North Shields was a busy fishing, industrial and manufacturing centre during World War II. The main public air-raid shelter was established in the basement of the Wilkinson’s Lemonade Factory. The conversion cost was £95 and a nominal rent of 5 shillings a year was paid by the Borough. There were three rooms in the shelter, with a total authorised capavity of 188.
On Saturday 3 May 1941, the air-raid siren sounded and the shelter filled up to (slightly over) capacity with 192 occupants. What is believed to be a single high explosive bomb scored a direct hit and the factory above, including machinery, fell into the shelter. It appears that little or inadequate reinforcement had been made to the ceilings of the shelter.
After five days of traumatic rescue efforts, the final death toll was 107 - the worst single incident in the whole of the north east during the war years. A special plot at nearby Tynemouth cemetery.