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Tynemouth, Historical Account, 1890

Extract from: Kelly's Directory of Durham, 1890

TYNEMOUTH is a municipal and parliamentary borough, comprising within its boundaries North Shields, Chirton, Cullercoats and Preston; and is also a township, parish, watering place and union town, about 1 mile east-by-north from North Shields, in the Tyneside division of the county, east division, of Castle Ward, Castle West petty sessional division, county court district of North Shields, rural deanery of Tynemouth, archdeaconry of Northumberland and diocese of Newcastle. The parish of Tynemouth embraces the townships of Chirton, Cullercoats, Monkseaton, Murton, North Shields, Preston, Tynemouth and Whitley; Chirton, Cullercoats, Monkseaton, Whitley and North Shields with Preston.

Tynemouth municipal borough, incorporated in 1849, find confirmed in 1850 by 13 and 14 Vict. c. 42, consists of the townships of North Shields, Cullercoats, Tynemouth, Preston and Chirton, and was originally divided into four wards; but in 1889 the borough was divided into six wards, viz. Tynemouth West, Tynemouth East, Shields North, Shields South, Percy and Collingwood. The town council also acts as the urban sanitary authority, exercising the powers conferred by the Public Health Act, 1875 (38 and 39 Vict. c. 55). The parliamentary borough is co-extensive with the municipal borough, and returns one member to Parliament.

The town, pleasantly seated on a promontory, consists of numerous streets, chiefly running from east to west, the principal being Front street, a wide thoroughfare leading from the Castle to the Green and St. Saviour’s church; but the town has been considerably extended northwards, including the formation of a crescent with gardens in front, facing the sea; from this point a wide Road called “the Grand Parade” leads across Tynemouth Links by the foreshore to Cullercoats: the whole coast hereabouts is beset with rocks, one group of which, called " the Black Middens,” immediately below the town, is particularly dangerous. The Prior's Haven, an inlet south-east of the town, being sheltered by an amphitheatre of rocks, forms a good bathing place, to which many people resort during the season. Warm, cold, and shower sea-water baths have been established at the haven, and the beach is well supplied with bathing machines. The Aquarium and Winter Garden, situated on the sea banks, between Tynemouth and the quaint fishing village of Cullercoats, was erected at a cost of nearly £120,000. For particulars of Tynemouth, union, see North Shields.

On the promontory at the mouth of the Tyne is a battery called the. “Spanish Battery,” and near to it is a statue of Admiral Lord Collingwood, who was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, 26th September, 1748. The North Pier, situated at the end of Pier Approach road, forms, a portion of the extensive works constructed during 1889 and subsequent years by the River Tyne Commissioners. Both this and the South Pier at South Shields were designed by the late Mr. Walker, and were begun in the year 1856, one on each side of the entrance to the river, for the protection of vessels from the prevalent and destructive gales, varying from north-east to south-east, as well as to facilitate the removal of the bar: each pier is formed of rubble stone and a superstructure of concrete and built stone work, the lower and larger portions of which were fixed by divers: the length of the superstructure of the north pier is 2,954 feet, beyond which the submerged portion extends for 300 feet: upwards of 3,000,000 tons of stone, exclusive of lime and cement, have been used in the construction of these piers: from their exposed position and the frequency of rough, seas, the work was attended with great difficulty, and was necessarily slow, but the whole was completed in 1803 at a cost of £1,854,659. The North Pier is a favourite promenade for the inhabitants of and visitors to Tynemouth.

Tynemouth Priory is an ecclesiastical parish, formed April 16th, 1861, from the parish of Christ Church.

The church of the Holy Saviour, a short distance north-west of the town, and erected in 1839-40, is a building of stone, consisting of chancel and nave and a western tower with pinnacles and spire, and containing one bell; there are 650 sittings. The register dates from the year 1861. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value £400 with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Northumberland K.G. and held since 1881 by the Rev. Herbert Sawyer Hicks M.A. of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, hon. canon of Newcastle, surrogate, and chaplain to Her Majesty’s Forces at Tynemouth Castle.

The Catholic chapel, dedicated to Our Lady and St. Oswin, and erected in 1889, is a building of red pressed bricks, with stone dressings, in the Early English style, from designs by Messrs. Dunn and Hansom, of Newcastle-on-Tyne: there are sittings for 180 persons. There are also Congregational and Wesleyan chapels.

At the extreme end of the rocky promontory stand the remains of the ancient Priory, now surrounded by the buildings and fortifications of the Caste; this fortress, captured in 1644 by the Scots and partially dismantled, was repaired and strengthened by the Parliament on the breaking out of the Civil War, Sir R. Hazelrigge being appointed governor: in 1782 it underwent extensive repairs and alterations, in the course of which various Roman remains were disinterred, including fragments of columns and other sculptures, and a votive altar with the inscription “I.O.M.AEL. RVFVS. COH. IIII. LINGONVM, " from which it has been inferred that this was a military station, occupied by the 4th Cohort of the Lingones: an inscribed tablet was also found, conjectured to have belonged to a temple appropriately erected on this storm-beaten cliff to the God of the Winds: at the time the repairs alluded to above were made, the towers and turrets of the Castle were taken down; the gateway and some of the massive walls are still standing, but the place is now only a barrack, the ancient Priory grounds forming a barrack-yard, partially occupied by turf-covered powder magazines and piles of shot; on the north side of this space stands a lighthouse 62 feet in height, and 128 feet above the level of the sea, its light being visible at a distance of 20 miles.

The Benedictine Priory of SS. Mary and Oswin was founded in the time of William I. by Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland, on the site of an ancient church, erected about 627 A.D. by Edwin, King of Northumbria, and rebuilt by St. Oswald, his sucessor; the early monastery was repeatedly wasted and eventually destroyed by the Danes, but was refounded by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland in 1090, as a cell to the Abbey of St. Albans. The body of St. Oswin, the martyr king of Deira, who died August 20,651, tad been brought hither from Wilfardesdune, near Gilling, in Yorkshire, in 792, and buried in St. Oswald’s church; the remains were afterwards transferred to Jarrow, but in 1110 were re-translated to Tynemouth, and the adjacent country for a space of one mile around his shrine received the privileges of sanctuary; de Mowbray, dying in 1106, was interred in St. Alban’s abbey, but the rebuilding of the priory was continued, and completed in mo. In 1093 Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland, and Edward his son, were, buried here; Eadward I. visited the convent in 1298, and in 1303 his queen and second wife, Margaret of France, lodged here; in 1312 Edward II. with his favourite, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, was a guest at the priory on Ascension Day, and his queen, Isabella, came as a visitor in 1322; in the reign of Edward III. David, King of; Scots, taken prisoner at Neville’s Cross, October 13, 1346, by Queen Philippa, was brought here on his way to Bamburgh Castle, and honourably entertained by the prior; in this reign also John, a learned monk of Tynemouth, wrote a chronicle called “The Golden History;” one of the most distinguished of the priors was Thomas de la Mare, who succeeded to that office about 1341, and who, during his priorate, expended the sum of £864 on the monastic buildings; in 1349 he became Abbot of St. Albans, and died in 1396; he was buried in the, abbey church, where there is a magnificent Flemish brass to his memory, now deposited in the chantry of Abbot Wheathampstead, who was also prior of Tynemouth from 1400 to 1420: the monastery was surrendered to the Crown, 12th January, 1539, by Robert Blabeney, then prior, and 18 monks, the value of its property being estimated at £537, and its revenues at £706 yearly; 62 ozs. of gold and 1,827 ozs. of silver plate were taken by the royal officers, the six bells removed to London, and the lead stripped from all the roofs: of the conventual library, one volume, a Latin psalter, is now among the Cotton MSS. at the British Museum.

The buildings originally comprised the priory church, which consisted of a nave of nine bays, 126 feet long, with aisles and western towers, transepts, 79 feet from north to south, choir of six bays with aisles and presbytery, central tower, and a small eastern Lady chapel about 22 by 13 feet; the width of the nave, excluding the aisles, was 26 feet, and of the choir, similarly measured, 31 feet; the whole eastern arm formed the conventual church, the nave being parochial: on the south side, in a line with the transept, were the chapter house and the dormitory, forming the eastern inclosure of the cloister garth, the west side being shut in by the refectory, and the south by the guest hall and various offices: the whole length of the church was about 270 feet; a great part of the structure was pulled down by Col. E. Villiers in 1665, but there still exist some portions of the Norman west front, the two western bays of the nave, and the bases of several of the nave piers; but the principal remains consist of the eastern gable and part of the south side of the choir, of exquisitely light and graceful Early English work; the east end has three elegant lancets, and above these is an oval between two small lancets; the lower range of windows on the south side are round-headed, the tipper tier are lancets, and from between each pair springs a portion of the vaulting; the walls below are arcaded and include tre-foiled sedilia; at the extreme end is the diminutive Lady chapel, 22 feet by 13 feet, entered by a doorway beneath the east window of the choir; it was erected by the Percies before 1336, and about 1850 was restored by the late Duke of Northumberland for the use of the parish; the roof is vaulted, with sculptured bosses at the intersection of the ribs, and there are canopied recesses at the east end: a portion of the priory grounds on the south side of the castle yard was long used as a cemetery, but was finally closed by Order in Council, October 28, 1856: the arms of the priory were-gules, 3 ducal crowns or; 2 and 1.

The area of the township is 1,189 acres; rateable value, £80,699; the population in 1871 was 19,326, in 1881, 22,548 and in 1891, 23,678, which includes 584 officers and inmates in the workhouse, and 118 in the barracks and Cliffords forts; the population of Holy Saviour, Tynemouth Priory, in 1891 was 3,063; the area of the municipal and parliamentary borough is 4,303 acres; the population in 1871 was 40,640, in 1881, 44,118 and in 1891, 46,588, viz:-Chirton, 13,066; Cullercoata, 1,620; North Shields, 6,046; Preston, 2,128 and Tynemouth, 23,678.

Places of worship, with times; of services. Church of the Holy Saviour, Rev. Canon Herbert Sawyer Hicks M.A. vicar & surrogate; Rev. Henry C. Newbery M.A. curate; 8.30 & 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.; daily, 11 a.m.

  • Our Lady & St. Oswin Catholic, Front street, Rev. Geo. Edward Howe, priest; mass, 8.45 & 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; daily mass, 8 p.m.; holidays of obligation, mass, 8.45 a.m.
  • Congregational, Front street, Rev. Saml. Pearson A.T.S.; 10.45 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Wednesday, 7.30 p.m.
  • Wesleyan Methodist, Front street, Rev. Edward H. Simpson; 10.45 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Wed. 7.30 p.m.

School Board

  • Established Jan. 16, 1871, consists of 13 members, of which number Whitley contributes 2; bye-laws were framed in 1871 & 1882.
  • Clerk, John W. Lambton; offices, Howard st. N. Shields.
  • Attendance Officers, John Henry Hogg, Percy Main; William Priestman, 10 Hopper street, North Shields; George Hogg, 26 Little Bedford street; W. C. Foster, 82 Linskill st. N. Shields & W. Towns, Bedford st.
  • Drill Officer, Henry Baker, East Percy st. North Shields.
  • Priory National School (mixed), built in 1860, for 460 children; average attendance, 325.


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