Pilgrimage to Flamborough

A report on our meeting held on 5th February 2018

Bro Robin Sharpe’s presentation about Flamborough, voiced by Prior Garry Sunley, took us back to a Flamborough of yesteryear. Using his collection of postcards, books and press cuttings followed up with extensive research he was able to paint a picture of a quiet fishing village of ancient origin and the people who lived there.

In 1858 Walter White wrote, “The people generally have good health, which is probably why the last two doctors, finding time hanging heavily on their hands, drank themselves to death”.

But occasionally tragedy struck this peaceful village, as it did 108 years ago to the day.  Bro Robin told how on 5th February 1909 John Cross and his two sons, Robert Cross and Richard Major Cross – aboard the coble Gleaner who were thrown into the raging sea by mountainous waves at North Landing. The crew of the coble Two Brothers, Melchior Chadwick, Thomas Leng Major and George Gibbon, were also lost in the mountainous waves as they tried to save them.

Four of the bodies were soon recovered and about 5000 people attended their funeral. The body of Robert Cross was never found.  Bro Robin has more reason than most to recall this tragedy as he is related to those lost. He showed us the family tree and recalled the lives of some other relatives including Tanton P. Cross who vowed never to go to sea after losing two of his brothers.

Bro Robin used maps to explore some of the other features of this popular headland which has long attracted tourists. A quote from 1908 says the place was “infested with excursionists”. A reference from 1948 finds the Flamborough holiday camps “very popular and thronged with people”.

We visited the remains of Flamborough castle and heard about its history and that of the interesting medieval Constable family. An inscription to Marmaduke Constable is to be found in Flamborough church. Bro Robin showed the church Rood Screen which once adorned the Bridlington Priory church before the dissolution.

Some of Bro Robin’s early memories are of visiting Danes Dyke and also the lighthouse. He related some of the history of the lighthouses, including the original chalk tower, and also the Flamborough Coastguard whose station closed in 2010 after 170 years.

Bro Robin also reviewed the history of the Flamborough lifeboats and some of the men who crewed them. The North Landing station became redundant in 1993.  It was a sad day when the lifeboat “Will and Fanny Kirby” sailed away for the last time.

The Prior Bro Garry Sunley asked Sal Cooke to give the vote of thanks.  She thanked Bro Robin for his meticulously researched talk. She could tell that the names he included of people from the past intensified member’s interest, particularly those members with Flamborough connections.