'Saltburn as it is...'

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1884

As published by the ‘Cleveland News’ 5th July

‘Saltburn as it is’

During the past eighteen months, the “Owners of the Saltburn estate,” as they are now designated, have done much to improve the town and make it more attractive than ever to visitors. That their efforts have met with appreciation is shown by the fact that when they acquired the estate there were some four hundred empty houses in the town, whereas now it is difficult to find an unoccupied dwelling, while the population has increased to close upon 2500.

©Seasalt Designs And the Hilton-Thompson collection


The “”Cleveland News, July 5 1884

SALTBURN, AS IT IS [BY A RAMBLING VISITOR]

I should think there is scarcely anyone who lives within the Tees-side district but knows something of the varied charms possessed by Saltburn, both as a watering-place and a centre of attractive rural scenery. To the residents of our busy iron towns, pent up as they are in cheerless streets, inhaling an atmosphere heavily charged with smoke and chemical fumes, the opportunity of running down to the seaside and spending a few hours amid the pure, balmy air of a healthy summer resort, is akin to entering upon a new existence, and may tend to give the over-burdened toiler a new lease of life. The denizens of Stockton and Middlesbrough are specially fortunate in having within easy reach two such pleasant places as Redcar and Saltburn, to which they may resort at any time at the expenditure of very little trouble or money. The former of these places, being the nearest and most plebeian of the two, naturally attracts the artisan portion of our population; while the latter, being slightly more remote, and very much richer in the variety of its attractions, is, I think, destined to become the resort of the wealthier and more cultured of our citizens. To Redcar I shall for the nonce give the go-by – I shall rush past it as swiftly as steam locomotion will convey me – and will devote my attention exclusively to the task of depicting a few of the improvements which have recently been introduced into the surroundings of its sister-town and rival. The reader of these notes will, therefore, accompany me in imagination as I am set down by the railway company at the terminus of my journey.

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Good Dame Nature has been profuse in the gifts she has bestowed upon Saltburn-by-the-Sea. There is no seaside resort that I know of on the east coast – not even Scarborough, proud as she may be of her old castle, her cliffs, and her spa – for which nature has done more. But art has stepped in, and, with cultivated eye and skilful hand, has touched up the natural beauties of the place till it comes to pass that, no matter in what direction you turn the eye, “every prospect pleases”. Saltburn being a comparatively new town, and built from the outset with a view to attracting visitors from a distance, it possesses advantages which older watering places lack. True, it has within itself none of the picturesqueness which emanates from old ruins or decaying remnants of a feudal age; but it has what is far more important – the fact that hygienic improvements were introduced when first the town was established, something like a quarter of a century ago. Its situation, I am told, is simply perfect – a very important consideration for those who have, in seeking health at other temples of Hygeia, discovered to their cost that they have stumbled upon a pest-house. The town stands at a height of 150ft above the sea level, and thus it has the full benefit of the ozone wafted in from the watery expanse of the German Ocean. The houses are well and substantially built, chiefly of freestone or white brick; the streets are wide, well paved, and well lighted; and its public buildings are all of a pleasing and refined class of architecture, including the Italian style displayed in the exterior of the Zetland Hotel, or the Gothic style as illustrated by the new and still incomplete Church of Emmanuel. But it is not so much of the town itself that I wish to speak as of the immediate surroundings. First let me say that the town was founded by the Saltburn Improvement Company, who from the outset entertained a high estimation of what a seaside resort ought to be. They held the estate 3


till about two years ago, when their interest in it was acquired by the Messrs Pease and Partners, who are now holding it in the same way as they do the Middlesbrough estate – Mr Arthur H Whipham being their principal agent. During the past eighteen months, the “Owners of the Saltburn estate,” as they are now designated, have done much to improve the town and make it more attractive than ever to visitors. That their efforts have met with appreciation is shown by the fact that when they acquired the estate there were some four hundred empty houses in the town, whereas now it is difficult to find an unoccupied dwelling, while the population has increased to close upon 2500. The whole of the improvements I am about to describe have, with one exception, been designed by Mr A H Whipham, M.I.C.E., of Middlesbrough, and have been carried out under the personal supervision of Mr Arthur Griffin. The north side of the steep cliff on which the town now stands has been laid out in zig zag terraces, which intersect each other at odd corners, so that it is now a much more easy matter to reach the beach than formerly. About 150 seats have been placed at intervals on these walks so that the visitor, tired with climbing, may rest himself and view the sea while drinking in the pure atmosphere which prevails all around. Along the foot of the cliff they have constructed a new sea wall and promenade, about 600 yards in length, stretching from Hazel Grove on one hand, to the verge of the Skelton Beck on the other. The promenade is covered with whinstone chippings, which, being levelled and rolled into a solid mass, form an admirable path. Two pretty little shelter-houses stand on this sea wall, so that the visitors who are caught in a shower have not far to go before they are under cover – a very essential provision in our variable climate. The picturesque dell known as Hazel Grove (on the brink of which stands the Convalescent Home, built in 1871 4


by the Messrs Pease) has been well laid out and planted, and looks very pretty just now, the foliage of the trees forming a pleasant shelter from the rays of the sun. As many of my readers are aware, the beach at Saltburn, like that at Redcar, is firm and hard – so much more agreeable to the feet than the loose shifting sand which prevails at Tynemouth and other places on the northern coast. The bathing ground is situate opposite the sea-wall and about a dozen machines stand ready for hire, all being kept very neat and clean by their attendants. Taking a lesson taught by an accident which happened to some bathers a year or two ago, the company have provided, at their own cost, a boat, which is always in attendance at a respectful distance from the machines, so that any bather getting into danger may be promptly rescued. One of the chief improvements which has been introduced on the face of the cliff for the accommodation of the visitors is the new hydraulic tramway, 207 feet long, that runs from the level of the roadway above the end of the pier. This being a new feature, and a great improvement on the old hoist, warrants me giving it a prominent mention. In the face of the cliff there is a natural spring trickling down, and the water it gives out is collected into a huge reservoir at the bottom of the hill. It is then pumped as required by a six horse-power Otto silent gas engine (supplied by Crossley Bros.) to another cistern at the top of the cliff, capable of holding 17,000 gallons (80 tons) of water. The tramway is on a steep gradient, provided with rails of crucible steel, and worked by double steel wire ropes; the peculiar twisting of which – all strands running in one direction – is calculated to bear any reasonable strain without breaking. Two cars run on parallel lines, and each is provided with a tank underneath. The car which happens to be at the top has its tank filled by a conduit with a moveable joint until it overbalances the 5


weight of the bottom car, and then by its own specific gravity it takes the journey downward, the other car, of course, coming upward with its own load of passengers. When the top car is full of passengers and the other empty, of course very little water is required to set it in motion; but the tank is sufficiently large to bring up a heavy load of visitors without much extra strain being put upon the ropes. When the car reaches the bottom it discharges its tank into the cistern, and it is re-pumped to the top, so that very little water is wasted. The cars are comfortably upholstered in red plush, are provided with ornamental glass windows, and are altogether very neat in construction. They have been supplied by the Metropolitan Carriage and Waggon Company, Limited of Birmingham. At the top of the line there is a small cabin for the attendant brakesman, who has to regulate both the speed and the water supply. At the bottom there is an ornamental pavilion, the windows of which are of cathedraltinted glass, and it contains the pay office, with an engine room in one wing and a waiting-room in the other. It will be remembered that some four or five years ago Saltburn pier was damaged in a gale, a considerable portion of the outer end being washed away. The remnant of the pier remained untouched till recently, but it has now been lengthened by 200 feet, the new portion being raise five feet higher than the old pier. It now terminates in a square head 125 feet long by 66 feet broad. The new portion is of superior strength, calculated to resist the force of heavy gales, the piles on which it stands being driven seven feet into the bed of the sea. The deck is 20 feet above high-water mark at spring tides, and 42 feet above the sands. The tide rises from 12 feet at neap to 17 feet at the spring. The total length of the pier is 1250 feet. A spacious wind-screen is erected at the head, of light and ornamental iron-work, glazed, and having a zinc overhanging roof. A 6


band-stand is to be placed at one end, and it is intended that an instrumental band shall play here on certain evenings during the season. From the end of the pier a capital view of the adjacent scenery can be obtained. Redcar pier is easily visible, and on a clear day the port of Hartlepool can be sighted. I may as well mention here that a pleasure committee exists in the town, and with the subscriptions they have collected – the Owners of the Estate being generous contributors – they have engaged the services of a band, to be conducted by Mr Lax, of London. This band will commence its duties on the 1st July, when the season is supposed to commence, and will continue till the end of September, should the weather prove favourable, playing at specified intervals in the gardens, on the pier, and on top of the cliff. Fireworks displays are also in contemplation as a sort of gentle diversion for the later evenings. The Owners of the Estate possess half-a-dozen houses excellently situated on the summit of the cliff, with a splendid view of Huntcliff and the grassy slopes of Cat nab, as well as of the rural scenery behind. These houses have been elegantly furnished throughout, with the prospect of securing visitors of the wealthier class. In one of these houses, which I had the privilege of inspecting, there is a spacious dining-room, backed by a breakfast parlour on the ground floor; a drawing-room of noble dimensions on the first floor, and a good sized bedroom behind it; while on the upper floors there are nine other bedrooms. The furnishings are tasteful and costly, artistic – or shall I say aesthetic? - taste being apparent throughout, and especially in the dining-room. Nobody less than a peer of the realm or a merchant prince could inhabit these apartments, and the cheerful but garrulous housekeeper, who evidently takes a great

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pride in her domain, was particularly emphatic in her predilection for an earl. “Let learning, art and commerce die, But give us back our old nobility.� The couplet exactly expresses the old lady’s sentiments, received, I trow, from a lengthy residence in the castle of one of our oldest northern families. I have yet to mention that at the seaward end of the pleasure gardens the company are erecting a spacious concert hall from the designs of Mr A Waterhouse, the contractor being Mr T. D. Ridley of Coatham. The plans show an elegant and airy structure, the interior being 68 feet long by 40 feet wide. There will be a stage 28 deep, with dressing-rooms below, and it will be fitted up with appliances for dramatic or operatic performances. The edifice will be of brick, with terra-cotta ornamentation. At present the foundations only are put in, but I understand that when complete it will in no way interfere with the sea view from the road above. Access to it will be provided from the public roadway, as well as from the gardens, so that the visitors will be able to visit it without necessarily going through the toll-gates of the company. I have almost run to the end of my tether, and yet I have not said a word about the pleasure gardens, which after all, vie with the sea as one of the main attractions of Saltburn. These gardens now belong to the Owners of the Estate, who have not in any way attempted to interfere with the natural beauty of the place. The old wooden bridge which carried one of the paths over a precipice has been replaced by a new and more substantial one, but otherwise the gardens present the same appearance as of old. The company have 8


secured the services of Mr Barnes, formerly of Kew Gardens, to whom great credit is due for the neat and tidy appearance of the glen. I noticed, in the course of a somewhat hasty visit, that wild roses were profusely blooming at the northern end, but at the opposite extreme cultivated roses in great variety and of superb excellence might be counted in thousands. The Italian garden has just been laid out for the summer, something like 10,000 separate plants being in position, and it looks very pretty. I regret that time and tide, which waits for no man, would not allow me to make a closer acquaintance with the really delightful beauties, natural and artificial, which abound in the place, while, of course, the ample woods, in which aforetime I have wandered for hours, had to be entirely struck out of my list. But after the few hours which I spent in rambling round Saltburn, inspecting its improvements, and enjoying its advantages of sea and sky and scenery, I returned home impressed with the idea that one has but to possess leisure and the “ready rhino� to be able to spend a happy summer in that quiet and congenial little town.

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