It was on 6th August 1849 that Tynemouth was granted a Charter of Incorporation and became a ‘County Borough’, which consolidated the neighbouring townships of Preston, Chirton, New York, North Shields and Cullercoats.
As a result, a new Coat of Arms was designed. This design has been in use since 1849 and is still evident in many places locally.
It was commonly found on school reports, corporation documents, public notices, souvenir trinkets and on the badges of various official employees to name but a few.
THE SHIELD at the centre of the Coat of Arms was that of the Prior of Tynemouth.
THE THREE CROWNS These are actually depicted as coronets, and represent three ancient kings buried in the grounds of the priory, namely Oswin (651 AD) Osred (792 AD) and Malcolm (1093 AD)
THE SHIP Sailing above the crest is a ship in full sail, indicative of the importance of both the River Tyne and the accompanying sea trade over the years.
THE PITMAN Mining was first undertaken by the Monks of Tynemouth, and continued as an important trade in the area, so a pitman was chosen as a ‘bearer’ for the left side of the crest.
THE SEAMAN Likewise, much of the local trade involved fishing and maritime activities, so a seaman was chosen as a bearer for the right side of the crest.
THE MOTTO: MESSIS AB ALTIS This motto in Latin tells us why the pitman and the seaman were chosen as the bearers on the coat of arms of Tynemouth Borough. The pitman worked deep below the surface, tunnelling coal from the ground (Preston and Chirton Collieries), while the seaman or fisherman pulled fish from the depths of the sea (Cullercoats and North Shields) – hence the motto, whose literal translation is ‘Harvest from the Deep’.
The County Borough of Tynemouth survived for 125 years until it was absorbed within the new North Tyneside Council in 1974.
The historic Coat of Arms soon disappeared from use, however some elements of the design have since been adapted and incorporated within the present Coat of Arms for North Tyneside.
by Charlie Steel © 2014
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.