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Whitby Villages

Staithes village Yorkshire



Staithes  Staithes is a seaside village in North Yorkshire, England. Roxby Beck, a small river running through Staithes, is the border between the Borough of Scarborough and neighbouring Redcar and Cleveland. Formerly one of the largest and most productive fishing centres in England by the North Sea, Staithes is now largely a tourist destination thanks to its picturesque appearance.

In 1745-1746, Staithes most famous resident, the young James Cook, born in Marton near Middlesbrough, worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his passion for the sea. He later moved to nearby Whitby where he was apprenticed learning his seamanship from a local Whitby family. Later he joined the Royal Navy. William Sanderson's shop, where Cook worked, was destroyed by the sea, but parts were recovered and incorporated into "Captain Cook's Cottage". This has been the residency of a local Staithes family for several generations.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were eighty full time fishing boats putting out from Staithes, locally pronounced Steers as it is known by the Staithes village folk. A hundred years later there is only one left as a father and son fishing operation. Three generations of the Hanson family currently work the lone full time fishing boat. There is a long tradition of using the coble, a traditional locally made fishing vessel, in Staithes.

The beauty of the village has always lent itself to art, as shown by the village's long history of well known painters. The village was home to a small group of twenty to thirty artists known as the "Staithes group" or the "Northern Impressionists." The group contained renowned artists such as Edward E. Anderson, Joseph R. Bagshawe, Thomas Barrett and James W. Booth and was inspired by other impressionists such as Monet, Cezanne and Renoir. Dame Laura Knight became the most famous member of the Staithes Group; she and her husband and fellow painter Harold Knight kept a studio in the village.

Staithes is noted for its sheltered harbour, bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters. A mile to the west, Boulby Cliff is the highest cliff in England. For a brief period Boulby Cliff was mined for alum, a mineral used to improve the strength and permanency of colour when dying cloth. This mining was relatively short lived as a cheaper method was developed soon after the boom in alum mining. The ruined remnants of the mines can still be seen from the cliff top when walking the Cleveland Way between Staithes and Skinningrove.

Staithes village Yorkshire  Staithes  Staithes has long been a destination for geologists researching the ancient Jurassic, often fossiliferous strata in the enormous cliffs surrounding the village. In the early nineties a rare fossil of a seagoing dinosaur was discovered after a rockfall in the cliffs between Staithes and Port Mulgrave to the south. This fossil has been the focus of an ongoing project to remove the ancient bones of the creature. Port Mulgrave remains one of the best places on the northern coast to find fossils of ammonites and many visitors spend hours cracking open the shaly rocks on the shoreline in the hope of finding a perfect fossil specimen.       

Staithes village  The Village of Staithes   The permanent population of the village has dwindled due to more than half of Staithes cottages being owned by outsiders, mostly from big cities such as Leeds and York and now increasingly further afield, all for holidays and breaks in Staithes. During the winter, when there are fewer visitors, it can seem like a ghost town. Though fewer than half of the cottages in the old village are occupied, the traditions of the village have not yet died, many of the local women still wear Staithes bonnets, some can still be bought today in the gift shop in Staithes for the annual nightgown parade. The Staithes Fisher Men's Choir is also still going strong. There is active local participation in the local Royal Navy Lifeboat Institute as lifeboat crew members, with the Porritt Family providing many of the past and present crew members