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Blyth in 1836

BLYTH. or SOUTH BLYTH, or BLYTH NOOK, a small seaport town in the county of Northumberland, partly in the parish of Horton, but chiefly in that of Earsdon, and in the east division of Castle ward, distant from London 257 miles, N. by W., and from Newcastle 12 miles N. by E. It derives its name from its situation on the south side of the river Blyth, at its confluence with the German Ocean. The town owes its origin and prosperity to its commodious and safe haven for small vessels. The navigable river and port of Blyth are mentioned as of consequence to the bishops of Durham in former times, and are named in their records with the Tyne, Wear, and Tees, as being subject to their jurisdiction. The prelates of that diocese still have jurisdiction over the river and the wastes between high and low water marks. The river Blyth rises about twenty-five miles inland, and its general course is east by north, from which it makes one great bend to the north after it has passed Stamfordham. On resuming its general course it receives its largest tributary from the north-west, after which it goes on nearly in the same direction for about nine miles, when it receives another stream from the north-west, after which it inclines to the south-east, and enters the ocean, after a total course of about thirty-seven miles. The Blyth abounds with sea fish near its mouth ; and those fresh-water fish that frequent the higher parts of the stream are of very fine quality. The shore near its estuary affords abundance of mussels, which are used for bait by the fishermen of the neighbouring places.

Blyth harbour is so safe that an instance rarely occurs of a vessel sustaining damage in entering it in the most tempestuous weather. In full tides there are ten feet of water on the bar ; when there are only eight feet, stationary lights are exhibited in the harbour. The tide flows up to the dam at the Bedlington iron-works, four miles and a half from the mouth of the river. The place was of very trifling consequence previously to the Restoration, when it appears to have contained scarcely any houses. It must after that have rapidly increased, as we find that in 1728 not fewer than 200 vessels are entered in the custom-house books as having sailed from this port. Its trade would seem to have declined after this : towards the latter part of the last century there were only a few small sloops belonging to the port; but the opening of the Cowpen colliery, near the end of the century, materially contributed to the increase of its trade, which consists chiefly in the export of coal and iron from Bedlington, and sometimes corn. Thirty or forty sail of laden vessels sometimes sail in one tide. They usually return in ballast ; few articles are imported, except such timber and stores as are required for the shipping. About 100 vessels now belong to the port, which is regarded as a sort of creek to that of-Newcastle.

Blyth is a pleasant and well built little place. It has a custom-house, subject to that of Newcastle ; two ship insurance companies, and several dock-yards, in which vessels of 430 tons have been built. There is a neat chapel of ease, which was erected in 1751 by Sir M. W. Ridley, the proprietor of the estate : and to which a Sunday-school has since been annexed. Different denominations of dissenters have four places of worship at Blyth.

The township of South Blyth and Newsham contained 248 houses in 1831, when the population was 1,769, of whom 977 were females. This however does not convey a true idea of the extent and population of the town, as it only comprehends that part of it which lies in the parish of Earsdon, but, adding to the account that part in the township of Cowpen, parish of Horton, the actual population must exceed 3,000.