Stone might have helped to save lives

Golden Sands Holiday Park at Cresswell.
Golden Sands Holiday Park at Cresswell.

We’ve already looked round Snab Point, but before we go, there’s a small standing stone in the field near the former coastguard station.

It’s about 20ft from what looks like a telegraph pole, which I think had something to do with a volunteer life brigade. If so, the stone was a marker, rather like the oche in darts. I suppose somebody climbed the pole to represent a sailor on a wrecked ship, and brigade members threw the rope to him.

A marker post on the Druridge walk.

A marker post on the Druridge walk.

John Young and Rodney Burge, of the Amble lifeboat, gave a talk recently to Morpeth Methodist Church’s men’s breakfast group.

It appears that posts like this were used within living memory for practising with rocket apparatus, which, of course, would reach much further than 20ft.

I don’t know if there was ever a rocket apparatus at Cresswell, but this little stone suggests that they practised throwing the line in case a stranded vessel came near enough.

The house in the distance was the coastguard’s house.

A crab fisherman on the rocks at Druridge.

A crab fisherman on the rocks at Druridge.

On its other side is an old quarry, the stone from which was used to build Cresswell Hall in the 1820s. It wasn’t used for the finest work, but for the insides of the walls, where it didn’t show.

It didn’t make much difference in the end. Little over a century later, Cresswell Hall was demolished due to mining subsidence, and all that’s left now are the stable block and the arcade.

The former coastguard site is properly known as Quarry Point. Beautiful as it is, there are disadvantages to living on a cliff. In the 1990s, the coastal authorities between the Scottish border and the Tyne (Berwick, Alnwick, Castle Morpeth, Wansbeck, Blyth Valley, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils) commissioned a survey to guide the future planning of coastal defences and flood protection, known as the Northumberland shoreline management plan.

It was updated in 2009 by the Dutch-based consultancy Royal Haskoning. Its report says: “Snab Point comprises a mixture of rock and till slopes, and recent works have been undertaken privately to stabilise one section of this, aiming to protect a property behind.

The quarry near Snab Point.

The quarry near Snab Point.

“There are several other properties set back further from the coastal edge.”

The land behind Snab Point proper is simply a grass field, so this must refer to the hamlet on Quarry Point.

The fishing cobles of Cresswell are long gone, but commercial fishing on a small scale is alive and well.

The gentleman in our picture has crab pots set among the rocks of the foreshore, and here you see him with his dog just visible as a white spot on the left.

Opposite the former coastguard station is the Golden Sands Holiday Park.

It has more than 400 caravans on site, with mains electricity and every home comfort. Its history goes back, however, to the 1848 Public Health Act and eventually, as the sanitary movement gained momentum, to the setting up of Morpeth Rural Sanitary Authority in 1873, which in 1894 became Morpeth Rural District Council.

Cresswell has been a holiday resort since the 1920s.

There were never any great hotels or guesthouses, but cars and motor cycles enabled people to spend summer weekends in caravans or holiday bungalows, many of which had no proper water supply or sanitation.

In 1950, Cresswell Parish Council suggested a site for caravans, which was duly put to the council’s health committee. However, vice-chairman Coun Mrs G Reed reported that the moveable dwellings sub-committee had inspected the area and were of the opinion that the old Evening World Camp would provide an even better site. Hello, Golden Sands.