The town of Blyth has a long history, going back at least as far as the 12th century. Finds from the Neolithic era have been found nearby, though that in itself is no evidence of a settlement. All the same it should be exactly the sort of place that appeals to me, especially when you add in the fact that it’s located on the beautiful Northumbrian coast. Yet whenever I’ve been on that coast I’ve always felt it best to keep heading north away from Blyth.
The town was quite prosperous from the 18th century onwards with a range of trade and industry that included shipbuilding, coal mining, fishing, salt and railways. And there you see the first hint of a problem. Though these have all been vital contributors to the economy in their time, that time is firmly in the past, at least as far as the UK is concerned. Shipbuilding and coal were both casualties of the Thatcher years, fishing has been hit by dwindling stocks resulting in EU quotas (watch this space one Brexit kicks in), we’re all trying to cut back on our salt intake, and if there were ever two words guaranteed to lead to a joke in the 70’s and 80’s it was British Rail. In short, Blyth has long seen economic decline, and for many years was known for having one of the worst drug problems in the UK.
The town’s tourist website has little more to offer than the facts in the previous couple of paragraphs, so when I had to visit to collect an eBay purchase I had no real subject in mind. That meant I had to play safe and head for the coast where some long exposure photography was bound to bring results.
The multiple groynes that prevent the erosion of the beautiful sandy beach were one option, the long shot down towards St Mary’s to the south gave another, but that’s a lighthouse that we’ve already covered here so best look north where there’s a new lighthouse to add to the collection at the end of a pretty intriguing pier whose latticework topping gives it a unique aspect. This is the East Pier, a continuation of a spit of land that runs from north of the River Blyth’s mouth and provides the protection that made this such a busy port.
There’s another lighthouse in town, one of a pair of “high/low lights” similar to those at North Shields, though there’s no light left, just the tower.
Which makes it very frustrating that any references I can find to Blyth lighthouse always take me to that structure rather than the one in these pictures which was built in 1907.
Looks like I’ll have to overcome my prejudice and come back to find out more for myself!