History - In the beginning

The idea, which became an ideal, began in March 1929. Meeting one Sunday afternoon, the bible classes of the Northumberland Square Presbyterian Church, North Shields, listened to an address on the housing problem given by Dr H A Mess, the Director of Tyneside Council Social Services and author of Industrial Tyneside, along with other papers dealing with the social conditions in that area.


His remarks and the realisation that local conditions were among the worst in the country led to a decision to form a Housing Trust in order to build houses for rent. The rents were to be as low as possible due to the economic conditions which were then prevailing.

On June 2nd, 1929 there was a lightning campaign to raise £2,000 in one week in order to finance the building project. Teams of young men and women, bearing the names of various trades and occupations, searched the borough for donations ranging from ‘shilling bricks’ upwards.

On June 9th, 1929 there was a thanksgiving and dedication service for the success of the campaign which had exceeded expectations and raised £2,400. By October 9th, only four months after the dedication service and commencement of building operations, the first houses in Fern Avenue and Brighton Grove, off Hawkeys Lane were built and were officially opened by the Mayor of Tynemouth Dame Maud Burnett DBE JP as shown in contemporary Pathé News footage of the 'Ideal Home Exhibition'. By the 30th November 1930 the remaining houses were complete.


In the autumn of 1932 a further scheme to provide a cheaper type of property was commenced. It was therefore decided to plan another lightning campaign on similar lines to that described above but with £2,500 as a goal to be achieved. This took place during the week preceding Christmas Day 1932 and was characterised by similar enthusiasm. Such was the success that on the fifth night the target amount had been passed and in February 1933 a start was made on the Howdon Road site.

The Trust’s original estate and nursery was honoured with a visit from the Duke of Kent during his visit to Tyneside and received his heart-felt commendation.
By 1936 the Howdon Road Estate comprising 48 flats in four blocks was completed. A nursery school was also incorporated onto the site.


1940 - 1980

The Trust’s activities were severely limited during the war and for some time afterwards. Not until the early 1960s was new development considered.
In 1961 a property in Lovaine Terrace was purchased, converted to seven flatlets and named Wheldon House in honour of former Chairman, Ralph Wheldon. The Howdon Road Estate underwent improvement in 1968. In 1977 the Trust entered into a management agreement with the North Housing Group Ltd., (later Home Housing Association, part of the Home Group Ltd.) in order to ensure continued good management of all Trust properties.

Further extensive modernisation of the Howdon Road properties, with funding from the Housing Corporation, was begun in 1979. This was the first time that public funding had been used by the Trust.


As a consequence of the 1980 Housing Act, the Square Building Trust tenants were given the right to purchase their properties. Between 1982 and 1985 ten houses at Hawkeys Lane were purchased by sitting tenants.

In 1985 the remaining fourteen houses at Hawkeys Lane were modernised and the Wheldon House flatlets were converted into four one-bedroom flats. No.68 Percy Road, Whitley Bay was bought and improved and a management agreement entered into with Northern Schizophrenic Fellowship (later, Mental Health Matters) to provide an eight-bedspace hostel.

A new development, Henderson Court, named after long time Trust secretary Denton Henderson, was completed in 1987 to provide eight one-bedroom flats and four one-bedroom bungalows on the former nursery site at Howdon Road.



The year 1993 saw the completion of All Saints Court to provide nine one-bedroom flats and one two-bedroomed flat on a previous church site in Verne Road, North Shields.

In 1999 the Trust built a new property in Stephenson Street, North Shields, to provide eight bedsits allowing adults needing specialist support to benefit from independent living. A management agreement was entered into with Stonham Housing Association to provide appropriate support.



Following the success of the Stephenson Street development, in 2002 the Trust opened a second unit on Beacon Street, North Shields, named in memory of the former Chairman. Edward Graveling House provides a further eight one-bedroom flats, plus a two-bedroom flat for the on-site warden.




Celebrating 80 years

On the weekend of 7th & 8th March 2009, the Trust celebrated its 80th Anniversary with a special service of commemoration at St Columba’s U.R.C. in Northumberland Square and an exhibition of the history and work of the Trust.


2010 - 2013

2010 saw the opening of a joint development in partnership with Home Housing on a brown field site at St Aidans Close off Whitehouse Lane in Chirton Grange. The scheme includes two specially adapted bungalows for users with disabilities and a large four-bedroom house for adults with specific needs.

In 2012 the Trust worked closely with Henshaws, Stonham and North Tyneside Council to successfully adapt a newly built property in Cloverfield, West Allotment for use by adults with disabilities requiring support.  

2014 - 2015

SBT-Margaret Grey-PresidentWith the help of management consultants, Artis, the Trust held a major reappraisal of its properties and service agreements to ensure continued the properties and management were still giving the best value for all our tenants. A number of policies were in need of updating, so following rigorous scrutiny and a lengthy tendering process, the Trust entered into new management agreement with the Ashington-based housing management company, Bernicia.

In recognition of over 66 years service to the Trust Margaret Grey was made Honorary President.

In 2014 another new property like Cloverfield, this time in Ridley Gardens was also successfully adapted with support provision being chosen by the residents themselves.

2016 - 2017

During 2016 the committee has been working closely with Bernicia and liaising with tenants to develop an ongoing programme for the future. The initial conclusions are outlined here in our new Business Plan