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Newbiggin beach replenishment project
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May 20th 2007 - Hunkleton Stone
Tim Martin and his son Richard talk about the recovery of the famous Hunkleton Stone.

hunkleton stone

hunkleton stone
Click photo for excavation slideshow

hunkleton malcolm
My father, Malcolm Thompson, standing on the stone in about 1935. He's now 75 years old.

hunkleton stone - eva hartley
Eva Hartley with her brother

The Hunkleton Stone

The Hunkleton Stone rested on the beach close to the former Middle Shelter and was a favourite gathering spot for youngsters to clamber on or dive off when the tide was in. It was also an iconic symbol of Newbiggin's rich seaside heritage and even featured on a cartoon postcard for the village.

How it got there is subject to many and varied opinions including being deposited by a glacier during the ice age to a boulder emanating from Newbiggin Colliery and founded down to the coal seams.

However one thing is sure that over the last 20 years the boulder has increasingly shunned the attention of the visitor as its home sunk deeper into the bay.

Local residents Richard Martin and his father Tim highlighted the plight of the stone and began to monitor it over the last ten years to ensure it was not lost.

It became apparent before the current £10m Newbiggin Bay project to recharge the beach with 500,000 tonnes of new sand; build a new breakwater in the bay to and improve the promenade, that the stone's days were numbered and it would be buried forever.

However, Barry Lowther, manager of the LIFE Partnership in Newbiggin which is helping to regenerate the area, says that work got underway to ensure the opportunity was taken before the commencement of beach recharge operations to recover the stone until its longer term future could be determined.

"Members of Newbiggin Community Area Partnership took on the plight of the stone and requested that consideration be given to it being recovered and repositioned in its former location above the new beach," says Mr Lowther.

"It's of significant historical interest to the community and everyone wanted to make sure that the importance of the stone was recognised."

With a critical one off low water predicted Westminster Dredging, the Newbiggin Bay contractor together with Wansbeck Council and Atkins Consultants prepared for the rescue mission.

On Friday Westminster deployed one of its giant excavators to expose the stone but almost as soon as the work began the tide shifted and began to flood the excavation.

With a second excavator deployed and with their skilful operation, the stone was lifted clear of its home to a new temporary location further along the beach.

Richard Martin, Chair of the Newbiggin by the Sea Heritage Partnership, says: "The Hunkleton Stone is very much a feature of Newbiggin by the Sea's rich seaside heritage which is being championed by our partnership with the eventual goal of a new visitor centre for the community.

"The stone is noted on maps going back to the 1800s as well as picture postcards depicting a day at the seaside.

beach scene

"Thanks must go to all who made this happen, especially Westminster Dredging in diverting their machines for the stone raising as well as the valuable support from Newbiggin Community Area Partnership, Wansbeck Council and Atkins Consultants as without their co-operation the opportunity to safeguard the stone could not have come to fruition."

A community website is to run a feature on the stone and encourage visitors to the site at to send in their memories of the Incredible Hunkleton as well as any pictures they may have. In addition, full details relating to the Newbiggin Bay project can be found at

Wansbeck District Council news article April 2007

hunkle stone
The 1970s?

hunkleton 1962
Summer 1962

Dear Webmaster
I came across your website the other day and remember playing on the Huckleton Stone as a child, although I never knew it was called that! I got my Dad to sort through all our old photos and this is the only one of the stone. I was born at 16 Cumberland Avenue in 1959. My Mum and Dad are Isobel and John Andrew Adams. My Granda and Grandma were Ralph and Bessie Adams. We moved away from Newbiggin when I was very small but we always returned to visit my grandparents on high days and holidays. Sadly, all our other photos, whilst taken on the beach, could really be taken anywhere - this one though, clearly shows Newbiggin and was taken when I was 3 - I'm the dumpy little girl in the front on the right end. My older Brother, Michael, is also on the front of the rock and is the 2nd from the left. Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to put it on your site if you think it has benefit.

Hunkleton 1926
Courtesy Mike Kirkup

richard and the stone The Return of the Rock
21st June - on the Summer Solstice, the Hunkleton Stone is respectfully placed back where it came from - positioned precisely by GPS. Photos by Jason Thompson
hunkleton The Hunkleton is back!
As seen by Derek and Margaret Hobbs - the Hunkleton Stone replacement, plus the first Core Loc placements, and the drainage of the Horseshoe Steps foundation 21st June.

The Hunkleton Stone is carefully replaced in its former location on 21st June 2007.
Tim Martin helps the Atkins crew fill in the crater made to accommodate the Hunkleton Stone - 21st June 2007

Hunkleton Stone Lynn Hill

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