North Shields housing trust celebrates 90th year

A housing trust set up in response to poor housing conditions in North Shields has marked its 90th anniversary.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 9:32 am
Square Building Trust Vice-Chair, Peter Matthew, with tenant Lily Gardner who first lived in a Trust property in the 1950s.

The Square Building Trust was started by the men and women of the Northumberland Square Presbyterian Church bible classes after hearing a talk about the terrible housing conditions in the town.

Under the direction of North Shields businessman and bible class leader, Rowland Lishman, they decided to have a fundraising campaign selling ‘shilling bricks’ and reached their target in only one week, with the first houses built near Hawkeys Lane six months later.

The Trust has continued over the years to build several housing projects, including specialist accommodation for adults with special needs and for people with disabilities.

All of the properties are now managed by Bernicia, which became the Trust’s managing agent in 2014.

Trust chair, Bill Southern, said: “It is remarkable what those men and women were able to raise during a time of extreme economic hardship and indeed many of them were themselves unemployed.

“In our 90th year we celebrate those pioneers of the past and also look towards the future. The Trust has remained true to those early ideals while still meeting the needs of our tenants in the 21st Century.”

The Trust celebrated this significant milestone with a special service at St Columba’s UR Church in Northumberland Square led by the Revd Trevor Jamison.

Members of the Trust Committee, staff from Bernicia and descendants of Rowland Lishman attended the service with the congregation of the church. It was also attended by the areas local MPs and councillors.

More information about the Trust can be found on