Allonby, from the east
The village overlooks Allonby Bay in the Solway Firth. The area is within the 'Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'. Allonby, and the five-mile coastal strip of the bay, afford spectacular views across the Solway to the Galloway Hills across the Firth. The village is located on the 150-mile Cumbria Coastal Way long distance footpath.
'Allonby' is reckoned to be a rare example of Breton and Old Norse, meaning "Alein's village", Alein being a French personal name of Breton origin. The suffix 'by' is a late Old English word taken from Old Norse, meaning 'village'.
From the late 18th century until the mid-19th century, Allonby was home to a small fishing fleet. The main catch was herring. Fish yards were built where these were salted and packed in barrels made on the premises. There was also a smoke house where kippers were produced.
In the early part of the 19th century Allonby was a popular sea-bathing resort. Baths were built in 1835. The buildings still survive as private residences in the Market Square.
The village is noted for a 17th-century coaching inn now known as the Ship Hotel. Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins stayed overnight at the hostelry in 1857 (due to Collins' illness) while they were touring northern Cumberland. Dickens later described Allonby as a 'dreary little place'.
The Reading Room, opened in 1862, was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the Victorian architect, when he was only 32 years old. The building was largely financed by Joseph Pease who was Britain's first Quaker MP.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Solway Coast AONB
- Ramblers' Association, Cumbria Coastal Way
- Solway Plain past and present - Allonby
- Armstrong, A. M.; Mawer, A.; Stenton, F. M.; Dickens, B. (1950). The place-names of Cumberland. English Place-Name Society, vol.xxi. Part 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 261.
- ‘Mary Beeby's Memorandum' published by Cumbria Family History Society, Aug. 1998
- Holme St Cuthbert History Group: More Plain People, 2007