Alnwick, Warkworth and Amble enjoy new prosperity
PUBLISHED: 00:16 28 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:35 20 February 2013
Long the downtrodden sister, Amble is now undergoing a resurgence that Steve Newman believes will ensure the town, along with near neighbours Alnwick and Warkworth, will go to the ball
Alnwick, Amble and Warkworth have always been closely linked in some way but not many people realise that until about 200 years ago it was possible to walk from Amble to Alnwick along the banks of the River Aln.
Where the Aln today flows into the sea at Alnmouth is a result of a great storm in 1806 that breached the sand dunes and caused the river to divert
into the sea.
Up until that date the river emptied in to the Coquet at Amble and you can still walk along the old river bed, indeed part of it is now Warkworth golf course.
The site of the confluence with the Coquet is easily seen to this day and to complicate matters even further the port of Amble is officially known as Warkworth Harbour.
Perhaps the most obvious link with Alnwick and Warkworth are their castles, both having been owned by the Percys and both having played major roles in Northumberlands history. But every time you visit Warkworth youre struck by the fact that it doesnt really seem to have made up its mind whether its a village with a castle or castle with a village. All you can say is that, trapped as it is within a meander of the River Coquet, it still has a very medieval ambience that has been lost in so many other North East villages.
Well yes, we get a lot of visitors who come here for the castle and medieval bridge gatehouse, says Rod Galilee, who helps run The GreenHouse, the villages upmarket gifts and homeware
emporium. We have lived in Warkworth for ten years now and love it. There is real spirit here, especially on St Georges Day with the raft race and other events.
Alnwick too has a medieval feel to it. The Market Place in Alnwick dates back to the 1200s and over this period of time it has had a series of market crosses. The square has had a chequered history, serving as a bus station in 1930s and as a car park for much of the later part of the 20th century. Occasionally, at 8 oclock at night, the curfew bell is rung out 20 times across the square from the town hall, as it has been for centuries, and the side passages radiating of from the main street are another reminder of the towns medieval roots.
Alnwick however still has that small town flavour. Yes thats right, says photographer George Skipper, who has been here for nearly 30 years. Alnwick is a nice little town where everybody knows everybody else. You can still walk down the street and know and be stopped by so many people. There arent many married couples in the area who havent used Georges studio. Its nice to be recognized as part of the community, he says. Im even doing the weddings of daughters from couples whose weddings I took years ago.
Amble owes its growth and prosperity to the 19th century coalfields from which the coal was brought to the old staithes via a railway, to be shipped to southern England and the Continent, but as this declined so did the fortunes of the town. These days, however,
Amble has gone through something of
a rebirth and the small working fishing port is home to a close-knit but
We have had a rough time of it in the past few years, said Councillor Robert Arckless, who was born and bred in the town. Now there is definite renaissance going on here and everybody can feel it. Amble has the potential to be a major tourist attraction with the Victorian core of the town and the harbour and we do an awful lot with our young people who are the towns future.
The development of the award-winning marina has in turn brought good shops and eating places and the town boasts the Amble Sundial, which has the largest gnomon (indicator) in Europe. It also has award-winning fish and chips and, like Alnwick and Warkworth, tourism is the big draw here, especially the birdwatching trips to Coquet Island.
Boutique shops, restaurants and coffee shops now line the high street, which you would not have seen a few years ago and investment is beginning to pour into the town.
Mark Jones, proprietor of Rocca, the towns upmarket restaurant which is rapidly being hailed as on the best eating places in the North East said: Amble has tremendous potential, so much that we have bought one of the pubs and are about to open it as another venue for relaxed dining and comfortable dcor. There is a massive visitor footfall here in the summer with the harbour, boat trips and pier.
So there is no doubt that there is new golden triangle opening up in mid Northumberland and. at long last it includes not only Alnwick and Warkworth but now Amble perhaps now earning again its title as The Friendliest Port.
If you live or enjoy to visit the attractive Northumberland towns or Alnwick, Amble and Warkworth, tell us what it is that you think makes them so popular with residents and tourists alike.