Where is Newbiggin by the Sea?

SunriseNewbiggin by the Sea is located in southeast Northumberland, on England's north east coast. 

The area to the north is known as the Northumbrian Heritage Coast, and boasts exquisite beaches, bays and lovely seaside villages, including Craster, Alnmouth and Seahouses. The County has over fifty of the country's finest historic castles, amongst them Bamburgh, Alnwick and Lindisfarne on Holy Island.  To the south, only a half hour's journey away, is Sunderland, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Gateshead Metro Centre. To the west, Hadrian's Wall and Hexham.  Being one of England's Border Counties, Scotland is only a short journey, and Edinburgh is easily accessible within an hour and a half's drive.

Ancient History  

Newbiggin by the Sea has a long and interesting history. The area has a wide variety of archeological features that take date back to the earliest of times.  Large numbers of Mesolithic flint tools have been found in Newbiggin bay.  In medieval times Newbiggin by the Sea features prominently in history books.  Notably The Church of St Bartholomew, recognizable for miles along the coastline, standing on the headland, has its origins in early medieval times.  The village had its own charter and was a thriving port.  Historical documents record that there was a pier and remains of a hospital (with coffins) were found in the 1920’s.  Traces of the layout of the medieval village can also be seen in burgage plots that run off Front Street.

There's Something Fishy About This Place

CoblesFishing has always been a part of village life.  The first recorded evidence was in 1199, when Eustace Balliol confirmed his grandfather’s grant in 1138 of a toft in Newbiggin by the Sea to the monks of Newminster abbey.  A toft was a homestead, indicating the serfdom of medieval fisherman of the area.  Newbiggin by the Sea also has strong links to John De Balliol who played an important role in the development of Oxford University.

Fishing expanded rapidly in the village from the middle of the 19th century to the start of the First World War, which was the era of the herring boom.  In 1869, 142 cobles, or fishing boats, were recorded in the village.  The village also has had a long association with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and boasts the oldest active Lifeboat House in the country, built in 1851.  Today seven cobles still sail out of Newbiggin by the Sea.

Black Gold

Most of the post medieval history of Newbiggin by the Sea has been dominated by coalmining.  Newbiggin by the Sea had its own mine, which closed in 1967.  At its peak in the 1920’s over 1,200 men were employed there.  The development of the mine led to the “colliery” part of the village being developed and despite the colliery closing many years ago the area is still known as that today.

A Place To Holiday

Church and BoatNewbiggin by the Sea was a thriving seaside resort for the wealthy businessmen, of the Edwardian and Victorian era, from industrialized areas of Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland.  The arrival of the railway in the 19th century and the building of Newbiggin Railway Station also helped its growth.  The village today also boasts two Holiday Parks, one at Church Point and one at Sandy Bay to the south of the village.

A Long History Of Churches

Throughout the years the Churches in the village have also played an important role in every day life.  St Mark’ United Reformed Church, St Andrews Methodist Church and the Salvation Army Hall are all landmarks on the Front Street of the village.  The street leads to St Bartholomew’s Church on the point, which is a very well known landmark.

Decline and Regeneration

Up to the 1960’s and early 1970’s Newbiggin by the Sea was still a popular destination.  However, unfortunately the village went into decline, mostly due to the decline of its traditional industries of fishing and coal mining.  The picturesque beach which charecterised the bay was also lost, partly due to the detrimental effects of coal mining.

However, the strong community spirit has prevailed together with a will to see improvements.  In recent years a number of regeneration initiatives and improvements have been made. 

A Bright Future

Beach BoatsIn 2004 the first new housing was developed for a number of years with more sites soon to be developed.  A number of environmental improvements have taken place, such as the entrance to the village from Woodhorn, and more are planned.   In October 2005 it was announced that a £10m scheme to develop an offshore breakwater and beach restoration project, will commence in the spring of 2007.   A new Visitor and Heritage Centre is also planned.

So in the past Newbiggin by the Sea has been an interesting and attractive place to live, work or visit. The future looks like it could be just as interesting too!