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Smith’s Dock is coming home

Urban Splash, Places For People

They used to build ships here

Smith’s Dock is a place with a proud history. Sat on the banks of the River Tyne it was once the place where cargo liners, tankers, warships and fishing boats were made and repaired. In its heyday as a working dock it was the lifeblood of North Shields as a key employer for the area but has been lying dormant since 1987 when its gates finally closed. Today, 167 years after the first ships set sail across the North Sea, Smith’s Dock is being transformed into a place for a new generation to live, work and play.

Transformation sets sail

This new vision by the Urban Splash and Places for People partnership sets an ambition to create new life around its 3 remaining docks and open up new connections along the river and to the town centre. Smith’s Dock will become a new community of streets reactivated with modern homes, apartments, public spaces and leisure facilities.

Building a new identity

Working closely with the development team we conceived a new brand identity for this new neighbourhood supported by marketing ideas and collateral for relaunching the place. With the area holding so many strong memories and associations with the local population, the brand carefully draws a line between the past and the future with a modern take on industrial influences. We crafted a bespoke stencil typeface to create the central logo paying homage to shipping and warehouse signage and combined it with a vibrant colour palette and supporting graphic elements to create a modern look. The vibrant geometric ‘dazzle' patterns that adorned the warships that used to dock here to be repaired here also informed graphical flourishes in the brand identity.

Smith’s Dock is coming home

To promote the scheme’s first phase of 34 modern terraced houses arriving on The Plateau area of the site, we launched a microsite including a special promotional film dramatising the idea of new houses sailing back home to dock. Our story was inspired by the local tradition of the wooden dollies at the neighbouring site of Fish Quay. A tradition that goes back 200 years, the wooden dolly has been a well known icon of North Shields. A ship figurehead which sailors used to chip off a piece to take to sea to wish them a safe journey back home. For our film we designed a modern set of dollies for new generation to welcome the new arrivals at Smith’s Dock.

The scheme is now starting to gain momentum with the next phase of waterside apartments approved to go ahead and take this truly modern approach to building a community another step closer towards realisation. The brand will continue to develop as the story unfolds. Watch this space.