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Be inspired every day with Living North
Blyth beach
Places to go
August 2016
Reading time 5 minutes

With the tall ships docking at Blyth this weekend, we thought we'd give you the basics on the history of the coastal town

Once one of England's busiest ports there is lots to know.

1. The name ‘Blyth’ comes from the old English word ‘blithe’ meaning ‘gentle’ or ‘merry’.

2. It was the coal mining and ship building industries that helped Blyth to prosper. Though the salt trade, fishing and railways also played an essential role.

3. By the early 1960s the port of Blyth was said to be the busiest in England, shipping over six million tonnes of coal. The port itself dates back as far as the 12th century.

4. Blyth did its bit for the war effort. Many vessels were built in the town’s shipyard during the First and Second World Wars, including the first aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. 

5. Ship building in Blyth led to the opening of businesses such as rope works and sail makers, and even a harpoon shop inspired by Greenland’s whaling industry.

6. In the town’s marketplace there are concrete blocks which spell out ‘Blyth’ in morse code. Who knew?

7. Blyth’s Quayside has been transformed into a modern hub of hotels, restaurants and housing, with the Spirit of the Staithes sculpture acting as the centrepiece of the area. 

8. 200 years ago Blyth’s Captain William Smith embarked on a voyage from the town’s port so as to trade around the world. By chance, he discovered Antarctica. In 2019, a team are set to sail an almost-identical Tall Ship to the one used by Smith, recreating his historic journey.

9. Blyth is home to the non-league club Blyth Spartans, famed for their repeated ‘giant killing’ track record in the FA cup. 

10. Today, Blyth plays a fundamental role in the UK’s renewable energy industry. Just this year the port have received over 100 wind turbines, which will be transported across the country to various wind farm sites. 

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