St Jude's, South Shields
History of Rekendyke Parish
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Links for St Jude's Church, South Shields
History of Rekendyke Parish
We are able to trace the history of the area back to pre-Roman times. From archeological digs there is evidence of the existence of a very important British settlement nearby, Caer Urfa. During the Roman occupation they built a road which led from their camp on the Lawe and became the focus of development in this area. It was known as the Wrecken or Recken Dyke from which the present name of the parish was taken.
Laygate is a name which takes us back to the countryside on which industry was later to encroach. It reminds us of the common pasture of 1667 and the Lay Farm worked by Quakers before 1715. The Deans on the further extremity of the parish was also a farm of some substance.
Our industrial development can be traced from salt pans, glass making, chemical works through to coal mining and shipbuilding. The industrial activity being accelerated by the arrival of the railways in 1834. The first of these being the The Stanhope and Tyne Railway which carried coal and limestone from Weardale.
The parish may be better known to many people by its former name of High Shields. The consecration of the original church of the parish, Holy Trinity, on the 19th September 1834 coincided with the arrival of the railway.The influx of labour seeking employment in the developing industries led to the building and occupation of long terraces of two-storey flats. Such was the density of the population that the parish was eventually divided into five.
It was in 1859 that the railways completed the construction of their docks at the Eastern end of Jarrow Slake. This was followed by the first of the additional churches, St.Mary's, Jarrow Docks (later known as Tyne Dock) which was consecrated on 22nd October 1862. The next division was the formation of St.Marks, which was legally assigned as a parish in 1873.
The District of St Jude's
The District of St.Jude came into being in 1883 and became a parish in the year that the church was completed and consecrated on 20th March 1886. The Parish hall shown right was originally built as a mission hall and pre-dates the church by a year.
Finally, in 1910, the District of St.Francis was formed out of portions of St.Mary's and St.Jude's, but it was not until 1933 that the congregation settled into a permanent building dedicated by the Bishop of Jarrow in that year.
The process of demolishing the worst of the dwellings and rehousing people on new estates of modern design on the outskirts of South Shields was accelerated after the Second World War. Because of this and the decline in the traditional industries which had originally attracted workers and their families to the parish the population of the area fell dramatically. Even though some church members travelled from their new homes on the estates to worship in the churches in which they grew-up it was no longer possible to sustain the number of buildings and facilities which then existed.
Reversal of the past trend
The first move in the reversal of the past trend came with the uniting of St.Mark's with St.Jude's by an Order in Council in 1961, creating the United Benefice of St.Jude South Shields.
In 1978 the parishes of Holy Trinity, St.Mary, St.Jude and St.Francis were merged to form the parish of Reckendyke. The intention being to dispose of all buildings and sites (with the exception of St.Mary's Church School) and replace it with a new complex. In the end this was found to be not financially possible and St.Jude's was retained as the church of the new parish.
Holy Trinity and St.Mary's were declared redundant in 1980 and subsequently demolished. St.Francis having been disposed of shortly before this. St.Mary's School continues to flourish and is our commitment to the future.
Today, as we venture into the twenty first century, the scene is so different. The large areas of dereliction caused by the upheaval have now been mostly covered by a mixture of new industry, a dual carriageway to serve the modern needs of the area, new homes and a scheme of cultivated greenery.
The work of improving the infrastructure and quality of life in Rekendyke continues under the leadership of the Rekendyke Partnership. In addition to the material improvement the partnership is working to develop a strong sense of community between the several faiths and ethnic groups who now call Rekendyke home. St.Jude's revitalised parish hall, run by volunteer members of St. Jude's church are playing a significant part in making this happen.
(Information for this article comes mainly from St.Judes Church centenary booklet produced as part of the celebrations in 1986.)