St Peter's Quay

St Peter’s did not derive it’s name from a saint as the church lands of the surrounding areas had, but from 'St Peter’s Key' (or Quay). So called from having been leased from Newcastle Corporation in 1630 by Sir Peter Riddel, Knight, for use as a ballast wharf.


St Peter’s Key in the course of time having to the west the church lands of St Lawrence and St Anne’s and to the east, St Anthony’s, the area became known simply as St Peter’s.


St Peter's Yard

The busy waterfront saw the birth of the Tyne’s greatness in shipbuilding.

Founded in 1756, William Rowe’s shipyard was the largest on the river during the Napoleonic Wars. A near neighbour of Rowe’s was Thomas Smith a ropemaker and mayor of Newcastle. Smith apprenticed his son William to Rowe and in 1810 bought the yard at St Peter’s.

He then took his two sons, Thomas & William, into partnership and reformed the business under the title William Smith & Co.

In less than 4 years the company’s activities expanded so rapidly that Laing’s dock at North Shields was leased as an additional repair yard. In 1836 Thomas Smith died and his two sons took control of the business, which they renamed T&W Smith.



The firm specialised in building East Indiamen, among the best known types of this vessel being the Bucephalus weighing 980 tons, which was launched in 1840 (at the time the largest ship ever built on the Tyne). The Marlborough, 1300 tons (completed in 1846) and the Blenheim 1600 tons which followed in 1848, were awarded ‘silk ensigns’ and proclaimed ‘the finest ships’ in the British Mercantile Marine at the Great Exhibition of 1854.

Two years later a record crowd of 40,000 spectators watched the launch of the Carlos Alberta, a three-decker screw frigate of 2500 tons, built for the Sardinian Government.

In 1871 Smiths transferred the yard at St. Peter’s to Messrs. R&W. Hawthorn and removed the business to North Shields where some twenty years earlier, they had built a new yard and graving dock on the Limekiln Shore. Here the firm carried on until 1894 when the company, to raise capital, became limited and eventually developed into the well known firm of Smith’s Dock Co. Ltd.


Hawthorn Leslie and Company

R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company, was a shipbuilding & locomotive manufacturer. The Company was founded on Tyneside in 1886 and ceased building ships in 1982.

The Company was formed by the merger of the shipbuilder A. Leslie Co. in Hebburn with the locomotive works of R. & W. Hawthorn at St.Peter's in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1886. The Company disposed of its locomotive manufacturing interests in 1937 to Robert Stephenson & Co. which became Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd.

Perhaps the most famous ship built by the Company was HMS Kelly launched in 1938 and commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten. In 1968 the Company's shipbuilding interests were merged with that of Swan Hunter and the Vickers Naval Yard to create Swan Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders.


The Clubs Beginning....

The St Peter's waterfront area has a very long history of shipbuilding and manufacturing stretching way back to the 18th century. Thirsty work for those within these trades meant many pubs opened to supply the needs of the workers and inhabitants of the area, alongside the many Methodist Churches!


Originall St Peter's was commonly known as the 'Village' or 'Velvet City' due to the affluent home owners based in the area due to their owning the many thriving industries.


The 'Club' is believed to have been formed by local Policemen to provide somewhere to get the "lads off the streets, and to minimise their gambling!"


A room or cellar was made available for use and the local women assisted with it's development by organising raffles to raise needed funds. As funds grew a 'hut' was finally able to be built, just between British Engines machine shop and Towards Factory (now gone).


As the club grew and things progressed the club moved up to it's present location at the foot of Raby Street (1920's) where, to this day, still provides for the local community.

Information supplied by Dick Errington, our oldest regular member?



The Club Today....

St Peter's Social club stands on the banks of the Tyne which forms the South Side of the Byker Township. Located at the junction of Walker Road and Raby Street, and commonly known as 'The Byker Bottom' or 'Bottom Club'.


The 'Club' is symbolic of the skills and efforts of it's founders, past and current membership as well as to the proud history of those who built some of the world's finest sailing ships at St Peter's.


During our recent history the club was expanded to form the games and snooker room, enlarge the Lounge and create a new Committee Room (1980's), the expansion taking over available space next door that once used to be part of one of the former Methodist Churches!


The 'Club' continues to this day due to the custom of it's membership and guests who have supported the club, and who continue to do so.