REDCAR – How Redcar Grew in King’s Reign 1935

Accreditation Cleveland Standard 1935

How Redcar Developed in King’s Reign

(Special to the “Standard.”)

 A story of a park that was built on a refuse dump, a Roman Catholic Chapel that became a laundry, a whale that troubled the sanitary authorities and almost became a dug-out during the war. These are just a trio of a multitude of interesting things to be found in a casual glance at the history of Redcar during the past 25 years.

Not many towns have developed so much as Redcar has done during the past 25 years from being a small village with a population of possibility less than 10,000 people it has become a flourishing borough and a veritable jewel among seaside resorts of the North-East Coast set in the midst of an industrial area yet not so deeply as to be begrimed or spoilt by the dirt and squalor of Industry.

           To-day Redcar has a population of well over 22,000. In a quarter of a century it has registered a progress of a magnitude that has reflected only by a comparison of present day Redcar with the Redcar of Yesteryear.

          The your of to-day find it difficult to imagine for instance, Redcar without Dormanstown. Yet when King George ascended to the throne of England Dormanstown was “a thing undreamed of” . . . a medley of green fields. Nor will the younger generation of Redcar find it easy to imagine the present Wesleyan Chapel in West Dyke as, as it once was a laundry. Actually the chapel was built about 40 years ago by the late Canon Riddell as a Roman Catholic Church. It was abandoned, however, and for many years it was a derelict building which served no useful purpose.

          Then the business instinct decided that a place originally intended to be a shrine for the cleansing of souls would make an ideal site for cleaning of dirty linen, and so it became a laundry!

          Houses, at the time, were just beginning to spring up in the region of West Dyke; Coatham ended at York Terrace, and Redcar ended at Touchwood, at the end of Granville Terrace. Beyond that were the remains of the site of the old battery and the ammunition house, while beyond that the lovely Zetland Park, along with a number of fishermen’s allotments.

          The approach to the houses in Easson Road in West Dyke was along an almost impassable road reminiscent of centuries ago when even Walter Raleigh’s cloak would have served no useful purpose in the bridging of a knee-depth of mud.

          This “way” was flanked on one side by a ditch which has now been covered in.


          Warrenby was almost a self contained community, made up of the men who were employed at the works on the blast furnaces of which, at the time, there were three in operation. It was a small isolated place.

          Redcar High Street has also seen some great changes during the past 25 years, and with these changes there has been an alteration in the character of the population.

          With the exception of a few people all the trades people in the town lived over their shops. There were nothing like the number of shops in the High Street that there are now, most of the premises which flanked the street being old-fashioned residences with bay-windows.

          The building in which this article is being written was once a bay-windowed house


           Where the Central Picture House stands was a “Central Hall” where dancing and other social functions took place.

            The of course, we have seen the development of the Coatham Enclosure and the Swimming Pool and Baths, also Locke Park.

            And through all these changes, through a process of really rapid development, we do, I believe, find that this Jubilee Year is the year for Redcar to become known through-out the country as a seaside resort with a pride of place on the map.

            At the same time it should not be forgotten that what was formerly an Urban District Council is now a Borough Council and that we have out own Mayor.

            There have lived some fine men in Redcar . . . real “English gentlemen,” and perhaps it would be wise to mention first the names of that fatherly person, the Rev. J. Groves, who I believe was Vicar of what was then the Parish of Redcar, 25 years ago.

            Other names that flash willynilly into my mind are those of T. Picknett, William Upton, “Stip” Picknett, Colonel Locke, J.P. J. E. Stead, Mr. A. O. Cochrane, Lord Zetland, H. W. Hudson., J.P. T. W. Ridley, and last but by no means least, the name of “Bob” MacClean, the late Town Clerk of Redcar, who, it is acknowledged generally, led Redcar to its present important status.

            It is regrettable that the passing of these years there has been a breaking of the traditional features of the town.

            Where once there was a large number of families who earned their bread and butter as “fisher-folk” we find, save a few isolated instances, that instead of breathing the fresh sea air at their work they are now sweltering in the mechanical heat of the steel foundries of the district.

            Older residents in the district will no doubt, recall that amusing (though possibly “tainted”) incident just before the War when a whale was washed ashore at Redcar and after considerable difficulty, it was buried behind the battery.

            During the War however, when dugouts were being made there the spade-workers found that they had dug into the whale!



dean March 26, 2010 Redcar