Keeping up Ap-pier-ances

This year – 2019 – sees the 150th birthday celebration of the opening of Saltburn Pier. It was originally thought that the pier was opened to the public in May 1869 but more recent research suggests that this is incorrect. No dates of an official opening ceremony or celebrations have been found but on Monday 3rd May an article in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle stated that there were ten more yards of the pier to be added to its length. On July 5th the same newspaper reported that the pier was ‘so near completion that steamboats can land their passengers’. On the 14th July the Pier Company were advertising for two registering turnstiles. However, by the end of July it is clear that the pier was open to everyone and attracting many visitors. To ease the access to the pier and promenade from the town, work had begun on a 120 foot high wooden vertical hoist, also designed by John Anderson. Although reports claimed that the hoist was being ‘rapidly proceeded with’ and it was expected to open soon after the completion of the pier it did not come into operation until the following year.

On May the 8th 1869 The York Herald printed a short report on the New Bridge (The Halfpenny Bridge) which was being built across the glen and was nearing completion despite a tragedy which had occurred in April resulting in the loss of three lives. The report concluded by saying “The sea pier, too, is nearly complete, there being only ten yards more to add to its length, which will then make it stretch 1,500 feet into the sea. At the entrance to the pier, which is immediately below the cliffs, a hydraulic lift is being constructed, which will be capable of raising or lowering about a dozen persons at a time the distance of 120ft. In two months the lift will be in use.”

The Storm

One of the main reasons for the delay seems to have been the severity of the weather experienced along the Northern coastline at this particular time. The daily weather report (see above) for Tuesday/Wednesday 14th and 15th June alludes to gale force winds and high seas but gives little insight into the events which actually occurred along the coastline at that time.

Fortunately a number of newspapers carried a report of the storm. On 24th June 1869, The Southern Reporter, a Selkirkshire newspaper, gives a long and detailed account of the storm that hit and the loss of life along the sea coast which “exceeded anything ever known to have occurred at the same season.”

“Accounts of the most distressing character come from the sea coasts in connection with the storm of Tuesday last week, which seems to have been unparalleled by any midsummer storm for very many years. In Selkirkshire a storm of rain, snow and wind, was experienced in June thirteen years ago, but that of last week greatly exceeded it in violence.”

“The loss of life on the sea coast exceeded anything ever known to have occurred in the same season.” The article then proceeds to give details of some of the wrecks and loss of crew along the whole coast from Berwick, to the Tyne, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Saltburn.

LOSS OF LIFE AT SALTBURN BY THE SEA

“Soon after daybreak on Wednesday morning, one of the fishing boats, with a crew of three men and a boy, became unmanageable, and after the crew had battled with the breakers a considerable time unsuccessfully, the boat sank, one man only being saved. He floated to shore resting on a pair of oars. His name is James Moore, of Hartlepool. Another boat with the whole crew, six in number, sank about eight o’clock immediately opposite Hazel Grove. A third ran aground beside Church Howe (Howle), all the crew being saved.”