Amble was originally located well to the south of the mouth of the River Coquet, however in March 1764, the river below Warkworth changed its course due to heavy rain. The river sought its most direct route to the sea and broke its banks across a broad meander and as a consequence Amble found itself less than one third of a mile from the new river mouth.
In 1204 the spelling used was Ambell’ and by 1610 it was Anbell’. However by 1769 The modern name of Amble was being used. The name Amble is generally accepted to mean ‘Anna’s Bill’ or ‘Anna’s Promontory’. For a short time in the 1980’s Amble was officially known as Amble-by-the-Sea, however this was dropped in 1985 and the town reverted back to being called Amble.
Amble owes much of its growth and early prosperity to the 19th century coalfields from which it used to ship coal to southern
and the Continent. As
collieries were opened; Amble’s location at the mouth of the River Coquet, and
its railway links to the Northumberland coalfields, made it a centre for the
transportation and export of coal. Prior
to this development the town was little more than a hamlet. The principle local mineworkings were
those at Broomhill and at Radcliffe. Today, the collieries in Northumberland are all
closed (the last, Ellington, closed in 2005), and the railway no longer serves
Other industries, such as ship building and repair, and sea fishing, expanded with the growth of the town, although traditional Northumbrian fishing vessels such as cobles have sheltered in the natural harbour here for many centuries previously.
To the north of the town, along the riverside land known as The Braid was originally the site of a shipyard. Boat building began in Amble at the end of the 18th century when the ‘Chevington Oak’ was built with wood from nearby Chevington Woods. There was also a joinery yard and sawmill on the Braid on the site where the Marina Arms now stands.
The harbour had a brickworks, boatyards, and an extensive network of high-level railway lines serving timber coal staithes around the harbour at the Radcliffe and Broomhill Quays. The town’s railway station was built in 1878 and was approached by a sloping ramp from
Church Street.In the 1930s, when the
RMS Mauretania was heading on her last voyage to the breaker's yard at Rosyth,
the town council of Amble sent a telegram to the ship saying "still the
finest ship on the seas". The Mauretania replied with greetings
"to the last and kindliest port in " England
Today, Amble is Northumberland's most important fishing centre north of the River Tyne. The fishing industry survives, although it has reduced numbers of vessels now, as does a small marine industry - mainly concentrated around the construction and repair of yachts and other pleasure craft. Leisure sailing has also become important and, as well as the marina, the town has a vibrant yacht and boat club. A small industrial estate is located to the southwest of the town, whose clients include food processing plants, vehicle repairs and telecommunications companies. Amble also has a number of good shops including Tesco and Boots, gift shops, and many pubs and fast food outlets. Tourism now forms an important sector of Amble’s economy. Part of the harbour was redeveloped into a marina with secure berths for 250 vessels which opened in 1987. The outer boundary of the marina incorporates one of the original timber jetties from the early harbour as part of the old river bed was reclaimed during construction.