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History of Newbiggin by the Sea

Chinese bank notes in Newbiggin

Chinese bank note.Newbiggin by the Sea was involved in a series of incidents during the Second World War. One such event occurred during the early years of the war when, unbeknown to everyone, a German submarine was based in Newbiggin Bay, a few hundred yards from the beach. The story was substantiated by the German captain of the U-Boat who came to stay at the Old Ship Inn soon after the end of hostilities.

The submarine's mission was to wait for vessels leaving the Port of Tyne and then sink them. One such ship was loaded with Chinese banknotes manufactured by WD & HO Wills and owned by De La Rue which had a factory on the Coast Road. Hours after the ship being attacked, parts of her cargo began to come ashore on the north-east coast with Newbiggin being one of the major beneficiaries. This came to light when several local pupils who attended the Roman Catholic school in Ashington began to bring whole wads of this authentic-looking currency into classrooms.

So genuine did the notes look that a Bevin Boy based at Ashington managed to pass one off as a ten-bob note at the Grand Hotel. The notes bore the image of Chiang Kai-Scheck, the leader of the Chinese nation at the time.

Newbiggin became a Treasure Island when thousands of Chinese banknotes were washed up on the shore during World War II.In 1996 a travelling Drama company visited Newbiggin schools, dressed as Long John Silver and cabin boy Jim Hawkins who are seen here on Newbiggin beach pointing out where a large amount of 'Treasure' was hidden to some pupils of the then Windsor First School (now John Dobson Campus).

Mike Kirkup 24 January 2011