Bridlington’s Maritime Trail

Report on meeting held on 2nd November 2015

The Prior Rick Hudson welcomed members and guests on a foggy evening. There was very nearly a full house to hear Bro Fred Walkington MBE introduce us to the brand new “Bridlington Maritime Trail”.

Bro Fred explained that he had instigated a Bridlington Maritime Trail in 2004 on a tight budget. Recently, money became available from the Fisheries Local Action Group to enhance the experience and he was vice chairman of a committee set up to do this. Work is well in hand and some of the physical waypoints have already been set up, including the much admired statue on the North Pier of the “Gansey Girl” by local artist and Augustinian Bro Steve Carvill.

The first marker Bro Fred showed was a pavement plaque where a spring was discovered by Benjamin Milne in 1811. This was used to provision ships and Bro Fred showed a photograph of water containers being passed to a row boat. Augustinians are always finding out new historical facts. Recently Bro Fred has been able to identify the two little girls on the photograph. They were Ivy and Dorothy Miles.

Bridlington Bay has been known as a “Bay of Refuge” and a “Bay of Safety” since Roman times and provided this benefit in a big way in the days when sailing ships plied our coast. Bro Fred showed a display board which will expand on this. There were trading vessels sailing regularly between Bridlington and London, and “Blue Billy” was a regular visitor delivering coal to Bridlington from Northumberland. The last cargo shipments brought in fertiliser for the now lost Hargreaves factory.

Another pavement plaque depicts the “Seagull” lifeboat which was run by the Sailors and Working Men’s Club. It was considered easier to handle than the RNLI boat. Bro Fred gave a quick rundown on the history of lifeboat stations in Bridlington. Not many people realise that the first lifeboat house in 1805 was where H Samuel is now, at the corner of Chapel Street and Promenade.

Bro Fred talked about the fishing fleets. The herring fleets landed their catches in Bridlington instead of Whitby in 1898 and 1900. But wars, quotas, and bad weather have made fishing a precarious way to earn a living. Garrison Square will house artwork based on a well known depiction of the Great Gale.

But maritime Bridlington has been a place of pleasure as well as pain. The Royal Yorkshire yacht Club was formed in Hull and 1847 and later moved to Bridlington. Large boats with professional crews raced in the bay. Visitors could go out to sea in a range of pleasure boats. The summertime saw locals set up stalls to sell postcards, crabs, buckets and spades.

The vote of thanks was given by Sarah Robins. She expressed delight at Bro Fred’s knowledgeable journey into Bridlington’s maritime past, brought to life by such wonderful photographs. She felt newcomers to the town in particular would have benefited from this talk and will find much to interest them following the Bridlington Maritime Trail.