Tynemouth guest house a memorial to first female journalist

Martineau Guest House, Front Street, Tynemouth
Martineau Guest House, Front Street, Tynemouth

A Tynemouth guest house could feature in a national exhibition as a secret memorial to a prolific political author.

An appeal earlier this year by Historic England for people to share their knowledge of local monuments, street shrines and community tributes saw hundreds of nominations.

And among them was Martineau Guest House, in Front Street, Tynemouth, which is named after Harriett Martineau, an author well known for her progressive politics.

The search was part of Historic England’s Immortalised season to explore who is remembered, and how, in communities.

A selection of memorials put forward will be unveiled in a new exhibition that opens in London on August 30.

As well as showcasing some of England’s local monuments, street shrines and community tributes, Immortalised: The People Loved, Left and Lost in our Landscape explores the variety of ways people and events have been commemorated in England.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “We are very grateful that so many people living in the North East took the time to tell us about memorials in their communities and the stories behind them.

“At a time when our national statues and memorials are under increasing scrutiny, we’re delighted to shine a light on these often undiscovered and under-appreciated but precious markers of our past.

“Every one of those that’s been nominated has a local champion and someone who cares about it and about the story it tells.”

Harriet Martineau (1802 – 1876), England’s first woman journalist, regained her health at the property from 1840 to 1845.

Martineau, famous for her progressive politics and feminist perspectives on marriage, children and domestic life, also used popular fiction to address economic issues such as strikes and taxation.

In addition to 50 books, Martineau penned over 1,600 leader articles on the issue of slavery – to which she was opposed.

She spent two years travelling around America, having arrived during pro-slavery riots. She lent the weight of her (then well known) name to the abolitionist cause – which was seen as a wildly radical move at the time.

At an unveiling of a statue of her in Boston in 1877, Wendell Phillips, in his last public address, said: “It is easy to be independent when all behind you agree with you, but the difficulty comes when nine hundred and ninety-nine of your friends think you are wrong. Then it is the brave soul that stands up, one among a thousand … this was Harriet Martineau.”