This stretch of the north-east coast of England was once a hive of smuggling activity, and Saltburn-By-The-Sea became a particular focal point for smuggling largely courtesy of a Scotsman called John Andrew who moved to Saltburn in the 18th century and became landlord of the Ship Inn in 1780, which he turned into a ‘command centre’ for the area’s smuggling trade in partnership with a local brewer. He must have made an impression on his granddaughter, because it was she who christened him “King of the Smugglers”. So devious was he that he managed to infiltrate the local militia who were occasionally roped in to help catch the smugglers at the same time as carrying on his illicit activities!
Saltburn-By-The-Sea, like so many other resorts, made the transition from fishing village to resort thanks to the coming of the railway. The town’s website has some fascinating old images of its early days as a resort. Among the attractions built in Saltburn for the benefit of visitors is Britain’s oldest hydraulic cliff lift, built in 1844. The lift continues to operate today, as does the pier, opened in May 1869. The pier managed to attract 50,000 paying visitors during the first six months after its opening. The nation’s seaside piers have always proved vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather and other disasters, and Saltburn’s pier is no exception. In October 1875 300 feet of the pier was washed away during a savage storm and the missing section was never replaced. However, this calamity does not seem to have done the pier too much harm: in 2009 it was the recipient of the National Pier Society’s Pier of the Year award.
For a list of events in the town, see here.
Map of the area.