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Alnmouth, The Beach, with huts | by museum 1
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Alnmouth, The Beach, with huts

Alnmouth beach, with huts and a lifebuoy pole (this latter now gone -- lifesaving equipment is unfortunately a frequent target for vandalism at British waterfronts nowadays).

 

To look at an image like this, one often thinks that the sea and beach are unchanging, but to go back in time to the Middle Stone Age (about 6000 BC), and the "North Sea" was still dry land -- a land bridge that stretched across to mainland Europe.

 

Alnmouth is a village of considerably interesting history, much of which is rarely mentioned.

 

The village map in 1860 shows oyster ponds (near where the play park is sited now), and stepping stones across the river. Whatever happened to those stepping stones ?

 

In 1869 the Duke of Northumberland ordered a cottage to be built on "Church Bank", by the old cemetery which had been cut off by the shifting of the course of the River Aln. Built on a sandbank, and using only Portland cement concrete, I can find no further information on this structure.

 

In 1913, a goods train wreck near Alnmouth Station saw a 600-gallon tank of creosote damaged, resulting in percolation of the creosote into the River Aln and down into the sea. Hundreds of dead salmon and yellow trout were found along that affected length of river, with it taking nearly four years to recover to its previous angling standard.

 

Later in 1913, a record was set for a cross-country flight over Britain, with one passenger, by Capt Longcroft of the Royal Flying Corps, who flew from Farnborough to Montrose, stopping only to land at Alnmouth for fuel. Where did he land and take fuel on in 1913 ? His B.E.2a biplane would easily have been able to land in a field -- or did it land on the beach as other planes have been known to do ?

 

Of course, no history snippets would be complete without returning to the sea and the people of Alnmouth -- in 1926 two women from just up the coastline at Boulmer went down to London as guests of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, to receive the testimonial of thanks from the RNLI, to all of the 35 women of Boulmer village for their acts of gallantry.

 

Miss Stephenson and Mrs Stanton were eventually prevailed upon to relate the tale -- in the face of a howling storm of hail and snow these 35 women (along with the men of the lifeboat crew) dragged their lifeboat a mile and a quarter over shingle at two o'clock in a morning of December 1925, with the horses refusing to assist, and two women being carried home having been overcome with cold and exhaustion; the rest remaining until noon -- up to their knees in wet sand and mud, lashed by the icy sea waters.

Only to find that they couldn't launch the boat.

The crew went along to Alnmouth and went out in that lifeboat, assisting the stricken steamer "Amble" which had been blown onto the rocks off Alnmouth.

 

The greatest pride taken by the two ladies when interviewed by journalists was in the fact that there were nine Stephensons and seven Stantons in the crew of that lifeboat, and that every coxswain but one since the establishment of the lifeboat 100 years previously had been a Stephenson !

  

All towns and villages have interesting tales to tell -- but Alnmouth often seems to have just that little bit more than the rest !

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Taken on September 6, 2014