In the 10th century the Vikings were expelled from Ireland and they set sail in search of a new homeland. Rumour has it that it was at Allonby that they landed, and here they set up a relatively peaceful community. Later in its history, Allonby became an important centre for herring fishing, and other economic activities included salt making, weaving and shipbreaking. There was also a thriving smuggling business during the 17th and 18th centuries, with spirits, tobacco and textiles being sneaked in from Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. During the 19th century the village of Allonby became a popular resort. The Old Baths, built in 1835 by a group of rich Quakers, offered a variety of hot and cold sea water baths, while on a separate floor there was a ballroom. The grand, colonnaded building still stands proud in the centre of the village, although its days as a bath house are long gone. Another prominent building in the village is North Lodge with its adjoining former Quaker almshouses. The Quakers were big in Allonby during the 18th and 19th centuries and aside from the baths and the almshouses, other reminders of their presence in the village include a 17th century cottage turned into a Quaker Meeting House in 1703 and a Reading Room built in 1862 on the site of the weaving sheds. At the height of Allonby's popularity as a resort there were 10 inns in the villlage, which were frequented by Cumberland's elite. Charles Dickens visited in 1857 with fellow writer Wilkie Collins during a walking tour. Today, the main draw is the extensive sandy beach of Allonby Bay, with views across the Solway Firth to the Galloway Hills of Scotland, and inland to the mountains of the Lake District. Flocks of oystercatchers can sometimes be seen wheeling around in the sky above the sea. On a clear day the Isle Of Man can be discerned on the horizon. The village website has a collection of photographs, including some fascinating old black and white images.
Map of the area.
|Allonby and Allonby Bay from the south. Photo by Ally McGurk, via Wikimedia Commons|