John used illustrations, original photographs and postcards to highlight the development of, and changes to, the village interwoven with the history of his own ancestors.
In the late 1700s and 1800s Alnmouth had been a thriving port dealing with timber, coal, corn and other commodities. Evidence of this can still be seen in surviving buildings, which have now been repurposed in the village, eg The Hindmarsh Hall, once a corn store.
The harbour was a bustling maritime port featuring coastguards and smugglers. Seafarers were well catered for by 10 public houses – these days reduced to six. John Wesley on a famous visit to Alnmouth once declared it to be “Famous for all kinds of wickedness”.
Like so many places, Alnmouth’s status as a port declined with the advent of the railway. By the late 1800s, however, Alnmouth had become a fashionable seaside resort where the middle class built holiday houses offering easy access by rail to Newcastle.
A line of beach huts were built, visitors could take salt baths, and the second oldest golf links in the country was opened.
There is still also evidence of how the Second World War affected the village. On the beach coastal defences can still be seen, and sadly Argyle Street suffered a direct hit from a German bomber, killing and wounding several civilians.
John’s family, although believed to be from Rochdale, have been part of the village since the late 1790s. He showed adverts and photos of the family across the years to show their involvement in the commercial development of the village. For many years they had been involved in carting in and around Alnmouth, and ran other businesses in the village. Their trusty white horse “Jimmy” can be seen in many of the old postcards of the time, often delivering coal. John’s earliest written evidence of the family is for 1834, when they are advertised as “Carters and carriers”.
One ancestor in 1876 was reported as being “Drunk in charge of a cart” and another of stealing rabbits.
The family remain connected to the village. John grew up there and has many fond memories of Alnmouth and the village as it was in his youth.