St. Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay
Whitley Bay shown within Tyne and Wear
|OS grid reference|
|Metropolitan borough||North Tyneside|
|Metropolitan county||Tyne and Wear|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||WHITLEY BAY|
|Postcode district||NE25, NE26|
|Fire||Tyne and Wear|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
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.
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.
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.
19th Century to present
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 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. 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'.
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.
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.
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.
On 20 February 2007, North Tyneside Council announced plans to regenerate the Spanish City and Whitley Bay. At the core of the plan was 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 2000.
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. 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.
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 won the FA Vase (amateur FA Cup) in 2002, beating Tiptree United at Villa Park, Birmingham. They reached the FA Vase final again in May 2009, when Whitley Bay beat Glossop North End 2 – 0 at the new Wembley Stadium. 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.
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.
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. About 12 meetings were staged.
Notable residents, past and present
- Gladstone Adams – inventor of the windscreen wiper and former mayor
- Michael Bridges – former Newcastle United and Sunderland football player
- Ann Cleeves - author
- Graham Fenton – footballer
- Toby Flood – England rugby union international
- John Gilroy – artist of Guinness advertisement fame
- Tom Hadaway – playwright
- W. E. Johns – author of Biggles (c. 1925)
- Ian La Frenais – comedy writer (The Likely Lads, Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet)
- Graham Laws – Football League referee
- John Middleton – actor (Emmerdale)
- Peter Ramage – Queens Park Rangers and former Newcastle United player – former pupil of Whitley Bay High School
- Lucy Ratcliffe – won the first series of the Living TV programme Britain's Next Top Model
- Andrea Riseborough – actress
- Hilton Valentine – guitarist, The Animals
- Emily Hilda Young – novelist
In popular culture
Whitley Bay features in The Cullercoats Fishlass (2013) by local film company ACT 2 CAM, in which Charles Elderton tries to persuade the Spanish City owners to let his troupe perform there, despite the Sunday licensing laws.
- Davis, Philip (2006). "English Licences to Crenellate 1199–1567". Castle Studies Group Journal 20: 226–245.
- Tony Henderson (3 April 2014). "Lost photo is key to restoring stone fountain at St Paul’s Church in Whitley Bay - The Journal". journallive. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Whitley Bay and Tynemouth look forward with confidence". North East Life. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Funeral". Shields Daily Gazette. 20 September 1901. p. 4.
- 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.
- "Geordies facing the loss of their fantasy Spanish City". The Independent. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Curtain set to rise at Whitley Bay Playhouse". Chronicle. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
- "New Whitley Bay library completed". nechronicle. 9 March 2013.
- "Whitley Bay". defunctspeedway.co.uk.
- Heritage Snippets: important bitesize bits of Newcastle's heritage
- Taylor, Daniel (21 August 1999). "Bridges crosses the divide". The Guardian (London).
- "Island secrets inspire Shetland author Ann Cleeves". scotsman.com. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Spartan Fenton awaits Rovers tie". BBC News. 30 December 2008.
- "Whitley Bay". Northern Echo.
- "Amber Online". amber-online.com.
- Anne Murray - University of Northumbria - 5 November 2012. "Legends Honoured by Northumbria University". northumbria.ac.uk.
- Graham Laws' home town (example): SoccerFactsUK.co.uk website. Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
- Ian Robson (13 October 2012). "John Middleton's faith in Emmerdale still strong". nechronicle.
- "Peter Ramage". gfdb.com.
- Helen Rae (23 November 2005). "Lovely Lucy is now the one to watch". nechronicle.
- Sonia Sharma (11 March 2013). "Whitley Bay actress Andrea Riseborough sets up her own company". journallive.
- "Young [married name Daniell], Emily Hilda (1880-1949), novelist". oup.com.
- "Sophie delighted to be on Thin Ice". Manchester Evening News. 29 August 2007.