This paper examines lead and zinc concentrations in topsoils and stream sediments of public access areas in an urban catchment in Tyneside, UK. It examines the extent and severity of metal contamination, explores spatial patterns in relation to urban and industrial development, and makes inferences about potential metal mobility. Total and acetic-acid extractable lead and zinc concentrations, organic content and pH were determined on 121 topsoil and 22 stream sediment samples using standard laboratory procedures. Using the lowest trigger thresholds for total lead and zinc, almost 75% and 91%, respectively, of topsoil samples were classified as contaminated; proportions were rather lower for acetic acid extractable metals. Similarly, approximately 45% and 95% of stream sediment samples were contaminated with lead and zinc, respectively. The spatial distribution of metal concentrations was characterized by a hotspot pattern, with highest values in central and southern parts of the catchment where there is a long urban and industrial history. The potential mobility of zinc is considerably greater than that of lead in both topsoils and stream sediments, and for both metals is slightly higher in the stream sediments than in the topsoils; both of these differences are statistically significant (P <0.05). The implications of the findings in this paper for assessment and monitoring of metal contaminated areas are explored.