Beadnell’s history and heritage put in print

Katrina Porteous with her book 'Limekilns and Lobsterpots' which is about Beadnell.

Katrina Porteous with her book 'Limekilns and Lobsterpots' which is about Beadnell.

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WITH its beautiful sandy beach and large number of holiday homes, it is easy to forget that Beadnell has a long and fascinating history dating back over 1,000 years.

In ‘Limekilns and Lobsterpots - A Walk Around Old Beadnell’, however, local historian Katrina Porteous unveils the village’s rich heritage and reveals some of its secrets.

For example, if you’ve ever wondered why Beadnell church is so far from the harbour or how the Craster Arms, Dell Point and the Benty got their names then this new book is for you.

It also acts as a guide for a walk of two to three miles taking in fishermen and fisherlasses, farm labourers and ‘bondagers’, saints, priests, a princess, quarries, coalmines, smugglers and shipwrecks.

Katrina said: “I’ve been doing research into Beadnell’s history for much of the 25 years I’ve lived here so it’s nice to be able to record those findings in this book, the first of its kind on Beadnell.

“People might be surprised to know how much industry there has been in its past including quarrying, lime burning, coal mining, farming and, of course, fishing.

“It’s that which has taken my specific interest. We know that coble fishing in Beadnell dates back to the 13th century and now, in our lifetime, we are seeing it coming to an end which is something I think we should be taking note of.

“Here in Northumberland we put a lot of emphasis on our heritage such as castles, abbeys and even our limekilns but fishing is just as important because it is part of our culture.”

Katrina, perhaps best known for her poetry, has spoken to many of Beadnell’s older residents to record their memories. Over 100 old photographs also feature in the book.

“I’d like to thank the community for helping me with my research and for all the stories and photographs they’ve shared with me,” said Katrina. “I’m so grateful to them, in particular all the Beadnell fishermen and the late May Douglas, who was my first inspiration back in 1990.”

At the end of the 19th century, Beadnell was a village of just 67 households with nothing between the ‘toon’ and harbour except three small clusters of cottages scattered along the seafront - very different today when there are around 450 homes, more than half of which are second homes.

The guided tour of why Beadnell developed this way begins in Beadnell’s car park, taking walkers to the harbour and limekilns, Ebb’s sneuk, The Benty, Dell Point and the Windmill Steads area, Beadnell Haven, The Bullring, Beadnell Hall, St Ebba’s Church, the top of the village and the caravan site.

Along the way it provides interesting details of old buildings including herring houses, huts and shiels, bark pots and red sails.

“Over the last 250 years, Beadnell has witnessed great changes,” says Katrina. “The noise, dust and smoke of its quarrying, coal mining and lime burning industries in the 18th century, and the sheer numbers of incoming boats and people involved in the herring industry at times during the 19th century, meant it was not always the peaceful rural village which some imagine.”

The text of Limekilns and Lobsterpots is based on one of a series of ‘Local Heritage Walks’ led by Katrina and former National Trust archaeologist Harry Beamish for Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership between 2006 and 2010. Medieval research was done in collaboration with Dr Adrian Osler, formerly of Tyne and Wear Museums.

Limekilns and Lobsterpots – a Walk Around Old Beadnell is published by Windmillsteads Books, an imprint of Jardine Press. ISBN 978-0-9565495-5-6. Price £7.99. It is available from the Towers Hotel, Beadnell, Cubby’s Newsagent, Seahouses, and from Barter Books, Alnwick.

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