Marsden Beach grotta & lift

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Marsden Beach is a lovely sandy beach  to the South of the coastal town of Blyth on the north east coast of England. The  lazy way to the sea (and back up to the car park) is  to take the lift down into a cafe known as the grotto.


A lead miner called Jack Bates and his wife Jessie moved to the area in 1782. It is said he moved into a small cave at Marsden Rock.Using explosives from a local quarry, he blasted the small cave into a much larger one, earning his nickname “Jack the Blaster” in the process and creating a rent-free home,accessed by stairs down the cliff, said to have also been built by Jack. The unusual choice of dwelling attracted visitors, which the couple supplied with refreshments at a cost.

Peter Allan a pub landlord took over the Marsden Grotto and developed it with money allegedly won at the races. Allan restored and extended the caves into a 15-room home including a ballroom and kitchen, turning Jack’s house into an Inn.


In 1848 John Clay, who later became the first mayor of the County Borough of South Shields, bought costal land and claimed that the land gave him rights to The Grotto. Allan battled with Clay in court and was forced to pay £50 costs and £10 annual rent for 20 years. Allan sank into depression and died in 1849 leaving his wife and eight children.


After Allan’s death his family continued to run The Grotto for another 35 years. Many improvements were made, including further excavations. A major cliff fall in 1865 destroyed much of the inn. So large retaining walls were built to protect the internal structure.


The Harton Coal Company acquired The Grotto towards the end of the 19th century. It had substantial success during this period, but it was also allowed to fall into disrepair.

Vaux Breweries took over The Grotto in 1898. They decided to clean the place up as it was crammed with empty beer barrels that draymen would not collect. In 1938 Vaux purchased The Grotto and set upon a large refurbishment program. The buildings joined onto the caves were rebuilt to a high standard. A lift was also added to the surface.

In 1999 Vaux decided to sell the Grotto but a buyer could not be found for the Marsden Grotto and it closed down.

It reopened around 2003 and has changed hands several time new owners took over this year and it is today open daily.


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