title="Cresswell Parish Council in Northumberland">

Cresswell village

Many of the houses that you see today were built by the Cresswell family in the 1820s and 1830s. The estate village included St Bartholomew’s Church, a school and workers cottages. The oldest property in the village is Manor House (South Side, formerly Fisher Row) which has a 1648 date stone.

  • Earthworks in the field between the Pele Tower and the Village Hall may belong to a much earlier village.
  • Part of a Medieval tombstone was found when the houses in St Bartholomew’s Close were built in the 1970s

Cresswell Pele Tower

Pele towers are fortified houses and were built as a defence against the Border Reivers (raiders and robbers from either side of the Scottish border). Cresswell Pele Tower was built by the Cresswell family in the 15th century. The basement would have been used for storage, a kitchen and domestic quarters were on the first floor and the upper floor (unheated) contained bedrooms.

Cresswell Hall

Three halls or mansions were built by the Cresswell family. The original Medieval Hall stood next to the Pele Tower and was replaced by the Mansion House in 1749. This was demolished in 1845 although the original doorway can still be seen in the field wall to the right of the pele tower.
Cresswell Hall & Stable Block were built in the woods behind Cresswell Towers Holiday Park between 1821 and 1829. The Hall and many other buildings were demolished after the sale of the Cresswell estate in 1924. Only the Stable Block and colonnade survive but are in a poor state of repair.
 

The old Lifeboat House and the Second Grace Darling

On 9th March 1874 James Brown and his 3 sons were returning to Cresswell after a fishing trip. Their boat was in sight of land when a heavy squall capsized it. All 4 fishermen drowned. As a result of this tragedy the Lifeboat House was built and opened on 21st August 1875.

For many years Cresswell was synonymous with the Brown family, one of the most well known being Margaret Brown. Her role in the rescue of the crew and passengers of the Gustav on a wild and stormy night on 5th January 1876 led to her being called the Second Grace Darling. In 1921 the RNLI presented a gold brooch to Margaret in recognition of her services as a lifeboat helper for almost 50 years.

The Brown family can be traced back to at least the 17th century in Cresswell and many of them lived in South Side, formerly called Fisher Row. As well as being fishermen the Brown’s were always available to crew the village’s lifeboat. Cresswell had a lifeboat from 1875 until 1944 and every coxswain in that time had the surname Brown!
 
The Lifeboat House is now the Village Hall.
 
Cresswell Lifeboats
 

The Old Potter
8 oars.
 
 
1875 - 1889
 
 
8 launches
 
 
33 lives saved
 
Ellen & Eliza
10 oars.
 
1889 - 1909
 
20 launches
 
41 lives saved
Martha
10 oars.
 
1909 – 1944
 
 
30 launches
 
 
17 lives saved
 
 
TOTAL
58 launches
91 lives saved

 
St Bartholomew’s Church

The Church was paid for by Addison John Creswell and was  consecrated on 22nd October 1836.
 
  • Reverend John Leefe lived at Ellington vicarage where he planted 160 varieties of willow tree. Oddly, the road where the vicarage was is now called The Elms!
  • He was succeeded by the Reverend Taylor who, on 3rd August 1894, went for a swim in the sea at Cresswell and drowned. His body was never found. 

The Cresswell family

Sir Robert de Cresswell is recorded as living here back in 1191 and it was the Cresswell’s who built the Pele Tower in the 15th century. The Cresswell family also built Cresswell Hall in the 1820s. Sadly it was demolished in the 1930s although the imposing stable block survives. 

 In May 1941 Joe Baker-Cresswell, Captain of HMS Bulldog, captured the German submarine U 110 after it had been forced to the surface after being depth charged. Among the many things he recovered was an Enigma cypher machine. This helped British scientists break the German naval code and, as a result, win the war in the Atlantic and save countless Allied lives. King George V1 described it as “the most important single event in the whole war at sea”.

Golden Sands Holiday Park

This site was developed by the Ashington Coal Co. before the Second World War to provide cheap holidays for local miners. During the war it housed displaced people from Eastern Europe.

Cresswell Towers Holiday Park

Opened in the 1960s. The site was once part of the landscaped grounds and formal gardens of Cresswell Hall which was demolished in the 1930s.
 

Cresswell at War

RAF Cresswell was constructed in 1940. It was a Chain Home Extra Low radar station for detecting low flying aircraft in the Newcastle region. The remains of this station are on the cliff top at the south end of the village.
  • On 8th October 1940 a high explosive bomb fell near the radar station and left a crater in the road. One person was slightly injured.
  • In the early hours of 16th February 1941 two bombs exploded on Cresswell beach.
  • In September 1942 Albert Lanchashire was on guard duty at the radar station. Suddenly a light shone from a cloud and he passed out. He recovered a few minutes later but never mentioned this incident until nearly 50 years later. Had he seen a UFO?

 Other Cresswell curiosities:

  • Tom McCleishan of Cresswell was taken by the notorious Press Gang and fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805
  • In 1822 a dead sperm whale washed up on the beach at Cresswell. The bones from this whale were displayed on a plinth in the grounds of Cresswell Hall. Some of these bones are now in the Discovery Museum, Newcastle.
  • In 1847 there were 2 pubs in Cresswell, the Boat Inn and the Cresswell Arms. Sadly there are none today. But there is an excellent ice cream shop!
  • Baron Runciman of Shoreston founded the Moor Shipping line. He was born in Dunbar in 1847 but moved to the Coastguard Station, Cresswell in 1853. He ran away to sea when he was just 12 years old and was a master mariner by the age of 21.
  • In 1932 aeroplane flights were offered from Cresswell Flying Field by Captain Hall of the North Eastern Aviation Company.
  • In 1966 Cresswell Links was designated as a Village Green
 
 
Barry Mead, local resident, August 2011