Picture credit: Kevin Truelove (IFY community)
“I’m a bit claustrophobic, I don’t like crowds, I live by the sea- that’s what I see when I come out of my house in Bridlington.”– David Hockney
Bridlington is a coastal town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, with a population of 35,000. It is best known for being a fishing port and throughout the summer months, a tourist destination. It is situated at the mouth of the Gypsey race river, which runs intermittently through the Yorkshire Wolds. At the point in which this river runs into the North Sea lies Bridlington Harbour, an important place for both its industries. It exports shellfish, crabs and lobsters to hotels in continental Europe, which is an important part of the local economy, as well as providing visitors with a stroll down its pier and magnificent sea views.
Bridlington has many landmarks and tourist attractions, to go with its large, sandy beach and stunning views of places up the coast, like Filey Brigg, Flamborough Head and on a clear day, Scarborough. Bridlington Priory was built in 1113 and favoured by kings and nobles during the middle ages. It was dissolved and partly destroyed in 1538, leaving just the nave, which became an ordinary parish church. In the mid-19th century, it was restored to its current form by George Gilbert Scott. The other remnant from the ancient priory, the gate house, is home to the Bayle Gate Museum, which displays the history of Bridlington and life in 14th Century Yorkshire. Sewerby Hall, a Georgian country house is located two miles out of the town. It has been open to the public since 1936 and houses both the the East Yorkshire and the Coastguard museums. Its cliff top location also has a small zoo, gardens and an 18-hole golf course. Those with a sweet tooth may like to visit the John Bull factory at nearby Carnaby, with demonstrations and the chance to make your very own stick of rock.
Bridlington Spa was built by The Whitaker Brothers of Leeds and opened in 1896. It has since had a colourful history, having to be restored twice due to fire damage in 1906 and 1932. However it has remained one of the largest entertainment venues on the East Coast and hosts top international acts, rock concerts, sporting events and local functions. The venue was refurbished and updated between 2005-08 with modern technical equipment added to the Royal Hall and Theatre plus an increase to their capacities. Furthermore conferencing facilities, larger kitchens and a new main entrance were added during this time.
Bridlington is linked by two major roads, the A165 Hull- Scarborough Road, which bypasses the town and the A614 road towards Market Weighton and Howden. Its railway station was built as part of George Hudson’s masterplan in 1846 and like other towns on the East Coast attracted holidaymakers from the other Ridings of Yorkshire during this time. There are nine local buses and six services to other places, such as York, Beverley and Hull. The town also boasts three land trains, which stops at important locations, such as The North Beach, Sewerby Hall and Leisure World sports centre. These are called The Yorkshire Lass, the Yorkshire Lad and The Yorkshire Rose.
Apart from the usual gift shops and kiosks, to be found on the seafront, the town of Bridlington has a diverse range of shopping, with the Promenades centre at its heart, hosting a variety of high street stores and fashion shops. The Old Town is full of independent traders and has a thriving market, for those looking for an alternative retail experience. Every year there is a Christmas Market, which runs from late November and has a Dickensian theme, with stallholders dressing up in period costume.
The town has one semi-professional football team, Bridlington Town, who share their Queensgate ground with Scarborough Athletic. The club re-formed in 1994 after running into financial difficulties and at the time of writing play in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. Uniquely Bridlington has only one of three petanque’ clubs, a form of French boules, in Yorkshire, the others being in Doncaster and the East Riding village of Brandesburton. Leisure World, a multi-sport centre, located on the seafront is, at the time of writing closed because of a major £20m re-development, to include three swimming pools, health suite, gym and squash courts to name but a few. It is due to re-open in 2015.
The town also has a lively nightlife, with nightclubs, bars and pubs around its harbour, seafront and old town to go with the ever-popular Spa.
Bridlington is a refined coastal town, offering something for everybody, the trappings of a traditional resort and a place to enjoy the Yorkshire Coast in peace.
The first mention of Bridlington (or Bretlinton) was in the Doomsday book of 1086; however, there is evidence to suggest that the town has existed since ancient times. The nearby Danes Dyke dates back to The Bronze Age, while Greek and Roman coins have been found near the harbour area along with an ancient road into the town.
Bridlington priory was founded in 1133 by Walter de-Gant, the great nephew of King Stephen, who granted the town the right to become a port. One of the former canons of the priory in the 14th Century was John Twenge, who would later be known as St John of Bridlington. He was known for his miraculous healing powers and general holiness, using these to reportedly saving five Hartlepool fishermen from a shipwreck off the coast of Bridlington and turning water into wine.
Originally Bridlington was split into two separate settlements, which have merged together, one based around The Old Town and the other near the harbour area. In addition to its fishing trade the town grew on the transport of corn, through its exchange, built in 1826. The town developed into a tourist destination after the coming of the railways in 1846, and enjoyed its heyday in the latter part of the 19th Century and Early 20th. This culminated in the construction of the Spa during these times and the other trappings of the modern seaside town of which it is today.
The Domesday Book is the first mention of Bridlington that we have. The book calls it Bretlinton. Probably the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon custom of naming the town after a person but no one is sure which name. Candidates put forward are Bretal or Bridla or Berthel. The word ingtun is the Saxon term for a farm. Later it was called Burlington and eventually Bridlington.
The town was, at one time, two separate settlements but as tourism became more popular in the 19century the settlements merged and expanded. The Old Town is a mile in land.
Bridlington is twinned with two towns. Millau in France and Bad Salzuflen in Germany.
The Great Gale was a severe storm which occurred in February 1871. Its focus was in Bridlington Bay. The RNLI life boat was put out of action trying to save the lives of the seamen. The fisherman’s life boat was also overturned and six of the nine crew died. Twenty eight ships were wrecked on the north east coast and over fifty people died. There is a memorial obelisk dedicated to the tragedy in Bridlington Priory Churchyard.
Queen Henrietta Maria of France landed at Bridlington in 1643 with troops to support the Royalist cause in the English Civil War.
During the 19 century a Chalybeate spring was discovered. These iron rich waters were said to be heath promoting. Many people came to Bridlington to imbibe the waters and the town became a popular holiday resort for the industrial workers of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The town motto is Signum Salutis Semper which means, Always the Bringer of Good Heath.
Bridlington’s Town Crier, David Hinde, is officially the World’s Loudest Recorded Town Crier. In August 2013 he was recorded to produce sound at 114.8 db.
Bridlington Spa was opened in 1896 and became a leading entertainment venue. David Bowie, Morrissey, The Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, The Script and Joe McElderry have all appeared there.
Bridlington Town FC, founded in 1918, won the FA Vase in 1993.
Film director and screen writer Mark Herman was born in the town in 1954. His best known works are Brassed Off, Little Voice and The Boy in Stripped Pyjamas.
Bridlington annually hosts the National Domino Championships. Scuffles broke out between rival fans one year and this is noted to be Britain’s only case of ‘Domino Hooliganism’.
The official museum of the East Riding of Yorkshire is located in Bridlington. It has a collection of memorabilia linked to the exploits of the aviator Amy Johnson.