Whitley Bay

Whitley Bay

St. Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay
Whitley Bay
 Whitley Bay shown within Tyne and Wear
Population 36,623 (2013. North Tyneside Population Statistics - Whitley Bay comprises four wards: Monkseaton North 9,121; Monkseaton South 9.881; St. Mary's 8,275 and Whitley Bay Central 9,346)[1]
OS grid referenceNZ3572
Metropolitan boroughNorth Tyneside
Metropolitan county Tyne and Wear
RegionNorth East
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode district NE25, NE26
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK ParliamentTynemouth
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 seaside town on the north east coast of England. Historically in Northumberland, it is now part of Tyne and Wear.


Early history

Whitley was first mentioned around 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.[2]

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

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, now followed by present Metro system, included a new railway station in the centre of the town, and another at Monkseaton. Both stations remain in use as Metro stations. Whitley Bay remains a popular holiday resort, with a caravan park operated by Parkdean Resorts for both holidaymakers and holiday home owners.

The parish church is St. Paul's Church. It was provided by the Duke of Northumberland when the parish of Tynemouth was divided in 1860 and it was consecrated in 1864.[3]

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, by which time confusion with Whitby, in North Yorkshire, regularly caused mail to be misdirected.[4] The final straw came in September 1901 when a former resident died in Edinburgh and his body was to be buried in St Paul's churchyard, Whitley. Unfortunately, the body was mistakenly transported to Whitby, thereby delaying the funeral.[5] When the council asked residents for suggestions of a new name, the most popular choice was Whitley Bay. Though since known officially as Whitley Bay, 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 a 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.[6]

The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the borough, with Hartley in the north of the borough becoming a part of Blyth Valley district in Northumberland, and the majority of the town including Whitley Bay 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 Links


Whitley Bay is around 10 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne. It is bounded by the coastline of the North Sea to the east. North Shields and Tynemouth are to the south.

The village of Monkseaton is now absorbed into the town.

St Mary's Island, a tidal island at the northern tip of the town, is the site of a lighthouse, one of the town's landmarks.


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 three-tier 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 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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]



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 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.

Ice Hockey

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

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.[10]


There are a number of Christian churches, of various denominations and a mosque in the town.



St Edward's

Church of England

Free Church


United Reformed Church


Notable residents, past and present

In popular culture

Whitley Bay Ice Rink is the filming location of the sitcom Thin Ice


In the 1960s, the BBC television series Come Dancing included regional finals broadcast from the Empress Ballroom, Whitley Bay.[25]

Scenes in the early 1990s BBC detective series Spender were filmed in the town and one episode was primarily set at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink. The 2006 BBC sitcom Thin Ice was also filmed in the town[26] and at the ice rink.[27]


Parts of the 1976 film The Likely Lads were filmed in the town.[28]

The 2000 film Purely Belter included scenes filmed at the bingo hall adjacent to the Spanish City Dome. Some of the external shots show what remained of the theme park at that time. The town also features in 2013 film The Cullercoats Fishlass, produced by local 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.


The Whitley Bay Municipal Orchestra, conducted by Percival Goffin, was regularly broadcast on radio by the BBC in the 1930s, from the Winter Gardens, Whitley Bay.[29] In 1968, BBC Radio 4's Morning Service, was broadcast from St Paul's Church.[30] In 1992, the Radio 1 Roadshow was broadcast from The Links in the town and in 2001, the Radio 1 Dance Party also came from The Links.[31][32]

See also


  1. Communications, North Tyneside Council Marketing and. "North Tyneside Council".
  2. Davis, Philip (2006). "English Licences to Crenellate 1199–1567". The Castle Studies Group Journal. 20: 226–245.
  3. 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.
  4. "Whitley Bay and Tynemouth look forward with confidence". North East Life. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  5. "Funeral". Shields Daily Gazette. 20 September 1901. p. 4.
  6. 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.
  7. "Geordies facing the loss of their fantasy Spanish City". The Independent. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  8. "Curtain set to rise at Whitley Bay Playhouse". Chronicle. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  9. "New Whitley Bay library completed". nechronicle. 9 March 2013.
  10. "Whitley Bay". defunctspeedway.co.uk.
  11. Heritage Snippets: important bitesize bits of Newcastle's heritage
  12. Taylor, Daniel (21 August 1999). "Bridges crosses the divide". The Guardian. London.
  13. "Island secrets inspire Shetland author Ann Cleeves". scotsman.com. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  14. "Childhood in borough a highlight for ex-MP".
  15. "Spartan Fenton awaits Rovers tie". BBC News. 30 December 2008.
  16. 1 2 3 4 "Whitley Bay". Northern Echo.
  17. "Amber Online". amber-online.com.
  18. Anne Murray - University of Northumbria - 5 November 2012. "Legends Honoured by Northumbria University". northumbria.ac.uk.
  19. Graham Laws' home town (example): SoccerFactsUK.co.uk website. Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  20. Ian Robson (13 October 2012). "John Middleton's faith in Emmerdale still strong". nechronicle.
  21. "Peter Ramage". gfdb.com.
  22. Helen Rae (23 November 2005). "Lovely Lucy is now the one to watch". nechronicle.
  23. Sonia Sharma (11 March 2013). "Whitley Bay actress Andrea Riseborough sets up her own company". journallive.
  24. "Young [married name Daniell], Emily Hilda (1880-1949), novelist". oup.com.
  25. "COME DANCING - BBC Television - 7 October 1963 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  26. "British Comedy Guide - Thin Ice". www.sitcom.co.uk. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  27. "Sophie delighted to be on Thin Ice". Manchester Evening News. 29 August 2007.
  28. "Whitley Bay Film Festival: The Likely Lads (1976) 40th Anniversay screening (cert PG)".
  29. "THE WHITLEY BAY MUNICIPAL ORCHESTRA - National Programme Daventry - 10 August 1937 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  30. "MORNING SERVICE - BBC Radio 4 FM - 5 May 1968 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  31. "Radio 1 FM Roadshow - BBC Radio 1 England - 20 July 1992 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  32. "Radio 1 Dance Party - BBC Radio 1 England - 17 August 2001 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
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