Whitley Bay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Whitley Bay
St Mary's lighthouse at Whitley Bay - geograph.org.uk - 1259894.jpg
St. Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay
Whitley Bay is located in Tyne and Wear
Whitley Bay
Whitley Bay
 Whitley Bay shown within Tyne and Wear
Population 36,544 
OS grid reference NZ3572
Metropolitan borough North Tyneside
Metropolitan county Tyne and Wear
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NE25, NE26
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament Tynemouth
List of places
Tyne and Wear

Coordinates: 55°02′44″N 1°26′39″W / 55.0456°N 1.4443°W / 55.0456; -1.4443

Whitley Bay is a town and seaside resort, with landmarks including St Mary's Lighthouse, and the Spanish City Dome.

Historically part of Northumberland, Whitley Bay is administered as part of North Tyneside, in Tyne and Wear, England. It is located on the north east coast North Sea. The beach forms a bay stretching from St. Mary's Island in the north to Cullercoats in the south.


Whitley was first mentioned about the year 1100 when King Henry I conferred it with other possessions on the Priory of Tynemouth being referred to in ancient documents and maps before that date as Witelei, Wyteley, Hwyteleg, Witelithe, Wheteley, Wytheleye, Whitlaw, Whitlathe and Whitlag. Whitley is also referred to in the charters of King Henry II, King Richard I and King John, confirming to the priors their possessions and liberties.

Whitley was connected with the Crusades when Pope Nicholas IV granted to Edward I the first-fruits and tenths of all ecclesiastical possessions for six years to defray the expenses of an expedition to the Holy Land. A valuation was made of the spiritual and temporal goods of the Priory on 26 March 1292, when the yearly rents from Whitley were returned as 20 shillings, and the tithes as 9 marks.

About the beginning of the 14th century, the manor of Whitley was held from the Prior of Tynemouth by a singular feudal service called the Conveyes which seems to have originated from John de Whitley. Richard de Emeldon, eighteen times Mayor of Newcastle and seven times its representative in Parliament, was the Lord of the Manor of Whitley in 1333.

On 9 April 1345, Edward III granted Gilbert de Whitley a licence to crenellate his manor house at Whitley. To crenellate a house was to place battlements on it. Before this could be done, the sanction of the Crown was often sought. Although battlements were often largely symbolic, in this instance it is probably an indication of the degree of insecurity felt even this far south during the Edwardian wars with Scotland. The licence and crenellations were an indication of status. Only 2% of the small tower houses of the sort Gilbert built had licences. The 'sanction' of the crown was a sought-after bonus, but not a requirement.[1]

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Whitley was held under the Crown for a time. By a grant of Edward VI dated 8 December 1551, it came into the hands of Dudley, Earl of Warwick who was created Duke of Northumberland. It remained in the Percy family until 1632 after which time the area appeared to be let at a yearly rental to various holders until it came into the possession of the Duke of Somerset on his marriage in 1682 with Elizabeth, the heiress of Joscelyn, the 11th Earl of Northumberland. Whitley subsequently passed by inheritance to her granddaughter Elizabeth Seymour who had married Sir Hugh Smithson, a Yorkshire baronet, afterwards created Duke of Northumberland. Whitley has since been retained by descendants and the present Duke of Northumberland is the Lord of the Manor and principal landowner.

Monkseaton, which forms the greater part of the north west of the district, is also very old and its industries were common with those of Whitley being chiefly coalmining and limestone quarrying.

19th Century to Present[edit]

Whitley Bay Promenade

From the late 19th century and into the 20th century the adverse effects of the decline of local coalmining and dependent industries in the area were ameliorated by the emergence of Whitley as a seaside holiday resort. The opening of the North Tyne Loop railway line in 1882, connecting the coastal villages to Newcastle, benefited the tourism industry. The line followed the route of the present Metro line, and included a new railway station in the centre of the town, and another at Monkseaton. Both stations are still in use as Metro stations.

The Whitley Bay Parish Church is St. Paul's Church. The church was provided by the Duke of Northumberland when the old parish of Tynemouth was divided in 1860. It was consecrated in 1864.

The Whitley and Monkseaton Local Board was established in 1873. The district of the Local Board became the Urban District of Whitley and Monkseaton.

The town was known as Whitley until the 1890s, at which time the confusion of the name with Whitby, in North Yorkshire, was often causing mail to be misdirected. The final straw came in September 1901 when an ex-resident died in Edinburgh and his body was to be buried in St Paul's churchyard, Whitley. Unfortunately, the body was transported to Whitby by mistake delaying the funeral.[2] The council asked residents for suggestions for a new name, the most popular choice was Whitley Bay. It has since been known as Whitley Bay, but many residents still refer to the town as 'Whitley'.

British airmen man a 75mm field gun during training at No. 2 RAF Regiment School, Whitley Bay (then Northumberland), UK.

On 1 January 1944 the Whitley and Monkseaton Urban District became the Whitley Bay Urban District and on 5 March 1954 it was granted its Royal Charter of Incorporation as the Borough of Whitley Bay. The charter was presented by HRH The Princess Royal at a ceremony in the town on 14 April 1954.[3]

The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the borough, with Hartley in the north of the borough going to Blyth Valley district in Northumberland, and the main part including Whitley and Monkseaton forming part of the Metropolitan Borough of North Tyneside in the Tyne and Wear area. The town is in the constituency of Tynemouth and as of June 2008 its MP is Alan Campbell for the Labour Party. Councillors of the Whitley Bay ward of North Tyneside Council are Pamela Brooks, Sandra Graham and John O'Shea, all of the Labour Party. The other wards which cover the town are Cullercoats, Monkseaton North, Monkseaton South and St. Mary's.

The Links


British Railways poster, 1949

In the past, Whitley Bay had a permanent seaside fairground, the Spanish City. A fairground returns to the town on bank holiday weekends, the Easter and summer holidays, located on "the Links", a seafront park joining the beach with town, located to the north of the original Spanish City site. "The Links" has a skate park, and The Links Art Gallery.

The Spanish City Dome, a Grade II Listed building, is to become the centrepiece of the planned regeneration of the seafront complex, which will include hotel and leisure developments. The Spanish City is the subject of the Dire Straits song Tunnel of Love, with Whitley Bay and the nearby town Cullercoats.

Another architectural landmark in the town is St. Mary's Lighthouse which was completed in 1898.

The Whitley Bay Ice Rink was also a concert venue. Musical acts performing there in the 1980s and 1990s included; The Jam in 1982, The Cure in 1985, Oasis in 1994 and The Stone Roses in 1995, as well the World Wrestling Federation.

Whitley Bay Leisure Pool was opened in 1974.[4] After a programme of refurbishment it was reopened in 2009 and renamed Waves.[5]

Jam Jar Cinema was opened in the town centre in 2013 and continues a long tradition of cinema and film going in the town. [6] There is also a vibrant and eclectic annual film festival. The Playhouse, Whitley Bay offer many local amateur shows and tribute bands [7]

The Park View Shopping Centre opened in 2004, linking niche retailers on Park View with the high street retailers in the town centre. Shops include Iceland, Superdrug and Boots Group Boots and Sainsbury's local.


Whitley Bay is around nine miles from Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Tyne and Wear Metro line runs through the town with stations near the town centre (Whitley Bay), as well as in Monkseaton, West Monkseaton and Cullercoats. A Metro journey to Newcastle city centre takes around 25 minutes.


The local weekly newspaper, The News Guardian, is published by Johnston Press and printed on the presses of the Sunderland Echo in nearby Sunderland. The alternative free weekly paper is the Chronicle Extra, formerly known as the Herald and Post.


There are two high schools in the town, Whitley Bay High School and Monkseaton High School. The town is one of the few remaining in the UK that operates on a 3-teir system, with first, middle and high schools.


Abandoned (and now demolished) amusement arcade on the seafront
The Spanish City Dome

On 20 February 2007, North Tyneside Council announced plans to regenerate the Spanish City and Whitley Bay. At the core of the plan is the redevelopment of the Spanish City site with its iconic dome, completed in 1912. For many years it was home to a theme park with rides and attractions, until falling into decay following the closure of the theme park in the 1990s. An alternative plan for regeneration has been proposed by a group called the Culture Quarter.[8][self-published source?]

Recent civic improvements include, a skatepark opened in the Panama Dip in 2008, a children's play park on Whitley Park in 2007, refurbishment of the swimming pool and the Playhouse both re-opened in 2009.[9] A new library (behind the main street in the town centre) with a tourist information office, and joint service centre on the site of York Road was completed in 2013.[10]

A lottery funded community group called the "Big Local in Whitley Bay" has been formed as a part of the community regeneration effort.[citation needed]



Hillheads Park, home of Whitley Bay F.C.

Whitley Bay F.C. play at the town's Hillheads Park, adjacent to the ice rink. The Hillheads stadium in the west of the town and holds approximately 4,500 spectators with 250 seats in the main stand. Now playing in the Northern League Division One, the club received national news coverage in 2002 after winning the FA Vase (amateur FA Cup), beating Tiptree United at Villa Park, Birmingham. In 1990 the club beat Preston North End on the way to reaching the 3rd round proper of the FA Cup. They reached the F.A.Vase final again in May 2009, when Whitley Bay beat Glossop North End 2 – 0 this time at the new Wembley Stadium. This feat was recognised by a special hoarding on the face of the former T & G Allan's store in the town centre. They retained the cup the following year by beating Wroxham 6 – 1 at Wembley in the final of the 2009/10 FA Vase. In May 2011 they made it an unprecedented three in a row, and four wins in total this time beating Coalville Town 3-2, again at Wembley.

The club started the 2009/2010 season by winning 11 of their first 12 matches and drawing one. They topped the table with 34 points, 2 points clear of nearest rivals Spennymoor Town F.C. and with a game in hand – and 6 points further clear of third placed Penrith F.C..

Ice Hockey[edit]

Whitley Bay Ice Rink is home of Whitley Warriors Ice Hockey Club. The team enjoyed great success together with local rivals Durham Wasps at a national level during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Rugby Union[edit]

Whitley Bay Rockcliff RFC play at the Lovaine Avenue ground in Hillheads. Founded in 1887 as Rockcliff RFC, and still generally known as "Rockcliff", they were originally based on the seafront in the Rockcliff area of the town, prior to moving along the seafront to the site later occupied by the Spanish City. In 1907 they moved to the present site in Lovaine Avenue. The years immediately after formation and up to the First World War were the most successful in the club's history, when they were one of the strongest sides in England, beating the world famous Barbarians in 1892, and producing a number of international players including E.W "Little Billy" Taylor, who captained England in the 1890s. The introduction of the league structures in the late 1980s saw the club climb into the north east leagues in the early 1990s, and the best known player of this era is Paul van Zandvliet who went on to play for the premiership winning Newcastle Falcons. The club now plays in the Durham and Northumberland Division 2. Rockcliff also hosts an annual end of season 10 a-side rugby competition (the Super 10s), attracting touring sides from around the UK as well as from the local area.


The Rockcliff ground was the home of the short-lived Dirt Track or Speedway venture in the spring of 1929. The first venue on Tyneside, it was not as popular as the sister track at Gosforth Stadium which opened early summer and was closed after only two months, when the operator Tyneside Speedways Ltd went into liquidation.[11] About 12 meetings were staged.

Field hockey[edit]

Whitley Bay Ladies' Hockey Club was formed in 1950 and consisted of a 1st XI – played at Hillheads Grammar School (now Marden Bridge Middle School and the present base). Founder members included Joan Walker – Secretary, Marjorie Sutcliffe, Jean Stockdale and Beryl Privett (who remained President of the club until 2008). Club's colours at that time were white teeshirt, navy shorts and the famous red and yellow hooped socks, all topped off with a red blazer. Whitley Bay Ladies recently merged with the local men's team, Tynemouth Hockey Club in 2007, to form Whitely Bay & Tynemouth Hockey Club.

After a few seasons, the club moved its base to Churchill Playing Fields in Whitley Bay and stayed there until the mid-1980s until astro-turf took over and then the club was forced to move with the times and left the coast to play at Wallsend Sports Centre. During that time, the club set up a second XI and played in the Northumberland League and various county tournaments with great success. The junior section trained bright and early on a Sunday morning at Valley Gardens and through this development saw the rise of some of our present senior players such as Sophie Berry, Katrina Barber, Angela Millen etc.

Through the 1980s and '90s, Whitley Bay continued to develop as a club and from the 1st XI winning the County League, they got promoted to the North Feeder League, then to North Division 2, Division 1 and in the 2005–06 season to the National League Division 2. A first for any women's hockey club in Northumberland. Another notable success in the club's history occurred in April 2000, when the 1st XI won their way through to the EHA Knockout Cup Final down in Milton Keynes and played Birmingham University.

The club has continued to grow and has had to move home base again and for the last 6 years have gone a full circle and ended back up at the Hillheads site which is now Marden Bridge. They now run 3 senior teams and an under-19 team which competes in the Harper League at Westgate College.

The club has plans to merge with Tynemouth Men's Hockey Club, which currently has 5 teams and a junior section, to become the largest hockey club in the North East. This merger is planned to happen at the end of this 2006/2007 season and should be the start of another chapter in the club's long history.

Notable residents, past and present[edit]





In fiction[edit]

Whitley Bay Ice Rink is the filming location of the sitcom Thin Ice
  • In the BBC children's television series Byker Grove, Dave Richmond, the leader of the rival youth club at Denton Burn, was a local drug dealer from Whitley Bay. His trademark act of violence was the "Whitley Smile".[24]
  • In the movie Purely Belter, Gerry's drug-addicted-sister Bridget is hiding out from her family at The Spanish City funfair in one of the waltzer cars on the Whitley Bay seafront.
  • Spanish City is the title of a novel by the Tyneside-born author Sarah May. Although the novel is set in the fictional seaside town of Setton, this setting bears a number of striking resemblances to Whitley Bay, not least of which is the idea of a leisure complex named "Spanish City" that, after a period of relative prosperity in the mid-20th century, has fallen into disrepair. The novel begins when an elderly teacher is kidnapped by disgruntled ex-pupils. The rest of the novel is narrated mainly in flashback.
  • The music video for First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by duo Journey South was filmed along the beach and seafront in Whitley Bay.
  • The music video for Pray by Tina Cousins was filmed in Whitley Bay with scenes filmed at St. Mary's Lighthouse, along the seafront, Spanish City including the dome and a street at the rear of Whitley Bay Baptist Church.
  • In the BBC sitcom, One Foot in the Grave, Victor's oddball friends Ronnie and Mildred are said to live in Whitley Bay. "Bugger off back to Whitley Bay the pair of you!".
  • The English punk band The Toy Dolls wrote a song called I Gave My Hearth to a Slag Called Sharon from Whitley Bay.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davis, Philip (2006). "English Licences to Crenellate 1199–1567". Castle Studies Group Journal 20: 226–245. 
  2. ^ Shields Daily Gazette. 20 September 1901. p. 4.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Most of the above is an extract from material compiled and edited for the Borough of Whitley Bay by the Charter Town Clerk, Arthur S. Ruddock M.B.E. and published in the official Charter Publication.
  4. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/dblock/GB-432000-573000/page/20
  5. ^ http://www.whitleybayonline.com/news.php[full citation needed]
  6. ^ http://www.jamjarcinema.com
  7. ^ http://www.playhousewhitleybay.co.uk
  8. ^ "Vision for Regeneration". Culture Quarter. 10 July 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Curtain set to rise at Whitley Bay Playhouse". Chronicle. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  10. ^ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/local-news/new-whitley-bay-library-completed-1731581
  11. ^ http://www.defunctspeedway.co.uk/Whitley%20Bay.htm
  12. ^ Heritage Snippets: important bitesize bits of Newcastle's heritage
  13. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/football/1999/aug/21/newsstory.sport7
  14. ^ "Spartan Fenton awaits Rovers tie". BBC News. 30 December 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c d http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/columnists/mikeamos/johnnorth/3627960.whitley_grey/
  16. ^ http://www.amber-online.com/exhibitions/fishing-industry/detail
  17. ^ http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/browse/ne/uninews/archive/2006news/572751?view=Standard&news=archive
  18. ^ Graham Laws' home town (example): SoccerFactsUK.co.uk website. Retrieved on March 28, 2008.
  19. ^ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/john-middletons-faith-emmerdale-still-1372841
  20. ^ http://www.gfdb.com/Player.3718.Peter-Ramage.aspx
  21. ^ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/lovely-lucy-now-one-watch-1598020
  22. ^ http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/whitley-bay-actress-andrea-riseborough-4395261
  23. ^ http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/56897
  24. ^ durham21 | Features | Home Towns #10: Whitley Bay[dead link]
  25. ^ http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/sophie-delighted-to-be-on-thin-ice-1026084