Seaton Sluice is situated half a mile north of, and formed part of, the old village of Hartley, of which the earliest records date from 1097, when it was in the possession of the monks of Tynemouth. Hartley was the name given to the whole
of the area between the Brier Dene at Whitley and the Seaton Burn on the Blyth coastal road.
In the early years, apart from the Rivers Tyne and Tweed, there were no natural harbours along the Northumbrian coastline and so, with the growth of the coal trade, it became a necessity to develop new ports. Although Seaton Sluice was mentioned in 1565 in a drawn-up list of Northumbrian ports, it was then just a natural harbour.
Just over 200 years ago, Seaton Sluice became the centre of a flourishing coal and glass trade, exporting to western Europe. For its size, Seaton Sluice was the centre of greater commercial activity than any other town on the North East coast, with ships of up to 300 tons burden visiting the tiny harbour. It was from the 30-odd pits in the district near Hartley township where the coal was mined. Employing hundreds of seamen, and providing a living for miners, ropemakers, sailmakers, shipbuilders, insurance brokers, and also investment opportunities for numerous shareholders, trade at Seaton Sluice once rivalled that of North Shields and Blyth, and its success was entirely due to the entrepreneurial and engineering skills of the Delaval family.
Today, Seaton Sluice has changed into a quiet resort which shows little sign of its industrial past. The bottleworks and ships have long since gone, and the Seaton Burn trickles gently down into the once busy little harbour, where small fishing boats now occupy the moorings. Many of the old inns and ale houses of the day have also disappeared but, despite this, Seaton Sluice still has many hidden secrets and stories to tell!
The Seaton Sluice Watch House Museum is normally open to the public, staffed by volunteers from the Seaton Sluice and Old Hartley Local History Society, every Sunday afternoon throughout the summer, from 2 pm to 4:30 pm, with additional sessions on Heritage Open Days (mid September).
As Seaton Delaval Hall is now under the stewardship of The National Trust, it does not feature directly on this website. However, you can access The National Trust's website from here.
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