Former Fisherman's Cottage


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
The Cottage, St. Marys Island, Whitley Bay, NE26 4RS


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Statutory Address:
The Cottage, St. Marys Island, Whitley Bay, NE26 4RS

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Tyneside (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A mid C19 former fisherman's cottage converted to an inn, and in the later C19 to a temperance hotel. Forms part of a compact group also comprising a lighthouse, Keepers' cottages and compound walls, situated on St Mary’s Island, a tidal island off Whitley Bay, accessed by a causeway at low tide.

Reasons for Designation

This mid C19 former fisherman’s cottage, later and inn and temperance hotel, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic Interest: as the earliest surviving building on the island and for its historic associations with the establishment of the adjacent lighthouse; * Architectural Interest: the original plan of the fisherman's cottage remains readable within the evolved building, which also has intrinsic merit as an inn and temperance hotel retaining a number of historic features; * Group value: the mid-C19 stone built fisherman's cottage has a spatial relationship with the lighthouse, which taken together form a discreet group of attractive buildings reflecting the C19 and C20 maritime history of this small tidal island.


In 1855, a fisherman called George Ewen from Aberdeen, holder of the salmon fishing rights, built a small cottage on St Mary's Island, with the help of Lord Hastings of Delaval. This cottage was a simple two-roomed dwelling of 'but and ben' form. In 1861, the cottage was extended to the north by the addition of a barrel room and washing room, and probably at about the same time it was extended to the south by the addition of a third ground floor room. In 1862 the cottage operated as an inn called 'The Freemason's Arms', known locally as 'The Square and Compass'. In 1895, John Crisp moved into the cottage and reopened it as a temperance hotel. One of the first hotel guests was a Trinity House Surveyor who stayed for a week to survey the island with the help of John Crisp, and in the autumn of the following year, work started on the building of the adjacent lighthouse. Photographs taken before and during construction of the lighthouse also depict the cottage which retains its original thatched roof, with a pair of roof dormer windows. At the formal opening of the lighthouse in 1898 the evening was rounded off with supper and speeches in John Crisp's adjacent cottage. During the 1930s the cottage roof was raised resulting in the loss of the original thatch and three new dormer windows inserted in order to facilitate refurbishment of the upper floor and the insertion of a new staircase. Also during the C20 a rear outshut was added.


MATERIALS: coursed random rubble sandstone with a brick L-shaped range to the north and tiled roofs.

PLAN: rectangular main building with an L-shaped range to the north.

EXTERIOR: the cottage has two storeys and three bays under a steeply pitched roof with end stacks and over-hanging eaves. The west elevation has an original entrance with a boarded door in the centre bay, flanked by a pair of windows to the north, and three windows to the south. All windows have timber lintels, stone sills and replacement multi-pane timber casement frames. There are three full roof dormer windows. The L-shaped range attached to the north gable has pitched and lean-to roofs and end chimneys; there are several door and window openings, many of which appear to be C20 insertions. A single storey lean-to is attached to the south gable of the cottage.

INTERIOR: an original central entrance in the west elevation gives access into a small vestibule with rooms off to the left and right, both with ceiling beams running from east to west and wainscoting to the west wall. The left room has a brick chimney breast to the north wall and the right room has a brick chimney breast to the south wall which retains an cast iron range. A third room entered to the right of the latter, has ceiling beams, is wainscoted throughout and has a chimney breast on the south wall fitted with a later C19 cast iron chimney piece with grate; to the right of the latter is an original timber cupboard. There are plank and batten doors throughout the ground floor. The staircase is a C20 insertion and detailing to the three first floor bedrooms is of a similar date. The brick L-shaped extension to the north retains a brick firebreast with cast-iron range on the south wall, a small cast-iron chimney piece in the north east corner and the original water pump.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: to the south of the former fisherman's cottages is a small building thought to be a former stable; this is a rubble sandstone building with a pitched roof of tiles and with a single entrance through the largely brick rebuilt north wall. It has a cobbled floor, the remains of a flue, and a pair of stalls against its south wall. There is a hexagonal Second World War pill box at the foot of the cliff below the cottage.


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, (1992), 626


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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