History - The Quaint Side of Allonby
At first sight Allonby appears to be just one long straggly street with most of the houses on the landward side of the main road. If you make the effort though and get out of the car there are quite a few surprises. The village owes much of its development to the Quakers, many of whom lived here or had family connections.
The large brick building on the roadside which is in a bad state of repair was The Reading Rooms It was designed by a young Quaker called Alfred Waterhouse an architect from Manchester. This gentleman later designed the Natural History Museum in London and in total contrast Strangeways Prison as well. It has recently been purchased privately to be made into a house.
Behind the main street there is the old cobble road which was the main road through Allonby at one time. Facing into the square is a splendid building called The Baths.It was built by a group of well to do Quakers in or around 1830. Sea water was pumped up to the baths every day and it was very popular with the Victorians. It displays a majestic portico facing into the cobbled square and looks totally out of place here.
Operated by another Quaker family called Beeby The Fish Yards was a very prosperous business. Here, the catch of herring was gutted and salted daily. Barrels were made on the spot at the cooperage and the herring packed away into them. In later years this range of buildings became a Riding School, and their horses roamed freely around the village
Thomas Richardson, a Quaker and Banker in London, married an Allonby girl Martha Beeby in 1799. To provide a holiday home for his family, in the 1830s he built at the north end of the village a large house called North Lodge. It was a fine house and at either side of this were six cottages where local widows and spinsters could live rent free. The main house had a fine central staircase which was spoiled somewhat when it was converted into 4 flats.
Thomas Richardson also built the school at Allonby and endowed it with money to be spent on training bright pupils to be student teachers.
It is a fine building made of sandstone, very solid and traditionally built. It is a thriving little school and recently had the good fortune to get a grant to extend into the playground where a large hall, dining room and extra classroom were added. Eventually the charity was taken over by the Charity Commissioners but defying all the odds it is still on the go today. The amount of money to be spent each year has naturally decreased in value but villagers are proud to serve as Trustees. On the original Board of Trustees there were two member of the Williamson family and there are still two members serving as Trustees today, (albeit not the same two!) There are no student teachers now but the charity still follows the aims of the original endowment by giving grants to students wishing to go into higher education.
Also to be found near the north end of the village is the former Friends Meeting House, where the Allonby Quakers worshipped. It was originally a cottage, but such was the number of members living in the village that in 1703 it was converted into the meeting house and extended in 1732. It was used for worship until 1991 when it was sold and converted back into a dwelling.