Spurn Point

As usual from Bro Fred Walkington MBE we had a story well told, well researched and with lots of unique photographs.  This time his topic was the history of Spurn Point involving geology, military installations, and the safety of shipping.

Spurn Point is about 5 km long but only 20 metres wide in places and at high tides is now an island after storms broke through in 2013. As Bro Fred showed on an 1851 map, Spurn was an island back then too after a storm breach in 1849 left a gap of more than 300 metres. Erosion of this slender spit of land was not helped by boats taking away sand for building purposes.

The earliest map Bro Fred showed was a marine chart of the estuary surveyed in 1776 by Captain William Bligh of “Bounty” fame. The Bounty, incidentally, was built in Hull.

The earliest lighthouse at Spurn was built by Smeeton around 1790, ringed by a circular wall protecting keepers’ houses and other buildings inside it. When the wooden piles decayed the structure was first buttressed and finally replaced in 1893 by the black and white lighthouse you can see today.  The lower light which shone westwards was built in the estuary mud in 1852.

Bro Fred explained that the lights no longer operate. He also gave a history of the coastguard and pilot boat operations at Spurn. The coastguard presence ended in 1989 when the Bridlington centre became operational.

The military presence took off in WW1 with the Spurn Fort at the tip, the Goodwin battery at the north end and a railway connecting the two.  A steam loco provided motive power. Bro Fred gave a comprehensive history of the military structures with some wonderful photos. After the army left, a sail was improvised on a wagon to give locals some transport.

Spurn is perhaps best known as the remotest lifeboat station. Again Bro Fred delighted us with a detailed history from personal connections and photographs. His account of the 1953 floods was chilling.

At one time 130 people lived on Spurn Point. There was a school, a post office, and a pub. Paddle steamers brought day visitors. Now, only the RNLI duty crew live there.

Bro Fred recommends a visit to this unique finger of land.  Today, with the storm damage, you either walk, cycle, or take the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust specialist transport.

The vote of thanks was given by Val Walker who thanked Bro Fred for his enjoyable talk that brought back memories of her childhood and family connections to Spurn. Val was one of just a handful of people born at Spurn Point and her family has lifeboat connections there going back to 1900.

Bro Fred’s last photo was the most recent, of Val surrounded by the present Spurn lifeboat crew.