.

In 1958 the first Indian restaurant opened it was called the Anglo Asian Restaurant opened by Mary Ullah and Lukman Syed Ali.

Ocean Road in photos

Ocean Road showing Marine School, 1890 (STH0005954 South Tyneside Libraries)
Criterion (right) 1900s (STH0000724 South Tyneside Libraries)
Royal Hotel, Minchella’s 1950s (STH0005953 South Tyneside Libraries)
1896 map Ocean Road

A Stroll Down Ocean Road
If we had walked down Ocean Road in the nineteenth and early twentieth century starting from the Ship and Royal and walked down to the end of Ocean Road at the North Marine Park then came back up Ocean Road from the Marine pub and ending at The Criterion pub we would have seen the following highlights.

1 Ocean Road – Ship and Royal
Opened in January 1876 it was originally called the Royal Hotel.

Advertised as “Within Five Minutes Walk of the Sea and the Roman Remains.”

There was a grand portico and gardens at the front of the hotel, these were removed for road widening.

Royal Hotel 1968 (Mudditt, STH006099 , South Tyneside Libraries)

Marr’s Corner was a tobacconist shop on the corner of Royal Hotel which opened there in 1939.  It was a popular place for people to meet for a date.

Marr’s Corner 1940 (Flagg, STH0005674, South Tyneside Libraries)

It stopped being a hotel and became the Ship and Royal pub in 1969.

The Ship and Royal is still open now.

3-5 Ocean Road – Roma Café
Number 5 Ocean Road was a dentists in 1895, how ironic the building would spend over 100 years as a source of the dentist’s nightmare; ice cream!

Being the main route to the seaside Ocean Road was an obvious choice for an ice cream parlour.  Sure enough in 1921 an ice cream parlour called Roma Café was opened at the start of Ocean Road and over 100 years later there is still an ice cream parlour at the same location; Minchella’s.

Roma Café 1920s (STH 00105754, South Tyneside Libraries)

Though originally called German Street, in the early 1900s Italian Road or Ice Cream Street might have been a more appropriate name with Vincent Poretta’s at 98 in 1905, Nicol Mancini’s at 158 in 1924, Fiorovante Figliolini at 98 in 1936.  Nearby in King Street were the Notarianni’s, Delgreco’s and a barely known Italian family called the Minchella’s!

The Roma Café was owned by Mrs Theresa D’Ambrosie and her mother, Angela Valenti whose married name was Franchi; a rather well known name of café proprietors in the town.  With a billiard hall upstairs at number 3 Ocean Road how the youth of South Shields must have loved that combination of billiards and ice cream!

Valenti ice cream van 1922 (Flagg, STH0001793, South Tyneside Libraries)

Angela Valenti was born in Villa Latina in Southern Italy.  In 1935 Angela Franchi (nee Valenti) died aged 71 her daughter Theresa carried on running the business until about 1942.

After their business in King Street was bombed in 1942 the Minchella family took over the Roma Café.

1949 Minchella’s advert (South Tyneside Libraries)

7 Ocean Road – Wiggs
Wiggs opened in 1927 as the premier piano shop in South Shields.  From the 1950s it started to sell televisions and radios, Wiggs lasted until 1970 when it became Telefusion, later it was the YMCA and is now Dainty Dance.

Wiggs 1964 (Shields Gazette)

13 Ocean Road -Marine School
In 1868 the Marine School opened. 

It is now Kirkpatrick’s pub.

Ocean Road – Congregational Church

The Congregational Church opened in 1884.

Congregational Church (right) 1900s (STH0010574 South Tyneside Libraries)
Congregational Church and Ocean Road Community Centre 1994 (STH0020726, Shields Gazette)

Ocean Road School

Ocean Road School opened in 1874

Ocean Road ends with Garibaldi Terrace and Gambetta Terrace where it joins with Lawe Road at the North Marine Park.

Radical European politics was much admired by some Radical, Liberal politicians and working class people on Tyneside.

Garibaldi Terrace
Garibaldi Terrace is named after the famous Italian revolutionary General Giuseppe Garibaldi who spent 3 weeks on Tyneside in 1854. 

His ship Commonwealth had been moored at the Pontop and Shields Drops (now Captain’s Wharf) about one kilometre from this section of Ocean Road. 

Garibaldi Terrace was built in 1884.

Gambetta Terrace
Named after Leon Gambetta a French republican politician who proclaimed the French Third Republic in 1870, he had recently died in 1882, it was built in 1885.  Sadly the sign has been painted over.

Leon Gambetta 1871 (Nadar, Wikipedia)

Other Side Of Ocean Road

Starting on the other side of Ocean Road our first building is the Marine Hotel pub.

232 Ocean Road – Marine Hotel
The Marine Hotel was built in 1868 by William Oates a local builder.

Marine Hotel 1961 (Ron Lawson, Sunderland Antiquarian Society)

The Marine Hotel is still open and is a brilliant pub!

228 Ocean Road – Maynard’s
In 1905 Maynard’s had a sweet shop at 58 Ocean Road in 1940 they had one at 26 next door to Wood’s the Tailors and at 228 next door to the Marine Hotel, this shop lasted until at least 1980.

Maynard’s on the right 1960s (Ron Lawson, Sunderland Antiquarian Society)

196 Ocean Road – Colman’s Fish Shop
Trade Directories list 196 Ocean Road as being the premises of fried fish dealers since at least 1907: Wolstenholme H. in 1907, Parr H in 1917, Lyons J. R. in 1922, Olive E. M. in 1924, Paraskeva M. in 1928 and most famously Colman W. in 1932. It is now 176 to 186 Ocean Road.

158 Ocean Road – Mancini’s Ice Cream
Peter Mancini was born in Caserta in Southern Italy he operated as an ice cream maker from at least 1910.  From 1926 he had an ice cream shop at 156 and 158 Ocean Road with his son Nichol Mancini who was born in North Shields. 

Mancini’s 1940s (STH0005673, South Tyneside Libraries)

The shop was next door to the Pier Hotel pub. 

Mancini’s 1939 (Flagg, STH0000728, South Tyneside Libraries)

Unfortunately on the 10th June 1940 after a speech by Mussolini declaring war, there were several disturbances against the Italian community and Mancini’s windows were smashed and 15 Italians were taken into custody, there were many similar disturbances right across the country.

Shortly after Italians who had recently become British subjects needed to report to the police.

Mancini’s were still making award winning ice cream at 144 Ocean Road in 1953.

154 Ocean Road – Pier Hotel
In 1875 the Pier Hotel opened. 

Pier Hotel 1920s (Ron Lawson, Sunderland Antiquarian Society)

The Pier Hotel is still open today.

98 Ocean Road – Porretta’s Ice Cream
Vincent Porretta (sometimes spelt Poretta) had an ice cream shop at 98 Ocean Road in 1905.


At South Shields Police Court, to-day, Vincent Porretta, Ocean Road, was summoned for using his shop and room for gaming purposes.

Inspector Kinlen said on Sunday night, be visited the defendant’s ice cream shop at 98 Ocean Road…

Witness counted the lads, and found over 100 in the shop and room together.  Describing the machine, the inspector said there was a spring on the left side which, on being manipulated, sent a ball into groove.  The ball then descended down the centre and caught a lot of little nails which sent the ball in a zigzag fashion.  If the manipulators managed to get the ball by the aid of a handle into a certain cup they obtained a check, which entitled them to two pennyworth of ice cream, sweets, or cigarettes.

The Bench fined defendant 20s and costs.

Vincent (Pinball Wizard) Porretta is in court again with 13 other shop keepers in 1932:

Porretta’s ice cream was well known in South Shields later trading on Victoria Road then Frederick Street until about the 1960s.

78 Ocean Road – Goldman’s
Isaac Goldman was born about 1872 he started trading in Ocean Road in 1902 as United Furnishings, in 1914 he is a fancy goods dealer, 1917 ice cream dealer, 1922 stationer, 1940 confectioner and in the 1950s, 60s and 70s they were selling toys, food and children’s clothes. 

Goldman’s (left) 1939 (Flagg, STH0000742, South Tyneside Libraries)

My own memories of the shop were all the buckets and spades which were hanging outside the shop, which for me meant you were close to the seaside!

Goldman’s 1970s (Johnson, STH0018358, South Tyneside Libraries)

Goldman’s was operating until at least 1975.

74 Ocean Road – Figliolini Brothers
Antonio and Fiorovante Figliolini were two Italian brothers who were ice cream merchants based at 74 Ocean Road in 1938 they also had a kiosk on the South Promenade.

34 Ocean Road – Dorset Café
Opened on Monday 16th 1935 by the Mayor Alderman J. D. Watson in a building formally known as the Regent Hotel.

The Dorset Café lasted until 1954 when it became Cromwell’s Furnishers; the building was demolished in 1963.

60-62 Ocean Road – Saville Brothers
Saville Brothers music shop was owned by Leslie Joseph Saville and Emmanuel Saville from about 1916.  The Saville Brothers were born in Russia and were of Jewish religion. 

1916 Shields Gazette
Saville Bros 1938 (STH0011080, South Tyneside Libraries)

Saville Bros had another shop in King Street.  Leslie’s son Ivor Saville carried on the family business at 5-7 Keppel Street during the 1960s, this famous record shop closed in 1977.

20 Ocean Road – Wood’s the Tailors
William Wood’s first opened his shop in Ocean Road in 1883.

Wood’s 1940s (STH0002523, South Tyneside Libraries)

As Wood’s window reached almost to the ground it was a notorious place to create a Harry Worth window illusion (Google it).

Ocean Road – Public Library and Museum

On Tuesday 10th April 1860 the Mechanics Institute was opened in Ocean Road.

In 1873 it became the Public Library then also became South Shields Museum in 1876.

Mechanics Institute 1870s (STH0004125, South Tyneside Libraries) / Museum 2022

South Shields Museum is still open.

2 Ocean Road – The Criterion Restaurant
Opened in 1875.

Criterion 1919 Armistice Day? (STH0001300, South Tyneside Libraries) / Ladbrokes & Criterion 2019

The Criterion upstairs is still open now.

British Newspaper Archives
Terry Ford

Ron Lawson, Sunderland Antiquarian Society
South Tyneside Libraries
Terry Ford

error: This content is protected.