Return to main webpage   

Solway Plain - past and present

Allonby and its buildings

For such a tiny village, Allonby contains a remarkable number of interesting and historic buildings.

Allonby postcard view, around 1900

In this postcard view, from around 1900, the group of buildings on the left were originally the Fish Yards, operated by the Beeby family. Here herring were gutted, salted and packed into barrels which were made at a cooperage there. In the centre of the picture is the Reading Room and, on the right, with the balcony, are Allonby Baths.

The Baths were built by a group of wealthy Quakers in the 1830s. They have a fine, portico which faces into 'The Square' away from the sea.

The sketch, on the right, shows how they may have appeared in Victorian times.
Allonby Square in Vicorian times

Allonby Quaker Meeting House
Sketch from David Butler's "Meeting Houses of the Lake Counties"

The Quakers formed a large and influential section of the local community. Their Meeting House stood at the north end of the village. It was originally converted from a cottage in 1703, extended in 1732 and continued in use until 1991. It is now a private dwelling.

A little further along the coast road stands North Lodge, seen below in its original state, around 1907.

North Lodge Allonby, 1907

North Lodge was built in the 1830s by Thomas Richardson who had married an Allonby girl, Martha Beeby, in 1799. The central pavilion was to provide a holiday home for the Richardsons. At either side of this, were six cottages for local widows and spinsters who were to live there rent free and receive £5 per year from an endowment fund which Thomas provided. The building is still in use as low-cost housing and is operated by the Allonby Alms House trust.

Thomas Richardson

Thomas Richardson, the builder of North Lodge was a Quaker banker and held shares in both the Stockton & Darlington Railway and Stephenson’s Locomotive Works. He was one of the original proprietors of Middlesbrough Docks and founded the nearby Ayton Friends’ School.

Allonby Reading Rooms (below) opened in 1862. The construction was largely financed by Joseph Pease, M.P., a wealthy Quaker industrialist from County Durham who was a cousin and business associate of Thomas Richardson.

Allonby Reading Rooms 

Pease commissioned a 32-year old Quaker architect from Manchester, Alfred Waterhouse to design the building.

Waterhouse went on to become one of the Victorian era's most celebrated architects. He designed the Natural History Museum in London, Strangeways Prison and Manchester Town Hall.

The Reading Rooms closed in the 1970s and fell into serious disrepair. They have recently been purchased for conversion to a private house.

Allonby Church

Allonby Church dates from 1845 and replaced an earlier building on the same site. The adjoining Sunday School was originally used as the village school. This rather plain, undistinguished building fits particularly well with its landscape.

Allonby Square, 1929

In this postcard view of Allonby Square in the 1920s, the pediment of the Baths is just visible on the right. The old cobbled street was the original main road through the village.

Allonby, showing old bridge

Another postcard view, from the late 1800s, shows the Ship Inn, Allonby's main hostelry, on the right over the old cast-iron bridge which was destroyed when a traction engine ran into the brook in 1907.

Return to main webpage