28 May 2020
Whitley Park Hall
Whitley Bay, North Tyneside
This is a
Current status is
The site is still a park, though part of it is now Marine Park First School.
Whitley Park Hall was a country house, later a hotel and council offices.
Deep beneath the recreational space called Whitley Park, one can hope that the foundations of long-lost Whitley Park Hall might remain. It is hard to imagine that this part of Whitley Bay once looked remarkably different than it does today.
The introduction of a passenger train between Monkseaton station and Newcastle put the wheels of progress in motion. The picnicking parties, who had previously travelled from Newcastle by wagonette, began to arrive more frequently and in greater numbers to the little station, where colourful rambling roses grew.
Whitley Park Hall, built in white stucco, was constructed by Edward Hall about 1789. He was also a cattle breeder and subsequently added to his estate by the purchase of land from his neighbours. He was famous for being the breeder of ‘The Fat Ox,’ immortalised in one of Thomas Bewick’s copper-plate engravings. The ox chewed the cud in Whitley during the 1780’s, weighing 216 stones, 8 lbs before its slaughter by Newcastle butcher Thomas Horsley in 1789.
On Edward Hall’s death in 1792, it was bought by John Haigh, a ‘hostman’ who became bankrupt in 1797 and moved to America. His assignees sold it in 1800 to Thomas Wright of North Shields, who occupied it until his death in 1840. In 1844, it was bought by John Hodgson-Hinde, and sold in 1855 to Charles Mark Palmer, a shipbuilder then at the height of his fortune, and in 1869 to Thomas William Bulman, who later extended it, diverted the road around his property, and planted a tree belt that still exists today.
Thomas William Bulman died in 1879, and his widow sold Whitley Park Hall in 1893 to Theodore Hoyle, Joseph George Joel, Joseph Aynsley Davidson Shipley and Richard John Leeson, who wished to prevent it from disappearing under hundreds of small houses and hoped that a hydropathic establishment could be opened. Plans for the health facility fell through, but a provisional licence for a hotel and restaurant was granted to the Whitley Park Hotel Company in 1893. It opened in the spring of 1896 under the management of Miss Carrie Sokel. In 1910, the company sold parts of the grounds which were turned into the Spanish City Pleasure Grounds (subject of the Dire Straits song Tunnel of Love, along with Whitley Bay and the nearby town Cullercoats), while other parcels of land were sold off for building purposes.
The house was used for billeting during the Great War but was left with only twelve of its sixty apartments in good condition. The hotel was sold to Whitley Pleasure Gardens Company in 1920, with plans to use its grounds to erect elaborate amusements and shows, as well as a scenic railway, extending from Spanish City. The development faltered, but the hotel was sold to Whitley Bay and Monkseaton Urban District Council in 1924, which used the building as offices. In 1939, it spent £30,000 on new offices in Whitley Park, finding the old house “totally unsafe,” and to be “suffering from galloping consumption.”
Whitley Park Hall was demolished in 1939, and a library was built on the site in 1966, since also demolished." Retrieved from House and Heritage, link above.
Compared to the first edition above, the village of Whitley has increasingly transformed into a blossoming urban area. Previously it was a sleepy village, with the great country house in the centre with a public house and a high street. Now, housing developments are popping up to cater for the nearby quarry and collieries, as well as the burgeoning tourist industry as the area rebrands itself as a holiday destination.
The area post-war is a fully developed holiday town. The country house is now a hotel to serve the holidayers from Tyneside and beyond. It was the perfect place for a hotel with the adjacent Spanish City being the main attraction of the area.
Illustration of the country house from presumably the turn of the century due to the building at this point being a hotel. Its splendour cannot be underestimated, and a huge shame this still isn't part of the fabric of Whitley Bay. Retrieved from houseandheritage.org
Colorised photo of Whitley Park Hotel in its heyday, also presumably turn of the century. The area looks reminiscent of a stunning country estate, and typifies how Whitley was regarded in the 19th century. Image retrieved from houseandholiday.
1893 advertisement of the estate and its attached gardens. The grounds were sold to a group to form a hydropathy complex (water therapy) but the license was denied and thus became a hotel soon after. After this sale, part of the grounds were then sold for the Spanish City amusement park.
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