Following the huge interest shown in the origin of local street names in recent Roundabout articles, I decided to take this a step further by researching some of the interesting descriptives and origins behind the local villages, place names and landmarks in the area. This series will run alphabetically throughout 2015 in both ‘Roundabout Monkseaton’ and ‘Roundabout Tynemouth’ magazines.
Backworth was an Anglo-Saxon name meaning ‘Bacca’s Farm’. There is evidence of habitation in the Backworth area from Roman times; however, the first mention appears in the late 12th Century. The early settlement consisted of two hamlets, East and West Backworth, the former of which is now represented by the modern village.
In an assessment-roll of 1292, Backworth was included as one of the ten manors belonging to Tynemouth Priory. The origins of the name are unclear, but in an 1870-72 gazetteer it was also referred to as ‘Blackworth’. Throughout the 19th and much of the 20th Century, Backworth was a centre of coal mining. The area adjacent to Backworth Village now incorporates the adjoining Moorside and Castle Park Estates, and in recent years the area has been subjected to substantial residential development.
Bates Island, sometimes referred to as Bait Island, is the rocky, tidal sandstone outcrop 2½ miles north of Whitley Bay, more commonly known as St Mary’s Island. It was originally named after Thomas Bates who owned part of the land in his capacity as land surveyor for Northumberland under Elizabeth I. Sometimes called ‘Bates or Baits Hill’, ‘Bates Island’, and occasionally ‘Bait Island’, this is probably due to a misinterpretation of the correct spelling.
Originally part of the mainland, coastal erosion has turned it into an island at high tide, and prior to the construction of a causeway in 1929, low-tide access to the island was by a series of stepping stones.
Beacon Rock is situated a few yards to the east of Cullercoats south pier and forms part of the larger outcrop known as Saddle Rocks. It is possible that long before the construction of the piers, a beacon may have been lit to guide vessels safely into Cullercoats Bay. Eventually, two red navigational beacons were erected, the first of which is situated on the headland opposite this point and the second of which is situated on a higher mast at the rear of 42 Beverley Terrace (Beacon House).
Bears Head Rock is located opposite the site of the former Beaconsfield House, near St Georges Church in Cullercoats. It is a small reef towards the northernmost part of Tynemouth Long Sands and is visible only at low tide. The City of Bristol barque ran aground and was wrecked there in 1870.
Beaumont Park Estate Although unconfirmed, it is likely that the name of this housing estate at West Monkseaton was chosen to reflect the name of a lower seam from the Northumberland Coalfield, i.e. ‘The Beaumont Seam’. There is no other obvious historical connection to such a name.
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) and ‘Tynemouth Remembered’ all published by Summerhill Books.