Whitley Bay is a seaside town on the northeast coast of England. Historically in Northumberland, it is now part of Tyne and Wear. Whitley Bay is around 10 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne. It is bounded by the coastline of the North Sea to the east. The towns of North Shields and Tynemouth are to the south.
The town was known as Whitley until the 1890s, by which time confusion with Whitby, in Yorkshire, regularly caused mail to be misdirected. Though since known officially as Whitley Bay, many residents still refer to the town as 'Whitley'.
Whitley was first mentioned about the year 1100 when King Henry I conferred it with other possessions on the Priory of Tynemouth. Whitley is also referred to in the charters of King Henry II, King Richard I and King John, confirming to the priors their possessions and liberties.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1535-1540), Whitley was held under the Crown for a time. By a grant of Edward VI dated 8 December 1551, it came into the hands of Dudley, Earl of Warwick who was created Duke of Northumberland. It remained in the Percy family until 1632 after which time the area appeared to be let at a yearly rental to various holders until it came into the possession of the Duke of Somerset on his marriage in 1682 with Elizabeth, the heiress of Joscelyn, the 11th Earl of Northumberland. Whitley subsequently passed by inheritance to her granddaughter Elizabeth Seymour who had married Sir Hugh Smithson, a Yorkshire baronet, afterwards created Duke of Northumberland. Whitley has since been retained by descendants and the present Duke of Northumberland is the Lord of the Manor and principal landowner.
From the late 19th century and into the 20th century the adverse effects of the decline of local coalmining and dependent industries in the area were ameliorated by the emergence of Whitley Bay as a seaside holiday resort. The opening of the North Tyne Loop railway line in 1882, connecting the coastal villages to Newcastle, benefited the tourism industry. The line, now followed by present Metro system (opened 1980), included a new railway station in the centre of the town, and another at Monkseaton. Both stations remain in use as Metro stations.
The parish church is St. Paul's Church. It was provided by the Duke of Northumberland when the parish of Tynemouth was divided in 1860 and it was consecrated in 1864.
The Whitley and Monkseaton Local Board was established in 1873. The district of the Local Board became the Urban District of Whitley and Monkseaton in 1894. On 1 January 1944 the Whitley and Monkseaton Urban District became the Whitley Bay Urban District and on 5 March 1954 it was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation as the [Municipal] Borough of Whitley Bay. The charter was presented by HRH The Princess Royal at a ceremony in the town on 14 April 1954.
The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the borough, with Hartley in the north of the borough becoming a part of the Blyth Valley District in Northumberland, and the majority of the town including Whitley Bay and Monkseaton forming part of the Metropolitan Borough of North Tyneside in Tyne and Wear.