Monday, 30 June 2014

Another Short Trip - The Reunion

We have just been to our annual reunion with my ex colleagues and this year it was based close to the home of our erstwhile North East trainer. We were all going to stay in a hotel in Saltburn, a seaside resort that I have never been to before. Since it is on the North East coast and we had to pass Bridlington and Flamborough to reach it, we decided it would be interesting for me and The Better Half (TBH) to stop off at those places on the way up. This is because some of my family used to live along this part of the coast and I used to stay with them during some of my school holidays and TBH had never been to that part of the country before.  So it would be a bit of nostalgia for me and somewhere new for TBH. Accordingly, we had booked ourselves into a seafront hotel at Bridlington for one night.  TBH always likes a sea view if at all possible and the hotel we picked gave her just what she wanted.
A room with a view
To the left we could see the harbour and Flamborough Head
 From our room we had a great view of the wide sandy beach and in the distance, the cliffs of Flamborough Head and the lighthouse. The lighthouse is still operating and we could see the beam sweeping around that night.

We arrived in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day wandering around looking for places I could recognise. Since I must have been in my teens when I was last there (and that was quite a long time ago), very little seemed familiar, but it is a pleasant place and we both enjoyed the good weather we had brought with us until evening when we took a meal in the Rags restaurant overlooking the harbour.

The harbour

This round the bay tripper looked familiar, although the name seems to have changed

This picture is from way back showing Bridlington's round the bay tripper, looking rather similar to the one above, apart from the name
Some of the sea front fun palaces seem to have gone a bit Disney since I was last there

Some work was taking place whilst we were there and this rig was part of the wet end of the works, which were taking pipes under the beach to the deep water.
The next morning, we checked out and went on to Flamborough Head. We drove to the lighthouse and right to the tip of the head. On Flambourough Head there is a golf course which, a long time ago, was managed by my uncle. His children, two of my cousins who blog regularly on Blogspot, lived there when they were children.
The present day golf club enterance

I took this picture in 1966 when I was in the area.  This enterance is much further along the road towards the sea than the present entrance

The new clubhouse is very different from the old buildings
I must have spent more time at Flamborough Head than Bridlington, because I found it a lot more familiar and recognised all the places we visited as if nothing had changed in all the mumblty mumble years since I was last there. I was pleased to find that the open areas were still populated with skylarks, something becoming increasingly rare around our home.

Nothing much different here

Or here

This still looks the same

North Landing still looks exactly the same and they may well be the same boats pulled up on the beach
This picture is most likely from the mid fifties

This faded notice is now redundant as all the UK foghorns have been switched off, but when it went off in the night, you were blown out of bed by the sound
By lunch time, we had walked ourselves to a standstill and so reluctantly left to head north. We had intended to visit Scarborough, but when we got there, the traffic was so clogged that we decided to skip it and keep on heading north. Due to the heavy traffic in the outskirts of Scarborough, time had been moving on and we were by now rather missing lunch and so on the road out of Scarborough, we stopped at the Daisy Tea Rooms. This was a very popular place and the car park was quite innocent of any free spaces, always a good sign. We were able to park in the road and found an empty table inside. After a snack, we carried on towards our reunion hotel at Saltburn-by-the-sea, using the coast road and arrived around three PM. We checked in and found some of the rest of our crowd already there and after the greetings and all that goes with seeing a friend you have not seen in a whole year, we went for a quick wander around the sea front. The main business part of Saltburn is on a high cliff or as the locals call it, a 'bank' and you can walk down or use the lift. We walked down, but since it is 120 feet back to the top and we had done a fair bit of walking around Flamborough, we decided to use the lift to return. Saltburn’s cliff lift is claimed to be the oldest working water powered lift of its kind in the UK. This kind of lift is commonplace throughout the world and found at a number of seaside towns where there is a high cliff or in this case a bank.

The water powered lift
 They consist of two cars, on rails running up a slope. The cars are usually on a single cable and counterbalance each other. There are different means of powering them, but the simplest is to have a large tank underneath the passenger area that can be filled with water. The one going up is empty and the one going down is filled to act as a counter weight, so that the heaviest car will pull the other up as it descends. Once each car is respectively at the top and at the bottom, the bottom tank is emptied and the top one filled and the change in weight allows them to swap places. On more recent versions, an electric motor is used to winch them up and down, still counterbalanced to a great extent, but much less efficient than the water counter weight method.
This is the end of the pier
During our walk, we kept encountering our friends who had gathered for the reunion and we stopped and talked each time, making the tour of the place slow but friendly. Saltburn has a small pier which unlike the piers I grew up with, does not have anything on it. I am used to piers with rides and amusements and dancehalls and so on. This one is quite small and stretches out to sea for about 680 feet. Because the beach is quite shallow here, at low tide the pier does not reach the water, so is only useful as a promenade. At most times it is over some water, but it is quite shallow and diving off the pier is not recommended, since a broken neck is not something many people want.

Because the pier is more over hard packed sand and only shallow water, anyone who needs this notice should be nominated for a Darwinian Award. 
Whilst we were there, the World Cup was taking place and some charity group had knitted small players and symbols for all the different teams where they were fixed along one rail of the pier and attracting a certain amount of interest.
Little knitted football heroes from all over the world
Once back at the hotel, we changed and then we sat around and chatted until it was time for dinner. The next day we were to take the steam train to Whitby using the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) and so we got up early for breakfast so that we could be out of the hotel in time to catch the train. Breakfast was served from 7:30, but because the service was overwhelmed by our group all coming down at the same time and despite being there just about 7:30, we only just got out by 9. Because the nearest station for the NYMR only had a small car park, this year’s reunion organiser had decided that it would be best to double up in our cars and travel by road to Grosmont station, a little over half way along the railway’s route. He had reasoned that it gave us a chance to drive across the Yorkshire Moors and see the views and there we would all be able to find a parking space.

On the North Yorkshire Moors. The Beggar's Bridge. A medieval bridge with a legend attached to it
We drove across the moors in a convoy of six cars and arrived in time to see our train approaching the platform and steaming gently, waiting to be coupled to the carriages. It had a plaque on the front that I found interesting, since it showed that it had been built in my home town in 1956, possibly one of the last to be built there. The railway works which had been a very large part of our town is now a retail outlet centre that attracts visitors from all the nearby towns that do not yet have a retail outlet centre of their own. By the food outlets of the shopping mall there is an almost identical engine stood by the tables and chairs. It may not be identical exactly, but it is big and painted green, has lots of big wheels and a big thing to put the coal in at the back, so to my eyes it looks the same.

Our train approaching
At Whitby we all went our separate ways and dispersed across the town. Whitby is one of my favourite seaside towns and once more TBH had not been there before, so I showed her around and we had a pleasant morning exploring.
We did not go up the one hundred and ninety nine steps, but visited the old town area below them. The sun was out and I believe that this day was the hottest day of the year so far. Since the North East coast can be very cold, even in summer we were very lucky.

Doing tours around the town is an ancient steam lorry, converted into a bus. We did not ride on it but some of our fellow reunionists did and found it a very bumbpy ride
We went to the Quay side restaurant for the mandatory fish and chips, but because we were going to have a large meal that evening, we had a single round of bread and butter between us instead of chips. The fish was as expected, very fresh.

I just could not resist this wonderful legal firm's name
At about two PM we went back to the station and met up with our group. There was a slight mix up at this point, because one of our group is disabled and needed to go into the goods van via a ramp, the only access for wheel chairs. The NYMR organisers had reserved a coach for the rest of the group which was supposed to be adjacent to the disabled access, but which turned out to be several coaches along and not everyone managed to find it.

 As a result some of the train was crowded at one end whilst the reserved coach had empty seats.
Our return train which was built in Newcastle on Tyne
We arrived back at Saltburn around three and TBH and I had time to explore the top part of the town.

Next morning, we checked out and headed for Beamish open air Museum. This is one of those places where an old otherwise abandoned industrial site has been converted into a museum by transferring historical buildings piece by piece and brick by brick to rebuild a community as it would have been back in time, some buildings and houses being Victorian, some as recent as WWII. Beamish is on quite a large site and has a town, a colliery and a farm amongst other things. One of the things that these museums do for me is to make me realise how old I am because so many of the exhibits are familiar. I grew up at a time when many houses still had outside loos, solid fuel cooking ranges and open fires in every room but the kitchen, where the range provided the warmth. The older generation of great aunts and great uncles still lived like that and so even in 1900s replica houses the interiors in them were familiar to me from visits to my own family. One house was made up for WWII period and that was frighteningly familiar right down to the old Anderson bomb shelter in the back garden just like the one we used during air raids. There is a tramway in Beamish and a motor bus service that runs all around the site which you can use to get from place to place. This is more or less a necessity because the site is so large it would take a long time to walk.

The replica Old Bill bus based on the1912 version
A very old style of tram.  The ones I remember had glass windows and the driver was inside
We were able to ride on several of these at different times and again some of it was frighteningly familiar. I can remember as a child riding on the London trams and I always wanted to look closely at the fascinating big shiny brass controls. In Beamish I was able to have a much closer look than when I was just a kid who was discouraged from getting too close. They had two busses running that day, a single decker and a double decker Old Bill kind of open top bus. The Old Bill type of bus had been requisitioned to carry troops in WWI, but this one, I was disappointed to find, was a replica built in 1988. All in all it was a fun, but scary day, even having a pig sty full of pigs on the farm, just like my childhood home. Yes, I grew up with pigs, which probably accounts for some of my poor manners! After our trip to Beamish, we went on to look for the hotel at Birtley where we were all booked in for the night and in a convoluted drive around some of the most northern parts of the A1M road junctions, which took us close to the Angel of the North, we found our hotel.

Hard to miss and impressive simply because of its size, but in my list of great art, it falls way below Scotland's Kelpies and Morecombe's Eric.

That evening was the last supper for that year’s reunion and we frightened off all the other diners with our slightly rowdy behaviour as farewell speeches and so forth went on until quite late. Late that is for a bunch of pensioners who find museum exhibits more familiar than some of modern day life. In the morning, we bade our farewells and started on our approximately 300 mile journey home. It was a good trip, with few roadworks and no stationary traffic which is something of a record for any long road trip in the UK.


  1. Oh great memories for me Snafu! You're right about the name change of the boat. I would love to have copies of the old golf clubhouse in 1966. I haven't seen that one before. Also, I wouldn't mind a copy of the photo of Bridlington Harbor with the headland in the background and also the one of the harbor pier and crabpots, if you really wouldn't mind. That particular pier used to be called 'the chicken run'. I have no idea why. Great photos and definitely interesting blog. Thanks for the memories!!

    1. I only remembered I had that 1966 photo when I started putting the blog together. Took me a while to find it.

  2. I have a photo of me at North Landing in about 1966. I must look it out. Of course I know most of the area you've described, although I've not been to Beamish. The ride on Elizabeth the Steam Bus was indeed bumpy - but worth the experience. Great blog post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a wonderful walk down memory lane, snafu....thanks! And you have some great photos, a few my sister and I have never seen before. So glad you are able to send her the sd card...i will partake of it when we are together at the end of August. The photo of the old club house and our home is a classic, I guess you or someone in your family must have taken it - never seen it before. So glad you and TBH had a great time and thanks for letting us share the journey!