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Easting: 588000  Northing: 431080  Latitude:N55:11:07   Longitude: W1:30:48  Show Location Map
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Launching the "Ada Lewis"


Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is situated on the Northumberland coast 15 miles northeast of Newcastle. The first recorded charter dates from 1204 granting a fayre, starting on the eve of the Feast of St. Bartholomew for eight days and a market to be held weekly.

The first reference to fishing was made in the twelfth century when a home and fishing boat were linked to the monks of Newminster Abbey. By the fourteenth century, Newbiggin was an important maritime centre and was called upon by Edward II for support in his campaigns against the Scots in 1336. There are records of a pier being on the north side of the bay, however this fell into disrepair by 1352. Newbiggin was a major port for the shipping of grain at one time and thought to have been the third most important on the east coast after London and Hull. Newbiggin thrived as a fishing village in the nineteenth century and even today fishing cobles can be seen in the bay.

Dominating the coastline at the east end of the village is the ancient church of St. Bartholomew. The first church was built in the fourteenth century and was later rebuilt in 1846 by public subscription. It is also believed that a small church occupied this site before 1174.

In 1868, the first telegraph cable between Britain and Scandinavia came ashore at the Cable House. This was near the Lifeboat Station, which was built to accommodate a Lifeboat donated by the Duke of Northumberland in 1852. It now houses an Inshore Lifeboat. Since 1852, lifeboat volunteers have saved many lives. In addition, the women of the village not only raised funds but also helped haul the lifeboat in and out of the water. On the 4th February 1940, the lifeboat was unable to reach the ship Eminent from the bay because of the ferocity of the storm. The lifeboat was landed and re-launched on the other side of Church Point, having been dragged through the wind and snow by some 60 helpers, mostly women, resulting in the rescue of the ship. This episode became the inspiration for the Jack Higgins novel, Storm Warning.

Until 1910, Newbiggin was primarily a fishing village. A Colliery was sunk in 1908, which opened after many difficulties being experienced by its engineers in 1910. At its peak, in the 1940s, the colliery employed 1400 men and produced 470,000 tons of coal. The colliery closed in 1967. During its 59-year history 41 men lost their lives.

By the late 1800s, Newbiggin was a popular beach resort. Facilities included a number of hotels and boarding houses. Many prominent families from Northumberland and Newcastle had summer residences here. A promenade along most of the bay, with a bandstand and several shelters along its length was built between 1929 and 1932. In recent years a lot of effort has been employed to regenerate the town. A new sea defence system has been constructed. Repairs and improvements to the promenade have been made, following a storm in 1984 which destroyed part of the original promenade. There have also been improvements made to the Quay Wall [Piazza], including the building of a new bandstand from where musicians perform on Sundays during the summer.