Tyne and Wear HER(7098): Cullercoats village - Details
Cullercoats is just over 300 years old. The village was initially known as "Culfre-cots". "Culfer" is Anglo-Saxon for dove and "cots" is plural for house. The name in translation is therefore Dove Cote or Dove House. The monks of Tynemouth Priory owned the land where Cullercoats now stands, along with Marden Mill (HER 739) on the Marden Burn, which existed in 1295. The mill stood on the site now occupied by the fishermen's mission. In C16 it was in the tenure of Robert and John Dove at a yearly rent of £9 8d. The monks of Tynemouth kept pigeons for food and it is possible that this is where the name came from. Coal was worked from drift mines in the area from 1315. There appears to have been no established settlement at Cullercoats until a plan of 1600 which shows two acres of enclosed pasture called Culvercoats. In 1606 Ralph Delaval surrendered land at "Culler Corners" to his brother Peter. The place was then known as Arnold's Close or Marden Close, and its boundaries were the same as the modern village. In 1621 Thomas Dove of Whitley bought the land. The Dove family started a Quaker movement at Cullercoats, setting up a burial ground by 1662. In 1676 Thomas Dove became one of the partners in Whitley Colliery. The following year a wooden pier was built at Cullercoats to export coal. In the same year the first two salt pans (HER 5480) were started at Cullercoats Bay. In 1677 John Dove built a wagonway to serve the Whitley and Monkseaton Colleries which terminated at the bank top where the Watch House is situated today. It was one of the earliest wagonways in Northumberland. In 1682 the Dove family built a large Jacobean house which became locally known as Sparrow Hall. Cullercoats was made a distinct township in 1690. The coal and salt trade flourished - 17 salt pans were added to the original two. Salt making established Cullercoats as an important place. The commercial prosperity was short-lived. In 1724 the colleries closed and salt exports ceased in 1725 when the pans were moved to Blyth. The first public house, The Ship Inn (HER 7081) was built on Front Street in 1746. The small harbour at Cullercoats had its own registered sailing ships. The "Triton" was lost in 1755 en route to Hamburg with ballast. By the mid C18 Cullercoats was a "sleepy hamlet". Most residents were fishermen and fishwives whilst others turned to smuggling (see HER 7084). In the early C19 the colleries reopened. In 1807 Richard Armstrong built the salt water baths (HER 5058). Dove Cottage or Sparrow Hall had stood alone for about one hundred years, but gradually fishermen's cottages were built, such as Nos. 27-33 Front Street. No. 26 was a large three storey bakery (later a drapers). Brown's Buildings (HER 7088) were built in 1838. In 1848 the piers (HER 5056) were rebuilt. In 1850 a school (HER 7094) was built in Back Lane. By 1861 the total population of Cullercoats was 660. Cullercoats is renowned for its link with the lifeboat service. The Watch House (HER 5057) was built in 1879. The lifeboat station in 1896 (HER 2215). Cullercoats was made famous by the paintings of American watercolour artist Winslow Homer, who stayed there in 1881 (see HER 7081). The church (HER 7096) was built in 1882. By 1899 Cullercoats was a popular holiday destination.
R. Wright, 2002, The People's History - Cullercoats; Archaeological Services University of Durham, 2005, Cliff House, Cullercoats - desk-top assessment and building survey; Tony Harrison, Winslow Homer in Cullercoats (typescript); History of Northumberland, Victoria County Histories Vol VIII pp 280-4; W.W. Tomlinson, 1893, Historical Notes on Cullercoats, Whitley and Monkseaton; Illustrated Catalogue of Winslow Homer's English Works; Archaeological Services University of Durham, 2004, The Bay Hotel, Cullercoats - archaeological desk-top assessment and building recording;