The village was already in existence in 1325 when it was a port for fishing and trading. By the 18th century, it had become fashionable due to the trend of sea-bathing. Victorian bathers especially loved Prior’s Haven, a small beach at the mouth of the river between the Priory and the Spanish Battery.
The Front Street has a few special landmarks; one of them is a statue of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled on 25th October 1902 and was made by Alfred Turner. There is a memorial to the residents of the area who died in the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Another central memorial is made from white granite and holds the names of those lost in both the World Wars.
View of the castle and priory
Tynemouth Priory & Castle
In the 7th century, a monastery was constructed there which was called Benebalcrag by the Saxons. It was sacked by the Danes in AD800, rebuilt then sacked again in AD875. By 1083, it was running again. It was the burial site of three kings – Oswin King of Deira, Osred II King of Northumbria and Malcolm II King of Scotland. This is shown by the three crowns which shows on the North Tyneside coat of arms.
Tynemouth Priory and Castle also had some prestigious visitors; the queens of Edward I and Edward II stayed there while their husbands were in battle in Scotland. It was a particular favourite of Edward II who thought it one of the strongest in the area.
The monastery was disbanded in 1538 with the lands taken by King Henry VIII, who granted to Sir Thomas Hilton. The monastic buildings were taken apart leaving behind only the church and the Prior’s House. The castle stayed in the crown’s hands, and new fortifications were added from 1545. Gunports were added to the medieval castle, and it was the birthplace of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland in 1564 when his father was guardian of the castle.
The ruins of the church still stand on the site and beneath them is the Oratory of St Mary, also known as Percy Chapel, which has a ceiling painted with coats of arms and a small rose window above the altar.
By the 19th century, the castle was a barracks with new buildings being added but many were removed after a fire in 1936. The castle acted as a coastal defence installation for the River Tyne during World War II and is now managed by English Heritage.
Longsands is a length of 1200 yards of beach which has been voted one of the best in the country by users of TripAdvisor in 2013. It also came in at 12th best in the whole of Europe.
Tynemouth Pier runs 900 yards from the land and has a broad walkway on top which is popular for a stroll. On the lee side is a rail track which was originally used to move cargo from ships while at the seaward side stands the lighthouse. It took 40 years to build from 1854 to 1895 but was nearly immediately partially destroyed by a storm. It was rebuilt in a straighter line than the original and was finished in 1909. It guards the entrance to the River Tyne and is the mirror of the pier at South Shields.
Beyond the Spanish Battery headland is a memorial to Lord Collingwood, Nelson’s second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar. He was the man who completed the victory once Nelson was killed. The monument stands 23 feet high on a base which has steps flanked by four cannons from The Royal Sovereign, Collingwood’s ship at the battle. It was designed by John Dobson and sculpted by John Graham Lough.
The Black Middens are rocks near the Collingwood Monument vanish at high ride and have caused many crashes over the years when ships don’t realise they are there. in 1864, five ships crashed there in three days resulting in many deaths despite the closeness to shore.
View across the beach
Trip around the Aquarium
Blue Reef Aquarium
The Blue Reef Aquarium has more than just fish. It has seahorses, giant octopus and frogs but if the cold-blooded aren’t to your tastes, there are also otters. It has a purpose-built outdoor facility on the roof called Seal Cove where a captive-bred colony of harbour seals live and can be watched. It holds 500,000 litres of water as well as underwater caves and rocky haul-out areas to make the environment as natural as possible. They also have a collection of small mammals and monkeys.