The thought of a trip to Whitley Bay was enough to get any ‘Geordie bairn’s’ heart racing (Geordie is the nickname for residents of Newcastle and the surrounding area, and ‘bairns’ are children)! Just a little reminiscing – donkey rides, amusements, lovely beaches, a funfair, candy floss, St Mary’s Island (more of which later), long promenades……the list is endless. But wait! It’s not so different now!
First a little history, which goes back to the 12th century. Whitley Bay is an extension of nearby Cullercoats, a fishing village. Cullercoats became popular as a bathing place, and it grew until it became the town of Whitley Bay. The Victorians made it even more popular and it’s not difficult to see why, with its lovely beaches and long promenades. Whitley Bay grew and became a favourite holiday destination for a very long time, even rivalling Blackpool. Whitley Bay, like Blackpool, benefited from the famous (or infamous) Glasgow fortnight, when all major industries closed for their annual holiday, and whole (extended) families decamped to Whitley Bay to stay in boarding houses and caravan parks. They were attracted, like everyone else, to the wonderful beaches, the Spanish City amusement park, cafes, shops and inexpensive accommodation.
In the 1960s things started to change. When holidays abroad became more affordable our resorts were abandoned by many who favoured a more reliable climate.
Today, Whitley Bay is again favoured as a holiday resort or a venue for short breaks. There’s still plenty to do, from the traditional seaside pursuits such as bathing and amusements, to touring the surrounding area. The Spanish city fairground is no more, but the famous dome is being refurbished and will open as a tourist information centre and swimming pool. The library may also be rehoused there.
Whether you enjoy a relaxing holiday or you like to party, Whitley Bay has it all. It has a very lively nightlife and is popular with stag and hen parties. At weekends and on Bank Holidays people come from all over the UK to have a good time.
If you like to incorporate a little culture into your holiday, check out the Whitley Bay Playhouse, which has recently been renovated. It holds an audience of 630, has a corporate suite, bars and fantastic sea views. It boasts a very varied programme, so you’re sure to find something you like. It is also the place to catch the Whitley Bay Arts Group which you can see throughout the year.
Oh, yes – St Mary’s Island!
This is two miles north of Whitley Bay on the road to Blyth which can be seen clearly from Whitley Bay seafront. It is a part time island which becomes cut off by the incoming tide. It features a decommissioned lighthouse which you can visit, and even climb to the top. Admission charges apply. They also have ‘Rockpool Rambles’ in the school holidays for which a small charge applies. The island now has charitable status.
So, head to Whitley Bay – it’s full of surprises!