Sunday, April 16, 2023


Cullercoats is a small fishing village on the North East coast of England located between Tynemouth and Whitley Bay. Those two larger towns are or were popular holiday destinations which declined slowly and in Tynemouth's case elegantly after the advent of cheap holiday flights to the warmer beaches of Europe. But Cullercoats remained a thriving fishing village until recently (I suspect the 'Common Market' may have had something to do with that decline.)

Cullercoats has a small sandy bay enclosed by two small piers and as such is ideal for families. The village has been popular with generations of visitors with its secluded bay the highlight. The beach has a Seaside Award and is ideal for bathing. More information here-

I cannot remember when I did this sketch of the bay but it has been sitting in one of my pads for ages. It shows the two piers with the spire of St George's Chirch to the right. Beyond that is Tynemouth Pier and the ruins of Tynemouth Priory.

Compressing the view is of course a bit of artistic licence because this below is what it looks like in a photo taken more recently -

In the later part of the nineteenth century Cullercoats developed a reputation as a popular artists' colony with the everyday lives of the fishing folk often used as subjects. The famous American artist Winslow Homer spent 18 months living and working in Cullercoats. Two interpretation panels on the seafront (overlooking the bay and further to the North, just after the Watch House) explain the fascinating art history of Cullercoats. Here is a short history of Winslow Homer in Cullercoats including a selection of the paintings he did while living there.

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Homer is a much better painter than I am but I do my best and, using my sketch as a guide, I subsequently painted that same view in acrylic on 8" x 8" canvas. My 'best' was obviously good enough because it is now hanging on a wall somewhere in Madrid.

On a headland to the north of the bay stands the Watch House and here you can see five ladies pretending to be Fishwives. I can remember the real Fishwives many years ago who would sit outside their cottages selling the day's catch which their husbands had brought home from their day out at sea. They would sell mainly crabs and shrimps (prawns?) as well as mussels and whelks and other small shellfish. The cottages are long gone, the Council demolishing them in order to 'improve' the road layout; they straightened it in other words.

Here is a brief history - with nice photos and illustrations - of Cullercoats Watch House from the local newspaper -

This final photo shows the sad end of one of the fishing cobbles, now being used to display flowers. The roof of the Watch House can be seen on the right of the picture with the church spire behind and the view to Tynemouth in the background.

JUDY DINNING Cullercoats Fish Lass

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