REDCAR – As It Is
Accreditation The Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 11/10/1872.
REDCAR AS IT IS
As a sequel to the description we gave last week of Redcar, as it was seventy years ago, we propose to give a slight sketch of Redcar as it is. In commencing, we must know however premise, the talk is much more difficult this week than it was last, such a wonderful change has time effected on the smuggling village of seventy years ago; moreover, we have grave doubts whether our readers in at least the majority of them, will take such lively interest in passing events when brought under their notice in the shape of an article, as the relation of the eccentric conduct of the good natured officers, W-, F-, and H-., or of the dashing feats of the “Lark,” lugger is calculated to excite. In these prosaic times, the daring female with the smuggled keg no longer holds a place, her nearest representative is the maid of all-work, carrying home the dinner ale, and now, as formerly accosted by the conniving officer of the law, although, perhaps some susceptible member of the Redcar “force” may have his eye on her. But of course we must expect wonderful changes in seventy years. Blatherwick’s “Abbey,” no longer stands, although the name is perpetuated in the summer by a stand on the sands where pennies and traps may be hired at so much the hour. Thatch and whitewash are transformed into the more substantial, if not quite picturesque, slate and brick, and the bold smuggler inhabitant sinks or rises (to suite the taste of the reader), into the trafficker in apartments, whose solicitous placard will hardly arouse suspicion of “secret places of stowage.” We might watch in vain for the King’s frigates booming in the distance, their place is supplied by “screws” from Middlesbro’, bearing the iron treasures of the locality to distant ports. “Hollands,” is an obsolete tipple which has long since given place to “Nicholson’s gin,” increasing the consumption of which, amongst other strong drinks, we have lately been put under some, perhaps salutary restrictions. But were we to attempt to trace step by step the progress of Redcar, our task would be an hopeless one: suffice it to say, that it has now developed into a fashionable watering place, with two piers, a local board, a promenade, bathing machines, two local papers, handsome shops, libraries and other attractions too numerous to mention. The dark contrabandista has long ceased to haul his boat up the lonely sands, sands no longer lonely, but dotted with all the familiar sights of a sea-side resort; the pleasure boats, the bathing machines, the young ladies with neat chignons as yet un-dipped, or as the case may be we hope we shall be forgiven the insinuation, as yet un-hung on the bathing machine peg; the housemaids with their troublesome charges, made still more troublesome by the vigorous health infused by the sea air; paterfamilias lounging, cigar in mouth and casting his business and family cares to the winds; the crowd round the fishing boats to inspect the catch just landed, and watch the Dutch auction commencing, perhaps with the enquiry, expressed in genuine Yorkshire of “wea’ll gie ave an twenty shillun fott” and ending with monosyllable “het,” when the owner comes low enough to suit the pocket of some buyer; the donkeys, of which more hereafter: the amphibious dog who comes and shakes his dripping sides in rather unpleasant proximity to your clothes, and conveys by his wistful looks a request that you will once more send him into the water on an errand to fetch your stick, and many more scenes which fill up the pleasant summer days.
Never have Redcar and Coatham had so successful a season. Undeterred by the almost daily down pour of rain, visitors have kept into the place, and defying Jupiter Pluvius, have yielded themselves to the embraces of Neptune. Creak, rattle and splash, all day long, seldom have the bathing machines so well earned their winter’s rest, not can the owners of the lumbersome vehicles have gone into winter quarters with more satisfaction, or the unfortunate quadrupeds, which have supplied the motor power to the same vehicles with less. They are other quadrupeds who have also to feel aggrieved at the treatment they have received during the season, we refer to the hack horse, and most of all the donkeys, the latter especially enlist our sympathies, as we can see one of them laden with a hundredweight and a half of cheap trip humanity, pursued merciless boy with a thick stick, not unfrequently armed also with a pit, a sight more painful than edifying: although one cannot help being amused sometimes at seeing a “cheap tripper” undergoing the process; (in most cases we can hardly say enjoying the exercise) of equitation. The boatmen too have driven, or rather rowed and sailed a lively trade; the stentoriau voice of a well known stalwart child of the ocean, no doubt a descendant of one of the bold smugglers mentioned last week, has, we think, oftener been heard repeating the well known cry “any more going.” We have counted fishing parties innumerable outside the West Scar, and the whiting and haddock’s still left in their native element must have to mourn the loss of many missing relatives and friends, although doubtless as the proverb says, “there are good fish left in the sea as ever came out of it.” And have we not had a regatta, or rather did not hundreds of people from all parts assemble on our promenade to see the regatta, which unfortunately, on account of the inappropriate state of the weather, did not come off that day, except such part thereof as could be represented by a lifeboat race: which was itself of greater interest than an ordinary boat race; and an agricultural show, to which Miss Kate Radcliffe fame as a horsewoman, assisted in attracting thousands.
Surely after all this “life” the inhabitants must feel that Redcar and Coatham are progressing and will settle down to the comparative quiet winter days with satisfaction, but winter is not what it used to be here as far as the place is concerned, of late years the number of fixed inhabitants has greatly increased, owing to the development of the manufacturing towns in the neighbourhood the streets are no longer dull and deserted during the winter months. A stream of business men flows to the railway station every morning and from it in the evening: and houses for the regular inhabitants are in great demand, in Coatham especially, house building is on the increase, and many substantial and elegant structures have within the last few years been built there, and many more are likely to be built. What Redcar and Coatham may be seventy years hence, few of us will live to see, but it does not seem the least improbable that the then inhabitants may be able to look back at one present underdeveloped state, with as much curiosity as we now recall the annals of seventy years.
When Blatherwick’s “Abbey,” and other land marks by which we recall the past have been wiped away from the memory of man as well as from the face of the earth, the dwellers in the Redcar and Coatham of the future may delight to recall the time when the two places only contained a paltry 3,000 inhabitants. When the sands were promenaded by young ladies in “Dolley Varden” hats and costumes; when Redcar and Coatham were as jealous of each other as if their interests were directly antagonistic, instead of precisely identical, causing them to vie with each other in the erection of promenade piers; when the places were lighted by a very moderate quality of the antiquated illuminator called gas; when the principal public buildings the places contained, were a converted railway station, and disestablished Wesleyan chapel; when the working man was only beginning to agitate for the increased wages which enable him to bring his family to the sea-side for the summer.; when meat was a shilling a pound, and a barbarous and wasteful system of cookery prevailed; and when iron was extracted from the stone by means of lumbrous erections called blast furnaces, concerning the near approach of which the people of Coatham were beginning to be solicitous. To all these things may the finger of posterity point back, with as much curiosity and interest as we look back on the smuggling days of seventy years ago.
July 26, 2011 Redcar