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Tynemouth Castle and Priory
Tyne and Wear UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Tyne and Wear
Population67,519 (2011)
OS grid reference NZ367694
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NE30
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
UK Parliament
List of places
Tyne and Wear
55°01′01″N1°25′23″W / 55.017°N 1.423°W / 55.017; -1.423 Coordinates: 55°01′01″N1°25′23″W / 55.017°N 1.423°W / 55.017; -1.423

Tynemouth ( /ˈtnmθ/ ) is a large town and former county borough in England, at the River Tyne's mouth. [1] A historic part of Northumberland, it is administratively a part of North Tyneside borough in Tyne and Wear county.


Until 1974, the town was a county borough, including North Shields. It is 8 mi (13 km) east-northeast of Newcastle upon Tyne with a population of 17,056 in 2001. [2] The Tynemouth ward population in North Tyneside was 10,472 at the 2011 Census. [3]


An aerial shot of Tynemouth Castle, taken in 1917, which was a major coastal fortress and the control centre of the Tyne defences, which stretched from Sunderland to Blyth. Tynemouth Castle 12th September 1917.jpg
An aerial shot of Tynemouth Castle, taken in 1917, which was a major coastal fortress and the control centre of the Tyne defences, which stretched from Sunderland to Blyth.

The headland towering over the mouth of the River Tyne has been settled since the Iron Age. [4] The Romans may have occupied it as a signal station, though it is just north of the Hadrian's Wall frontier (the Roman fort and supply depot of Arbeia stands almost opposite it on the southern headland of the Tyne). In the 7th century a monastery was built in Tynemouth and later fortified. The headland was known as Pen Bal Crag. [5]

The place where now stands the Monastery of Tynemouth was anciently called by the Saxons Benebalcrag

John Leland at the time of Henry VIII

The monastery was sacked by the Danes in 800, rebuilt, and destroyed again in 875, but by 1083 it was again operational. [6]

Three kings are reported to have been buried within the monastery: Oswin, King of Deira (651); Osred II, King of Northumbria (792); and, for a time, Malcolm III, King of Scots (1093). [7] Three crowns still adorn the North Tyneside coat of arms. (North Tyneside Council, 1990).

The queens of Edward I and Edward II stayed in the Castle and Priory while their husbands were campaigning in Scotland. King Edward III considered it to be one of the strongest castles in the Northern Marches. After the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Edward II fled from Tynemouth by ship.

A village had long been established in the shelter of the fortified Priory, and around 1325 the prior built a port for fishing and trading. This led to a dispute between Tynemouth and the more powerful Newcastle over shipping rights on the Tyne, which continued for centuries. For more history see North Shields.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine landed at Tynemouth in August 1642 on his way to fight in the English Civil War. [8]

Tynemouth was administered as a county borough with its headquarters at Tynemouth Town Hall in North Shields until 1974. [9]

Tynemouth was listed in the 2018 Sunday Times report on best places to live in Northern England. [10]


Tynemouth has a very moderated oceanic climate heavily influenced by its position adjacent to the North Sea. As a result of this, summer highs are subdued and, according to the Met Office 1981–2010 data, average around 18 °C (64 °F). Due to its marine influence, winter lows especially are very mild for a Northern English location. Sunshine levels of 1515 hours per annum are in the normal range for the coastal North East, which is also true for the relatively low amount of precipitation at 597.2 millimetres (23.51 in). [11]

Climate data for Tynemouth 33m asl, 1981–2010
Average high °C (°F)7.2
Average low °C (°F)2.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)45.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 61.181.6117.7149.9191.7183.0185.7174.9174.1106.270.451.91,515
Source: Met Office [11]

Attractions and amenities


Tynemouth Longsands The beach at Tynemouth - geograph.org.uk - 1631864.jpg
Tynemouth Longsands

In the late 18th century, sea-bathing from Tynemouth's east-facing beaches became fashionable. King Edward's Bay and Tynemouth Longsands are very popular with locals and tourists alike.

Prior's Haven is a small beach within the mouth of the Tyne, sheltered between the Priory and the Spanish Battery, with the pier access on its north side. It was popular with Victorian bathers [12] and is now home to Tynemouth Rowing Club and the local sailing club.

King Edward's Bay (possibly a reference to Edward II) is a small beach on the north side of the Priory, sheltered on three sides by cliffs and reached by stairways or, by the fit and adventurous who understand the weather and tides, over the rocks round the promontories on the north or south sides.

Longsands is the next beach to the north, an expanse of fine sand 1,200 yards (1,100 m) long, lying between the former Tynemouth outdoor swimming pool and Cullercoats to the north.

In 2013, Longsands was voted one of the best beaches in the country by users of the world's largest travel site TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor users voted the beach the UK's fourth favourite beach in its 2013 Travellers' Choice Beaches Awards. The beach was also voted the 12th best in Europe. [13]

King Edward's Bay King Edward's Bay Tynemouth from Sharpness Point - geograph.org.uk - 107259.jpg
King Edward's Bay

Front Street

A statue of Queen Victoria by Alfred Turner, unveiled on 25 October 1902, is situated at the edge of the Village Green [14] which is home to the War Memorials for the residents of Tynemouth lost during the Second Boer War of 1899–1902. Designed by A.B. Plummer, it was unveiled on 13 October 1903 by William Brodrick, 8th Viscount Midleton.

The larger central memorial is made of white granite with a cruciform column rising from between four struts in a contemporary design for its time. The front face has a relief sword and wreath carved onto it with the inscription below. The other three faces hold the honour roll for those lost during both World Wars. It was unveiled in 1923. DM O'Herlihy was named as the original designer but a press report stated that a Mr Steele designed the monument and credited O'Herlihy with preparatory works on the village green. [15] The 82 names from World War II were added in 1999. [16]

Kings Priory School

Kings Priory School Tynemouth - King's School - geograph.org.uk - 807020.jpg
Kings Priory School

Located on Huntingdon Place, Kings Priory School (formerly The King's School and Priory Primary School) is a co-educational academy with over 800 pupils aged between 4 and 18. Though founded in Jarrow in 1860, the school moved to its present site in Tynemouth in 1865 originally providing a private education for local boys. The school has an Anglican tradition, but admits students of all faiths. Formerly a fee-paying independent school, in 2013 the school merged with the local state Priory Primary School to become a state academy. [17]

Former King's School was named in reference to the three ancient kings buried at Tynemouth Priory: Oswin, Osred and Malcolm III. Its most famous old boy is Stan Laurel, one half of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. [18] Hollywood film director Sir Ridley Scott, and racing driver Jason Plato also attended the school.

Tynemouth Pier and lighthouse

Wide view of Tynemouth pier and lighthouse Tynemouth North Pier - geograph.org.uk - 326313.jpg
Wide view of Tynemouth pier and lighthouse
Tynemouth North Pier light
Lighthouse Tynemouth North Pier - geograph.org.uk - 1195560.jpg
Location Tynemouth, North Tyneside, United Kingdom OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Coordinates 55°00′52″N1°24′11″W / 55.01451°N 1.402941°W / 55.01451; -1.402941
Constructed1864 (first)
First lit1903 (current)
Constructionstone  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Tower shapetapered cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern [19]
Markingsunpainted (tower), white (lantern)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Tower height23 m (75 ft)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Focal height26 m (85 ft)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Lensrotating catadioptric lens (6 panels in 2 groups of 3)
Power sourcemains electricity  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Range26 nmi (48 km; 30 mi)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Characteristic Fl(3) W 10s  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Fog signal 1 blast every 10s.
Admiralty numberA2700  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
NGA number 114-2104
ARLHS numberENG159  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Operator Port of Tyne   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
HeritageGrade II listed building  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

This massive stone breakwater extends from the foot of the Priory some 900 yards (810 metres) out to sea, protecting the northern flank of the mouth of the Tyne. It has a broad walkway on top, popular with Sunday strollers. On the lee side is a lower level rail track, formerly used by trains and cranes during the construction and maintenance of the pier. At the seaward end is a lighthouse.

The pier's construction took over 40 years (1854–1895). [20] In 1898 the original curved design proved inadequate against a great storm and the centre section was destroyed. The pier was rebuilt in a straighter line and completed in 1909. [21] A companion pier at South Shields protects the southern flank of the river mouth.

A lighthouse was built on the North Pier in 1864, but when the pier had to be rebuilt to a new design, a new lighthouse was required. The work was undertaken by Trinity House, beginning in 1903; the lighthouse was finished before the pier itself, and was first lit on 15 January 1908. [22] The revolving optic was manufactured by Barbier, Bénard, et Turenne; it remains in use today. [23] The light source was an incandescent oil vapour lamp, which (together with the optic) produced a 70,000 candle-power light with a range of 15 nautical miles (28 km; 17 mi). [24] The lighthouse was also equipped with a reed fog signal, powered by compressed air. It was manned by four keepers, with two on duty at any one time. [24] In September 1961 a new, more powerful electric light was installed by the Tyne Improvement Commissioners (powered from the mains). [25] Then in 1967 the lighthouse (by then staffed by six keepers on rotation) was automated; a diesel generator was installed along with an electric foghorn. [26]

Before the pier was built, a lighthouse stood within the grounds of Tynemouth Priory and Castle. It was demolished in 1898–99. It stood on the site of the now-disused Coastguard Station.

The Spanish Battery

The headland dominates the river mouth and is less well known as Freestone Point. Settlements dating from the Iron Age and later have been discovered here. [27] The promontory supposedly takes its name from Spanish mercenaries who manned guns there in the 16th century to defend Henry VIII's fleet. Most of the guns had been removed by 1905. [28] It is now a popular vantage point for watching shipping traffic on the Tyne.

The Collingwood Monument

The Collingwood Monument The Collingwood Monument (geograph 2479077).jpg
The Collingwood Monument

Beyond the Battery, and commanding the attention of all shipping on the Tyne, is the giant memorial to Lord Collingwood, the Collingwood Monument. Collingwood was Nelson's second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar, who completed the victory after Nelson was killed in action. Erected in 1845, the monument was designed by John Dobson and the statue was sculpted by John Graham Lough. The figure is some 23 feet (7.0 m) tall and stands on a massive base incorporating a flight of steps flanked by four cannons from HMS Royal Sovereign – Collingwood's ship at Trafalgar. [29]

The Black Middens

These rocks in the Tyne near the Monument are covered at high water, and the one rock that can sometimes be seen then is called Priors Stone. Over the centuries they have claimed many ships whose crew "switched off" after safely negotiating the river entrance. In 1864, the Middens claimed five ships in three days with many deaths, even though the wrecks were only a few yards from the shore. In response a meeting was held in North Shields Town Hall in December 1864 at which it was agreed that a body of men should be formed to assist the Coastguard in the event of such disasters. This led to the foundation of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade. [20]

Blue Reef Aquarium

Blue Reef Aquarium Blue Reef Aquarium, Tynemouth - geograph.org.uk - 1633538.jpg
Blue Reef Aquarium

Undersea aquatic park, containing seahorses, sharks, giant octopus, frogs, otters and many other creatures. Its Seal Cove is a purpose-built outdoor facility providing an environment for a captive-bred colony of harbour seals. The 500,000-litre (110,000 imp gal; 130,000 US gal) pool includes rocky haul-out areas and underwater caves, specially created to ensure marine mammals are kept in near natural conditions.


Maintaining transport links between Tynemouth and Newcastle is Tynemouth Metro station, originally opened in 1882 as a mainline station catering for the thousands of holiday-makers who flocked to the Tynemouth beaches. Its ornate Victorian ironwork canopies have earned it Grade II listed status. They were restored in 2012, and the station now provides a venue for a weekend "flea market", book fairs, craft displays, coffee shops, restaurants, exhibitions and other events. [30]

Tynemouth is the end point for the 140-mile (230 km) long Coast to Coast Cycle Route from Whitehaven or Workington in Cumbria. [31]


In 2011, Tynemouth had a population of 67,519, compared to 17,056 a decade earlier. [32] This is mainly because of boundary changes rather than an actual population increase: for example, North Shields was a separate urban subdivision in 2001 and had a population of over 36,000. Shiremoor was also a different urban subdivision, with a population of almost 5000 in 2001. [32] The 2011 definition of the town of Tynemouth includes North Shields along with some areas in the north west of the town such as Shiremoor or West Allotment. However using 2011 methodology boundaries Tynemouth had a population of 60,881 in 2001 based on the 2011 boundaries. Thus Tynemouth has become larger in both area and population. [33]

Tynemouth compared in 2011
TynemouthNorth Tyneside
White British94.7%95.1%

[34] [35]


Tynemouth's Parish Church is the Church of the Holy Saviour in the Parish of Tynemouth Priory. It was built in 1841 [36] as a chapel of ease to the main Anglican church in the area, Christ Church, North Shields. In Front Street there were two other churches, the Catholic Parish of Our Lady & St Oswins, [37] opened in 1899, and also Tynemouth Congregational Church, which closed in 1973 [38] and is now a shopping arcade.

Notable residents

Notable visitors

Charles Dickens visited Tynemouth and wrote in a letter from Newcastle, dated 4 March 1867:

'We escaped to Tynemouth for a two hours' sea walk. There was a high wind blowing, and a magnificent sea running. Large vessels were being towed in and out over the stormy bar with prodigious waves breaking on it; and, spanning the restless uproar of the waters, was a quiet rainbow of transcendent beauty. the scene was quite wonderful. We were in the full enjoyment of it when a heavy sea caught us, knocked us over, and in a moment drenched us and filled even our pockets.'

Giuseppe Garibaldi sailed into the mouth of the River Tyne in 1854 and briefly stayed in Huntingdon Place. The house is marked by a commemorative plaque.

Lewis Carroll states in the first surviving diary of his early manhood, that he met 'three nice little children' belonging to a Mrs Crawshay in Tynemouth on 21 August 1855. He remarks: 'I took a great fancy to Florence, the eldest, a child of very sweet manners'.

Algernon Charles Swinburne arrived hot foot from Wallington Hall in December 1862 and proceeded to accompany William Bell Scott and his guests, probably including Dante Gabriel Rossetti on a trip to Tynemouth. Scott writes that as they walked by the sea, Swinburne declaimed his Hymn to Proserpine and Laus Veneris in his strange intonation, while the waves 'were running the whole length of the long level sands towards Cullercoats and sounding like far-off acclamations'.

Peter the Great of Russia is reputed to have stayed briefly in Tynemouth while on an incognito visit to learn about shipbuilding on the Tyne. He was fascinated by shipbuilding and Western life. Standing 6 feet 8 inches (203 cm) and with body-guards, he would not have been troubled by the locals. [45] [ unreliable source? ]


Mouth of Tyne festival

The Mouth of the Tyne Festival currently continues the local festival tradition. This annual free festival is held jointly between Tynemouth and South Shields and includes a world-class open-air concert at Tynemouth Priory.

Tynemouth pageant

Tynemouth Pageant is a community organisation in North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, England, devoted to staging an open-air dramatic pageant every three years in the grounds of Tynemouth Castle and Priory, by kind permission of English Heritage who run the historic monastic and defensive site at the mouth of the River Tyne. [46]

See also

Related Research Articles

Tyne and Wear Metropolitan county in North East England

Tyne and Wear is a metropolitan county in North East England, situated around the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear. It came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. It consists of the five metropolitan boroughs of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and the City of Sunderland. The county is bordered to the north by Northumberland, to the south by County Durham and to the east of the county lies the North Sea. It is the smallest county in North East England by area, but by far the largest in terms of population.

South Tyneside Metropolitan borough in England

South Tyneside is a metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, North East England. It forms part of the Tyneside conurbation.

North Tyneside Metropolitan borough in England

The Metropolitan Borough of North Tyneside is a metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, North East England. It forms a part of the greater Tyneside conurbation. The North Tyneside Council is headquartered at Cobalt Business Park, Wallsend.

South Shields Town in Tyne and Wear, England

South Shields is a coastal town at the mouth of the River Tyne, about 3.7 miles (6.0 km) downstream from Newcastle upon Tyne in north east England. Historically part of County Durham, it became part of Tyne and Wear in 1974. According to the 2011 census, the town had a population of 76,498, the third largest in Tyneside after Newcastle and Gateshead. It is part of the metropolitan borough of South Tyneside which includes the towns of Jarrow and Hebburn. South Shields is represented in Parliament by Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck. The demonym of people from South Shields is either Geordie which is used for people from Tyneside or Sandancer which is the less colloquial term for people from South Shields.

Whitley Bay Human settlement in England

Whitley Bay is a seaside town on the north east coast of England. Historically in Northumberland, it is administered as part of the borough of North Tyneside in Tyne and Wear. It has absorbed the village of Monkseaton.

Tynemouth Castle and Priory

Tynemouth Castle is located on a rocky headland, overlooking Tynemouth Pier. The moated castle-towers, gatehouse and keep are combined with the ruins of the Benedictine priory where early kings of Northumbria were buried. The coat of arms of the town of Tynemouth still includes three crowns commemorating the tradition that the Priory had been the burial place for three kings.

North Shields Human settlement in England

North Shields is a coastal town on the north bank of the River Tyne in North East England, eight miles (13 km) north-east of Newcastle upon Tyne. Historically part of Northumberland, its name derives from Middle English schele meaning "temporary sheds or huts used by fishermen".

North Shields Fish Quay

North Shields Fish Quay is a fishing port located close to the mouth of the River Tyne, in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, North East England, 8 miles (13 km) east of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Monkseaton Human settlement in England

Monkseaton is an area of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, in the North East of England. Historically in Northumberland, it is in the north-east of the borough, 34 mile (1.2 km) from the North Sea coast and 1+12 miles (2.4 km) north of the River Tyne at North Shields. A mile to the north of Monkseaton, the extensive built-up areas of North Tyneside change abruptly into green belt stretching north into south-east Northumberland. It is at an elevation of 130 feet (40 m) above sea-level.

Cullercoats Human settlement in England

Cullercoats is an urban area of North East England, with a population 9,407 in 2004. Historically in Northumberland, it has now been absorbed into the North Tyneside conurbation, sitting between Tynemouth and Whitley Bay. The population of this North Tyneside ward at the 2011 census was 9,202.

Wylam Human settlement in England

Wylam is a village and civil parish in the county of Northumberland. It is located about 10 miles (16 km) west of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Tynemouth (UK Parliament constituency)

Tynemouth is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1997 by Alan Campbell, a member of the Labour Party.

Elswick, Tyne and Wear Human settlement in England

Elswick is an area and ward of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 1.9 miles west of the city centre, bordering the River Tyne. Historically in Northumberland, Elswick became part of Newcastle in 1835. In 2018 it had an estimated population of 15,869. The usual resident population of the ward in 2011 was 13,198, 4.7% of the total population of Newcastle upon Tyne, comprising 5,116 households. The ward profile shows Elswick is the ward with the highest percentage of children under 14 years in Newcastle and has a lower than average number of senior citizens (10%) than Newcastle as a whole. Elswick has a lower than average number of houses in owner-occupation.

Preston, Tyne and Wear Human settlement in England

Preston is a suburb about a mile north of North Shields, North Tyneside. Its population was recorded at 8419 in the 2011 census. Historically a separate entity, it has slowly been absorbed into the town to the south and expanded as to form a continuous urban area north to Monkseaton.

Kings Priory School is a mixed all-through school and sixth form located in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, England. The current Principal is Mr Philip Sanderson. The school has a Christian foundation as the largest member of the Woodard Corporation, but accepts pupils of any religious background. It is located immediately to the east of Tynemouth Metro Station

"The Cliffs of Old Tynemouth" is a Geordie folk song written in the 19th century by David Ross Lietch. This song is a ballad, romanticising about one of the tourist sights of the Tyneside area.

James Shotton (1824–1896) was a North Shields born 19th-century artist. He painted a portrait of Thomas Haswell, a North Shields songwriter.

The geology of Tyne and Wear in northeast England largely consists of a suite of sedimentary rocks dating from the Carboniferous and Permian periods into which were intruded igneous dykes during the later Palaeogene Period.


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