Skip to Content

Blyth Battery, Blyth, Northumberland

ww1 observation posts at blyth, northumberland

Conservation Plan, Site Interpretation, Education and Outreach

Blyth Battery was built in 1916 to defend the port of Blyth and the submarine base there during World War I. Upgraded for re-use during World War II, it is the most intact, accessible and intelligible coastal defence battery on the north east and Yorkshire coast, with individual buildings and features of considerable rarity. It comprises two building groups – a twin coast defence gun emplacement and a twin searchlight emplacement, each with associated buildings. Handed to the local authority in 1925 and recommissioned for World War II, it has since been absorbed into the wider recreational use of the Links, a 2-mile stretch of formal and informal open space south of Blyth town centre. All the main buildings survive, but virtually all signs of the compounds, temporary hutment camps (for off-duty personnel) and false concealment structures are gone. The Battery’s buildings are scheduled and listed Grade II, and the site is also within a local nature reserve.

NECT was commissioned in 2004 to prepare a Conservation Plan, and worked closely with the Friends of Blyth Battery group (now Blyth Battery Volunteers) to produce site interpretation, with the group exploring the different Battery stories that needed to be told. Funding of over £1/2 million was secured by the former Blyth Valley Borough Council to repair the historic fabric, create usable visitor space, provide interpretation and to employ a part-time heritage officer over 3 years, hosted by NECT, to promote usage of the site. Elanor Johnson began work in 2009. Since then, thousands of schoolchildren of all ages have visited Blyth Battery to discover more about the wartime heritage of Northumberland. Pupils explored the historic buildings, found out what life was like in the Homeguard, and took part in various practical, hands on activities to bring the site to life. In addition to school visits, Elanor worked on a number of projects with local schools to improve pupil skills in History and Literacy. Responsibility and the day to day running of the project has now been handed over to the Blyth Battery Volunteers who continue the work that NECT started and have now expanded their role running a series of successful events every year bringing the history of this special place to the widest possible audience.

Blyth Battery is open to the public every weekend from April to September, as well as on other weekdays when possible. The site is manned by the Blyth Battery Volunteers, who also put on special events, re-enactments and displays. For more information visit the Blyth Battery website