The History of Blyth Town
A timeline of major events that have occurred in the history of Blyth Town. Links to articles on our website will be associated with events on the timeline.
1100s - The beginnings of Blyth’s port is first chronicled in the 12th century - [Read More]
1130 - First confirmed reference of the place-name of ‘Blida’ taken from the river of the same name. The river-name comes from the old English word ‘blithe’ which translated means ‘gentle’ or ‘merry’. As the English language evolved the place name also changed from Blithe through several incarnations and eventually to Blyth.
1208 - First chronicle of a town in the Blyth Town area.
1236 - The town of Blyth is referred to as ‘Blithmuth’.
1250 – The town is now referred to under the slightly altered name of ‘Blithemuth’. If the name had persisted as it had in the case of Tynemouth, Bournemouth and the many other river mouth named towns of the UK, Blyth would today be referred to as ‘Blythmouth’.
1730 - Formal construction of harbour finished.
1788 - ‘High Light’ Lighthouse built, located in Bath Terrace. 2 more additions were made to it over the years.
1810 – Development of Cowpen Quay area.
1815 - Waterloo Road area development.
1847 - Railway between Blyth and Seghill collieries constructed. The original Blyth Railway Station was opened on March 3rd 1847 in Croft Street (now King Street).
1854 - Blyth Harbour and Docks Board formed.
1858 - Harbour Act – This allowed dredging to begin.
1863 - South Blyth Local Board formed. The South Beach Local Board took over duties from the Parish council for the day to day running of the town.
1864 - Cowpen Local Board formed.
1867 – Blyth Railway Station relocated to the north end of Turner Street (now part of Regent Street).
1876 – The Last salt pan of Blyth was destroyed. This ended the salt industry in Blyth after centuries as one of Blyth’s principal industries.
1882 - Blyth Harbour Commission formed.
1890’s - Filling in of the ‘Slake’, the tidal inlet that separated Blyth from Cowpen. Access was possible via Waterloo Bridge.
1896 – Blyth Railway Station rebuilt due to an increase in passenger and goods traffic. The Railway Station had originally been planned to be relocated again to newly reclaimed land on what is now Bridge Street, between Union Street and Beaconsfield Street, however there were objections to the proposed station’s proximity to the Thomas Knight Memorial Hospital due to the noise the station would generate.
1899 - Blyth Spartans founded by Mr Fred Stoker – [Read More]
Late 19th C - Blyth Coastal defence Battery constructed.
1904 - Blyth Ridley Park created.
1913 - On the 7th of November 1913, Blyth Shipping Company began construction of the Royal Navy’s first Aircraft Carrier the HMS Ark Royal at Blyth shipyards, designated a Seaplane Carrier for the way in which it launched and retrieved it's planes. The ship was originally planned to be a Tramp Steamer merchant ship but was acquired by the Royal Navy in May 1914 shortly after her keel had been laid down.
1914 – On the 5th of September 1914 the HMS Ark Royal was launched from Blyth Shipyards. The ship would carry on under the name HMS Pegasus from December 21st 1934 until she was sold in 1946 when it was renamed to the SS Anita. The ship would finally be sold for scrap in 1950 after it was seized for debts in 1949 from Compania de Navigation Ellanita.
1915 - During the first world war, it is reported that a German Navy Zeppelin made land fall on June 15th North of Blyth near the River Wansbeck, the Zeppelin is reported to have moved South before famously releasing it's payload of high explosives and incendiary devices upon the Palmers Works in Jarrow.
1916 - On the night of April 2nd, three of four German Zeppelins sent by the German Navy to attack the docklands along the Firth of Forth, arrived in Great Britain. Whilst two of the Zeppelins famously arrived in Edinburgh and after being driven off from the docklands devastated the city in one of the first world war's most devastating aerial attacks, one of the four Zeppelins made land fall in Blyth unloading it's payload of high explosives and incendiary devices in the fields on the town's outskirts. It is believed the Zeppelin was lost as at the time the great airships relied on observers following features and landmarks for navigation.
1920s+30s - Development of new housing estates on the outskirts of Blyth.
1956 - Closure of passenger services to Bebside Train Station.
1964 – Closure of the Newsham and Blyth Town Centre Train Stations to passengers.
1965 - Railway into Blyth closed following the “Beeching Report” in 1963, although large scale national closures had been occurring throughout the 1950s before the “Beeching Report” until the mid 1970s. This began the decline in coal shipping at the port.
1967 - Blyth Shipyard closed. At the time of its closure the Shipyards had been regarded as the ‘Largest Shipyard on the North-East Coast’.
1971 - The Staithes on North Blyth were famously used in the chase scene in the Michael Caine film ‘Get Carter’.
1972 – Demolition of Blyth Railway Station, the station would later become the site for a Supermarket in the town centre which would go through various incarnations. Over the next few decades the Presto Supermarket chain as part of the Allied Suppliers and the Argyll brands would eventually be renamed to Safeway before the chain was eventually bought out by Morrisons who chose to retain the Blyth store.
1974 - Local government reorganisation saw the joining together of the Borough of Blyth, Seaton Valley District Council and part of Whitley Bay Urban District Council to form the Borough of Blyth Valley as a Local government district and the formation of the Blyth Valley Borough Council.
1986 - Closure of Bates Colliery: This ended the long tradition of coal-mining in the borough and with it a strengthening of the Council's Economic Development Strategies in a resolve to bring new employment to the town.
1991 – The Keel Row Shopping Centre opened. Many derelict and old buildings were cleared away to make way for the development which brought in many large high street retailers into the town for the first time.
2002 - Blyth Power Station closed down.
2003 - The Spirit of the Staithes sculpture was officially unveiled on Blyth's Quayside by Princess Anne on 28th of May. Created by the artist Simon Packard the statue stands at 15 metres high and 7 metres wide and can be viewed from the round about coming from Ridley Avenue & Plessey Road to the Quayside as a coal train representing Blyth's Coal heritage.
2004 - The Wallaw Cinema, Blyth’s last cinema, was closed down.
2005 - A referendum was held in which the population of Northumberland voiced their opinion via a vote on the restructuring of the local government in Northumberland. The vote ultimately proved that the centralisation of the two tier district & county governance to a one tier Unitary Authority for the whole County of Northumberland to be unpopular.
2009 - In March 2009, Blyth Market place is officially reopened after being closed for 10 months in a £3 million revamp that includes the erection of a new column incorporating lighting effects by Simon Watkinson. The artwork officially called the Hyperscope was designed to represent Blyth's coal mining heritage and wartime contribution as a submarine base.
2009 - In April 2009, Blyth Valley Borough was abolished as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England despite the results in the 2005 referendum. The move abolished the two tier local government to a one tier system and the council was replaced with Northumberland County Council, the Unitary Authority for the county of Northumberland. The naming of the council was put to the people of Northumberland and it was decided that the new Unitary Authority Council would assume the name of the previous County Council rather than the suggested name of Northumberland Council via online polls by a ratio of 2:1.