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Former Rocket House

A Grade II Listed Building in Blyth, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.125 / 55°7'30"N

Longitude: -1.4993 / 1°29'57"W

OS Eastings: 432030

OS Northings: 581299

OS Grid: NZ320812

Mapcode National: GBR K9Z5.6M

Mapcode Global: WHC30.YF7X

Entry Name: Former Rocket House

Listing Date: 6 January 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1396399

English Heritage Legacy ID: 509115

Location: Blyth, Northumberland, NE24

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Blyth

Built-Up Area: Blyth

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Blyth St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

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Listing Text

1395/0/10007 BATH TERRACE
06-JAN-11 (Northeast,off)

Rocket house and look-out, later C19

MATERIALS: rubble sandstone with ashlar and red-brick dressings and a slate roof.

PLAN: rectangular building with rocket shed on ground floor and first floor look-out over the North Sea

EXTERIOR: this is a tall, square two-storey building with a pitched roof and the lower courses of a rear gable chimney stack; a metal flue pierces the roof at the eastern corner. Main (west) elevation facing Bath Terrace is rendered and has an arched cart entrance on the ground floor with original double wooden doors and a stone surround, and a pair of tall rectangular first floor openings. The right return has two ground floor windows and a single, centrally placed, first floor window; the left return has a first floor doorway, formerly reached by an external stone stairway, now removed, and a single ground floor opening. The rear (east) elevation has a large first floor window opening and a single inserted ground floor opening. All openings (except those on the rear elevation) have red brick surrounds and flat arches and windows have projecting stone sills.

INTERIOR: the ground floor is divided by a stone wall into two compartments; the narrower right room is entered through an original opening and has an inserted later dividing wall. The large left compartment which housed the cart containing the rescue equipment, has the remains of a small heath and flue in one corner and a timber ladder stair giving access to the upper floor through a plank and batten door. The first floor is a large open space, boarded to dado level, with the remains of a stove in one corner and a cupboard above the stair. Windows are boarded, but that on the north east side overlooking the North Sea is large and has a timber window frame; this is considered to have functioned as a lookout. The first floor doorway has an original door with bolts and coat hooks attached. Original gas light fixtures are present in the ceiling which were superseded by a later electricity supply. The ceiling is of unpainted timber boarding.

HISTORY: map evidence indicates that this building was constructed between c. 1860 and c. 1897. Around 500 Volunteer Life Brigades were established around the coast of the British Isles in the second half of the C19. Their role was to assist the coast guard in saving lives from shipwreck on the foreshore by means of a rocket apparatus and Breeches buoy. Facilities often comprised a watch house, a shelter for the volunteers and storage, usually in the form of a shed, for the rocket apparatus. They supplemented the work of the lifeboats which saved life at sea. The first to be established anywhere in the country was that at Tynemouth in 1865 following public concern over the loss of life from a ship wrecked in the mouth of the river the previous year. Elsewhere in the north east, Cullercoats was established in 1865 while South Shields followed a year later, Seaton Sluice in 1876 and Sunderland in 1877. Only those at Sunderland, South Shields and Tynemouth remain in use, working as Auxiliary Coast Guards. It is thought that the rocket house played a role in the rescue of a Norwegian bark called the Haabet which had run aground at Cambois, near Blyth during the Great Storm of 1901. In total fifteen ships were wrecked on the Northumberland coast and forty four lives were lost during the Storm.

Smith, J, Coastguard Stations (English Heritage, unpublished report, 2009)
Tolan-Smith, C, North east Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment (NERCZA), (unpublished report for ARS Ltd, 2008) 147-8
www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/nercza-final-report-text/ Accessed on 15 September 2010
www.tomorrows-history.com/projects/PD0100010001/Great%20Storm%20index.htm accessed on 15 September 2010

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: This volunteer life brigade rocket house dating from the second half of the C19 is recommended for designation for the following principal reasons:
* Group Value: it has group value with the Grade II listed Blyth Highlight, forming an important pair of sea control and rescue features
* Historic Interest: as an example of the important Victorian approach to safety at sea which established Volunteer Life Brigades around the coast of England.
* Intactness: a largely intact example of a simple rocket house and look-out
* Rarity: despite having been built in their hundreds around the coast, rocket houses are rare survivals nationally and only a handful of listed examples are known.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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