The Newbiggin Maritime Museum can be found in the seaside town of Newbiggin by the Sea in South East Northumberland, not far from the towns of Ashington, Blyth and Morpeth and close to the beautiful Northumbrian countryside. The Maritime museum is one of Northumberland's newer attractions.
Newbiggin by the Sea has a wealth of maritime history. Its lifeboat station being the oldest operational boathouse in the British Isles – The lifeboat Station began in 1851 following a disaster at sea when ten fishermen lost their lives. It is very appropriate that a maritime museum should be housed at Newbiggin by the Sea.
Situated right on the seafront at the eastern end of the promenade The Maritime Centre is contained in a large, spacious, bright, modern building. The Centre provides a café, shop, a fascinating museum and offers conference facilities. The Maritime Centre is open 10-5 each day and 11-5 on a Sunday. Entry to the museum. is £2.50 for all adults, £1.50 for children, entry to the café and shop is of course free.
The Maritime Museum explores throughout its exhibitions the three main industries that shaped the town:- Fishing, Coal Mining and Tourism and it goes back as far as the 11th century. The museum also illustrates so well community life which documents many tales of hardship and heroism. For example, in 1927 the crew of the lifeboat consisted mainly of coal miners who were off shift from the coal mine (the fishermen would be at sea). It would also take the help of 25 women to help launch the lifeboat, often these women waded waist deep into heavy seas to achieve this and often in very cold winter temperatures.
The restored Mary Joicey Lifeboat is centre piece to the museum along with local fishermen's coble – The Girl Anne. The Mary Joicey was responsible for saving 90 lives off the Northumberland Coast. She was retired in 1989 after 23 years service but returned, fully restored, to her former port in 2011 to become part of the museum. There is a viewing platform provided for examining the Mary Joicey. There is also an external viewing area providing views towards St Bartholomews Church.
The centre café is called the Breakwater Café and it provides seaside food using local produce. We enjoyed a warm welcome and a lovely cup of coffee served by friendly staff, relaxed and watched seaside life pass by.
The Seashore shop I found to be very interesting, it is packed with a variety of goods and gifts to buy, many from local crafters..
As I have some mobility problems requiring a walking stick I was pleased to see a large, free car park adjoining the Maritime Centre with allocated blue badge parking areas.
For the less mobile/wheelchair users there is ramped access to Reception. Doors which open automatically lead to the Welcome Desk. Reception is step free and well lit. For wheelchair users there is a lowered section at the Welcome Desk. A hearing loop system is installed at Reception. Assistance dogs are welcome. Information brochures are available in large print on request.
With the exception of the viewing platform/area which has some steps, the whole centre has level access throughout. There is a wheelchair accessible/disabled WC close to Reception.