Saltburn Through The Years

WhereGreat Broughton Village HallType of EventIllustrated Talk
WhenMonday 14th AprilTutorCath and Tony Lynn

Cath and Tony Lynn gave a most interesting review of Saltburn, using a wide range of slides and an entertaining commentary.

Henry Pease, a member of the well-known Darlington Quaker family (with interests in wool, railways, banking and philanthropy), decided that he would add a spur to the existing railway network and develop a purpose-built seaside resort at Saltburn, on land purchased from the Zetland estates. A layout of roads and buildings was prepared and work started in 1861; Alpha Place, the first group of houses, was completed in that year. One of the key features was the use of white facing bricks for the houses, still noticeable today. The road network and sewerage systems were completed by 1870, the station was built and completion of the two major hotels, the Zetland and the Alexandra, followed. Other key buildings were erected, including a magnificent water tower (now demolished), the church, chapel and theatres. In 1899, electricity was brought to the town by generator, with the supply cables being laid underground.

The railway promoted easy access for day trippers, who arrived at a specially designated platform and who had to pass a row of shops on their way to the beach. Under Pease’s influence, a direct rail service to London was initiated and ran for several years.

It was decided to build that most essential Victorian seaside accessory, a pier; it took just 17 months to secure an Act of Parliament, to design and to build the 1,500 feet structure. Some years later, a ship ran aground in heavy weather and destroyed a central section of the pier; it took 10 years to secure compensation and to repair the damage. Access to the pier from the cliff top was initially by a vertical hoist; this was later replaced by the water-balanced lift which is still running today.

The Skelton estates built a footbridge to give access to the far side of the valley; the toll of one halfpenny gave it it’s popular name. However, it also provided an opportunity for those who wanted to end their lives prematurely and 70 suicide jumps were recorded. The bridge was demolished in 1974.

Great efforts were made to create an attractive environment, with public gardens, a spa, a bandstand and a promenade. During its heyday, Saltburn was a very popular and crowded resort. The wide beach was much used for sand yachting and, in the early decades of the 20th century, for car racing.  It still has much charm and has retained its popularity to this day.

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