Saltburn is a quintessential Victorian seaside town. It has a cliff lift (or ‘inclined tramway’ to be technical) dating back to 1884, a profusion of grand hotels, pubs and churches from the Victorian era, and gems like an inn by the beach dating from the 1400s and the Grade II listed mortuary building from 1881 (built to prevent the need for bodies to be stored at said inn by the beach).
In the Victorian era, when workers were first being given holidays from work (with the creation of ‘bank holidays’ – days when banks and offices were closed), an increase in disposable income, and the gradual normalisation of rail travel, seaside towns flourished. For many industrial towns and cities, there were beaches close enough by that they could be reached by train and returned from the same day, meaning that a family would not need to spend extra money on accommodation.
Saltburn flourished around the desire of Victorians to spend time at the seaside, as was the fashion. Many of the grander buildings and attractions were built at that time and to satisfy particular needs of the town’s development.
Saltburn Cliff Lift
Opened in 1884, replacing a previous, much less safe, invention, the cliff lift was built to transport people from the town above to the beach below – the height of the lift is 120ft, so you can imagine the difference in elevation between the beach and the town, and why the amount of steps needed to climb that height was not the most appealing of ideas.
Both cars have tanks fitted beneath, and the car at the top of the incline has its tank filled with water until the difference in weight between the cars is such that it begins to move down the incline, pulling the other up at the same time.
Opened in 1869, the pier at Saltburn is today the last remaining one in Yorkshire, and is Grade II listed. After devastating storms in the winter of 2013, the building on the pier, which houses an arcade and has benefited from around £250,000 of investment by the current lease-holder, suffered both structural and extensive superficial damage, and will remain closed for the foreseeable future. (More damage to Saltburn seafront can be seen [here].)
Previously Saltburn pier had made the news when in 2012, a long, knitted decoration appeared tied to the railings along the pier. The unknown artists, who later gained the nickname The Yarn Bombers, had knitted various scenes in sections, celebrating the London 2012 Olympics. After much consternation when the decorations disappeared, a new section later reappeared including several seaside themes and even a Doctor Who theme.