Rocky Island: From the 17th to the 19th centuries, Seaton Sluice was a thriving seaport with the harbour being used for exports of glass and coal, as well as some shipbuilding. Eventually the old basin could not cope with the increasing volume of trade and, in 1761, work began on a new harbour.
This involved making a cut eastward through the solid rock of the old harbour, with gates at both ends, to give an additional harbour entrance and a deep water dock where vessels could be loaded at any state of the tide. The original entrance was used in stormy weather, the new cut when the weather was moderate. Until the establishment of “The Cut” in 1764, Rocky Island was an part of the mainland of Seaton Sluice, adjacent to the site of The Kings Arms, before becoming a man-made island adopting this name. A narrow walkway bridge connects the ‘island’ to the mainland.
Royal Quays: In the late 1870s work began on a new dock to meet the needs for incoming goods to the River Tyne and to increase coal shipping facilities on the north side of the river.
The opening ceremony was performed in 1884 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Originally proposed as Coble Dene Dock, it became the Albert Edward Dock in honour of the prince, later King Edward VII. In recent years, as local industries ran into decline, the docks were converted into a private marina. Much of the surrounding area was redeveloped with housing and given the name of the Royal Quays, in keeping with the royalty who opened the original docks.
Ridges Estate: This name derives from the former Ridges Farm and its lands upon which the estate was built. In the 1960s the local council had concerns that the name had developed a social stigma, resulting in the name change to the Meadowell Estate in 1969.
River Tyne: The name ‘Tyne’ is an ancient Celtic river name which occurs more than once in the British Isles. It may simply mean river.
St. Marys Island: Originally Bait or Bates Island, the island has a dark and varied history and there are indications that it was used by the Monks of Tynemouth Priory during the 7th Century. A chapel dedicated to St. Helen was constructed in the late eleventh century. Within the chapel sanctuary was the Lady Light, also known as St. Katherine’s Light, which was wrongly ascribed to St. Mary – hence the name.
Saddle Rocks are situated to the south of Cullercoats Bay and form part of the rocky outcrop at the north section of Tynemouth Longsands.
Sandy Island: Not an island as such, but simply a reference to the area west of and opposite Rocky Island. The most prominent feature of modern day Sandy Island is the Ballast Hill, formed when ships’ ballast was unloaded when they returned from delivering bottles and coal etc.
by Charlie Steel © 2015
Further reading for many of Charlie’s articles can be found in his books: ‘Monkseaton Village’ (Vol. 1 & 2), ‘North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns’ (Part 1 & 2), ‘Tynemouth Remembered’ and ’Whitley Bay Remembered’ (Part 1) , all published by Summerhill Books.