Development of Amble
On the Ordnance Survey map of Amble in 1860 the agricultural hamlet of Amble is shown as a small group of buildings lining a bend in the road. There are two chapels (Congregational and Wesleyan Methodist), five public houses (Mason‘s Arms, Blue Bell, Fox and Hounds, Queen‘s Head and Wellwood Arms) and a smithy.
There was also a Railway Hotel in the village and a gas works, both indicating the beginning of an industrial future for the town.
Immediately to the east of the hamlet and standing in its own grounds was Amble House and its home farm. This grand house and farm was built in the eighteenth century and survived for almost two centuries before its demolition in 1970. However not all of it was cleared as the south part of its outbuildings to the home farm still survives today as the rear portion of Bede House.
The old hamlet had High Street at its centre, but by 1837 Amble had acquired an entirely new main street. This was located on a new planned site to the east of Amble House. This new main street was called Queen Street, as Queen Victoria was crowned the same year. Although most buildings in Queen Street were residential and built to a superior level of design and quality to the original village, some were built as shops and others built as, or soon becoming, public houses such as the Waterloo Inn and the Dock Hotel, both of which still survive today.
The Togston Arms was around the corner in what is now Cross Street and Amble‘s first custom-built school for boys and girls was also built not far away. Although according to the OS map the nearby Ship Inn seems to be stuck out on a limb, it was in fact placed on a chosen site in the proposed extension of Queen Street that had already been planned and laid out ready for development after 1860.
After WW2 and the closure of the coalfields, Amble was in decline. The last coal shipment was in 1969 and the staithes were cleared in 1969/70. The Metal Bridge over Dilston Terrace went in the 1970s and the Church Street Assembly Rooms in 1981. The nearby village of Radcliffe was cleared in 1971 to make way for open-cast mining of coal in the area, and its residents were moved into new public housing south of the old railway lines in Amble.
In 1964 the local council bought
farm land to the south east of
the town to develop as a visitor caravan site – this still exists today as the 5 star Links Holiday Park and, in the 1970s, the Braid was reclaimed in preparation for the development of Amble Marina. Costly repairs were also carried out to the North Pier Breakwater to help to maintain the suitability of the harbour for the fishing fleet as well as leisure boating.
Today, Amble is Northumberland's
most important fishing centre north of the River Tyne.The fishing industry survives, although with reduced numbers of vessels, as does a small marine industry - mainly concentrated around the construction and repair of yachts and other pleasure craft. Leisure sailing has also become important and, as well as the marina, the town has a vibrant yacht and boat club. A small industrial estate is located to the southwest of the town, whose clients include food processing plants, vehicle repairs and telecommunications companies. Amble also has a number of good shops including Tesco and Boots, gift shops, and many pubs and fast food outlets.
Tourism now forms an important sector of Amble’s economy. Part of the harbour was redeveloped into a marina with secure berths for 250 vessels which opened in 1987. The outer boundary of the marina incorporates one of the original timber jetties from the early harbour as part of the old river bed was reclaimed during construction. There are also several caravan parks, guest houses and B&Bs catering for the numerous visitors to the Northumberland coast.
One of the newer developments in Amble has been the Town Square which was completed in May 2001. The former British Legion Club premises was demolished and the existing road was diverted in order to build the Town Square at the end of the shopping street to provide tourist focus and a link between Queen Street and the harbour area. The Gnoman (sundial) is one of the largest in Europe and accurate to within 15 seconds.
Designs by Amble school children show the town’s history on a trail of carved stones around the square. There is also a small amphitheatre surrounded by nine 8 metre masts which often display sails and flags showing the Amble’s links with the sea and tourism and commerce. There is a feature garden which remembers Muriel Usher (a local chemist) and well known Amble resident, and two bench seats are dedicated to the memory of Dr and Mrs Robertson and Jesse Taylor. Five of the six trees are dedicated to the schools in the town and the sixth tree has been designated ‘The Town Tree’.
Amble Pier and Breakwater were
completely refurbished and work was completed early in 2000, funded by English Partnerships. The Breakwater and Pier were officially re-opened by Jack Charlton on 21 May 2000.
Amble also offers walks along the River Coquet to Warkworth and south past the harbour and Little Shore following the coastline to Hauxley with views of Coquet Island. There are nature reserves at Hauxley and Druridge Bay. The Braid is a popular open space adjacent to the marina and nearby Druridge Country Park has a lake, visitor centre, picnic areas and access to quiet sandy beaches. Finally in 2005 Amble got a swimming pool! The Town Swimming Pool is situated on the Caravan Park on Links Road behind the Granary Restaurant.
Amble is fast developing a reputation for good restaurants and the new Harbour Village development is now in progress. Despite Tesco's recent decision to pull out of their planned new supermarket development, the future of Amble is looking bright!