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Yorkshire’s old shore
3:41pm Monday 21st May 2012 in History articles
IT is said, writes Alan Whitworth, that North Yorkshire’s coastline truly begins at Staithes and finishes just short of Flamborough Head.
And what a coastline it is – high cliffs, bays, and beaches; headlands, stacks and sea-caves – all of which made this stunning stretch of coast popular with smugglers in the past.
As if that weren’t enough, the coastline has some of the finest Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks in Britain, making it a favourite haunt of fossil collectors too.
Throughout recent centuries, however, the towns and villages that have established themselves on this stark but stunning landscape have been working communities.
Staithes, with its sheltered natural harbour, was once one of the largest fishing centres in England.
The introduction of steam trawlers put an end to that and today there are only a handful of fishermen fishing for crab and lobster and supplementing their income in summer by taking tourists out on day trips.
The arrival of the railways in the 1880s brought the first visitors – and Staithes and Runswick Bay, with their steep cliffs, special light, and higgledy-piggledy houses crammed up and down narrow alleyways, began to attract a new breed of visitor – the artist.
In Runswick Bay & Staithes Through Time, Alan Whitworth, the founding secretary of the Whitby Civic Society and a former art editor of Pennine Magazine, has assembled a stunning collections of photographs old and new of this very special slice of the North Yorkshire coast.
His wealth of local knowledge shines through in the informative captions that accompany them.
One photograph of Runswick Bay, taken by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe in the 1890s, shows how the houses climb up the cliff.
“Life at Runswick Bay can be precarious, as a landslide in 1682 will attest,” Mr Whitworth writes.
“The whole village, with the exception of one cottage, slipped into the sea.
“Unbelievably there were no casualties and the whole community escaped unscathed… Two mourners at a wake, realising what was happening, had quickly alerted the village to the danger.”
There are some wonderful images in this stunning little book. We have room for only a few here.
A group of gentry playing about in a boat owned by the Royal Hotel in the centre of the picture