rcdhn

Our Lady & St. Wilfrid, Blyth and St. Cuthbert, Cowpen Roman Catholic Churches

History of Blyth...

History of Blyth

Records indicate that the harbour was in use in medieval times and that the town of Blyth was first chronicled in 1208. The town took its name from the River Blyth. The word Blyth is said to mean 'white water'.

A sandy strip of land which then jutted out into the bay of the river from the links to the south was the beginning of the town.

Blyth was then, and for centuries after, cut off from Cowpen. A tidal inlet, running parallel to the river from its bend to the south, covered what is now Cowpen Quay, Post Office Square and Beaconsfield Street, and ran down behind Crofton Mill Pit.

On this narrow strip of land, bound almost entirely by water at high tide, there were a few salt pans at which valuable salt was produced by evaporating sea water. Around them were one or two cottages, the homes of a few fishermen and those who tended the pans.

The construction of a formal harbour was complete in 1730 with a coaling quay, a ballast quay, a pilots watch house and a lighthouse. The first breakwater was built in 1765 and the first staith with an elevated loading point in 1788. The growth of the port into a modern harbour began with the incorporation of commissioners in 1882 enabling the port to be developed in the form of a Trust.

Prior to 1907, two market places were in operation, one at Cowpen - so named from the ancient art of 'couping' or bartering and the second at Blyth. After 1907 the market was established as it is today.

Also a famous submarine base in two World Wars, the service was granted the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Blyth Valley in 1979 with the honour conveyed upon HMS Onslaught, an 'O'Class Submarine - now sadly out of service and broken up.

A tradition on board was that the ship's bell was used for christenings of the children of the commander of the day. When she was broken up this bell was presented to Blyth Valley Council and it resides in the Mayor's Parlour in the Civic Centre in Blyth. The names of children and dates of their christenings can be seen engraved inside the bell.

Traditional industries through the centuries of shipbuilding, coal-mining, foundry work dominated and the shipyard at Blyth was renowned as the largest in the North East until its closure in 1967. The second Ark Royal having been built at Blyth in 1914.

In 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.

The closure of Bates Colliery in 1986 ended the long tradition of coal-mining in the borough with it a strengthening of the council's Economic Development strategies in a resolve to bring new employment to the town.

The closure of the colliery also brought with it the demise of the Cowpen and Crofton Miners' Welfare on Renwick Road in the Town completed in 1925 which had been the social centre for the mining community and which had been paid for by subscriptions deducted from the wages of the mining fraternity.

However, the Council, seeing the need to bring several of its departments together, bought the building and extended it to suit the needs of a modern day Civic Centre. The building was officially opened on 8th June 1990 by Neil Kinnock M.P. the then Leader of Opposition. He viewed it as a most marvellous way of preserving and enhancing a lovely old building rather than going down the road of new build as so many other authorities had done.

The opening of the Keel Row Shopping Centre in 1990 brought major high street retailers to the town to join those rather more local and traditional traders and the busy market place in the centre of town which operates on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year.

An exciting feature of the east bank pier of the river Blyth is the Windfarm. Nine windmills generate electricity linked to the National Grid.

Blyth is a vibrant parish with many groups actively practising their faith in bringing Christ to others in a practical way as well as spiritually enhancing the people they come into contact with.

Blyth is a sea port on the North East Coast of England. Our branch of the Apostleship of the Sea is thriving with many visits being made to the crew members of the ships using the port.

The Justice and Peace group is very active and is always looking for more members to assist them in their work.

Our SVP members are always at the forefront of events taking place in the parish and are very active.

Ours is a large parish with one community comprising Blyth and Cowpen and two churches, served by two Parish Priests; it caters for all ages in many, many different ways.

We would love you to come to any of our services - please see the Mass Times page for details of days and times.

Blyth Harbour Tug circa. 1920 Blyth Waterloo Road circa. 1900 Blyth Marketplace circa. 1910  Blyth Ridley Park circa. 1910 Blyth Harbour & Town c1850

Blyth Harbour Tug c1920
Blyth Waterloo Road c 1900
Blyth Market Place c1910
Blyth Ridley Park c 1910
Blyth Harbour & Town c 1850
Blyth harbour & lighthouse

Blyth Harbour & Lighthouse 
(Recent Times)

Blyth Pier Black n White

Blyth Pier taken in 2008