Picture Credit: Kevin Gray (IFY Community)

“Betwixt it’s more famous cousins, Bridlington and Scarborough, it is often – and to it’s benefit – overlooked.”


Filey is a small coastal town on the East Coast of Yorkshire with a population of 6,981 according to the 2011 Census. Surrounding Filey is its more illustrious neighbours Scarborough and Bridlington.

Over the years, Filey has become a popular town in its own right.

People travel here to seek a quieter seaside experience. It’s also known for its tourism and fishing.

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Butlins in Filey

For over 40 years, Filey was best known for being home to one of the ten British Butlins holiday camps with its own railway station. However, due to a decline in visitors it closed in 1983. The site has now been re-developed into “The Bay”, a 600 home holiday park which is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Walking Routes in Filey

Filey is the end point for five major walking routes in Yorkshire. These are:

  • The Yorkshire Wolds Way from Hessle
  • The Centenary Way from York
  • The Cleveland Way from Helmsley
  • The East Riding Heritage Way from the Humber Bridge
  • The Great Yorkshire Bike Ride from Wetherby

Places to Visit in Filey

These walks often end at Filey Brigg which is a peninsular one mile north of the town and is a site of special scientific interest. Its cliffs are 20m high and made of limestone and sandstone rocks.

Filey Brigg

Filey Brigg by Brian Harvey Dickinson (IFY Community)

Filey Brigg is heavily eroded by the sea. In the past, this has created major landslides with the last being recorded in 1869. Since then however, it has continued to slowly erode.

The rock that fell off the end of the Brigg pushed the clay below sea level. This was then eroded by the saltwater to form Filey Bay and consequently the large sandy beach enjoyed by many today.

Filey Brigg Country Park

In the early 1970’s Filey Brigg Country Park was developed. It was designed with its spectacular cliff-top walks in mind along with a campsite and miniature golf course.

Carr Naze

The landward end of the Brigg is known as Carr Naze. This is a popular place for birdwatchers for viewing specific species such as Oystercatchers, Purple Sandpipers, and Atlantic Puffins.

Bempton Cliffs RSPB Nature Reserve

At the southern end of the bay lies the beginning of Bempton Cliffs RSPB Nature Reserve. Here you’ll find the largest colony of Gannets in Britain. It also has 10% of the country’s Kittiwake population along with many other seabirds such as Red Knot, Razorbill, and Meadow Pipit.

Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park

The Filey bird garden and animal park is an award winning five acre attraction in the town. It’s open from April to September each year.

Filey Museum

If you’re looking for history, Filey Museum is the place to go. You’ll find a good supply of history, photographs, and artefacts tracing its growth from a small fishing village to a larger holiday resort.

Glen Gardens

Every summer, the town holds its annual festival in Glen Gardens. It attracts local dance groups, stalls, and charities.

The Evron Centre

The most prominent entertainment venue in Filey is The Evron Centre. This also doubles as the town’s tourist information office. It hosts a mixture of theatre and musical events, craft fairs, and conferences.

Transport in Filey

Filey is easily linked to its surrounding towns. South of Filey you’ll find Bridlington and to the North you’ll find Scarborough via the A165.

Its railway station was built in 1846 as part of George Hudson’s railway network along the Yorkshire Coastline. The town also had a 2nd station at the Butlins holiday camp which opened in 1947. Thirty years later, it delivered its last passengers and has since remained disused.

Pop Culture in Filey

This seaside town has been featured in a series of television programmes, films, and novels. It was used as the filming

A bandstand in the Filey Crescent gardens. Picture credit: John Casey (IFY community)

set for the three-part TV comedy series “Sugartown” (2011) and the Butlins 1947 movie “Holiday Camp”. Filey was also used as inspiration for the fictitious seaside town of Oughton in The God Child by Paul Sayer.

Competitive Fishing in Filey

One of the main sports in the town is competitive fishing at Filey Brigg. It’s known amongst anglers for being one of the best places in the country for this sport.

In 1922, the Filey Brigg Angling Society was founded and is one of the oldest organisations of its kind. Each year, the group holds a fishing festival in the first week of September with 70 trophies being presented to competitors. It also holds seasonal leagues and one open day competition.

Filey is a beautiful coastal town that is a popular place to visit. It provides a brilliant getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Yorkshire Coast’s larger seaside towns.

History of Filey

In 1857, it was discovered that the seaside town of Filey dates all the way back to the 4th Century. The remains of a Roman signal station were found at Carr Naze, which is located at the base of Filey Brigg.

St Oswald’s Church

St Oswald’s Church dates as far back to 1150. It is believed however that some features of the church were built earlier

than this. Currently, it’s a Grade I listed building.

Originally, the church was located in the North Riding of Yorkshire whilst Filey was in the East Riding. This was due to the church being built on the northern edge of the town and along the North Riding and East Riding border.

The Norman Tower on the church was later built. It was used as a point for sailors to look for when travelling to Filey by boat.

Unlikely Scene for Battle

Until the 18th Century, the town remained a small fishing and farming village. At this point, Filey only had a few hundred living around present day Queen Street.

In 1779, the peace and quiet was temporarily disturbed. Filey Bay became the unlikely scene for a battle during the American War of Independence.

A US ship called the USS Bonhomme Richard was sunk. Despite several attempts to find the wreckage, nothing was ever found.

Victorian Era

Filey became extremely popular and boomed during the Victorian era. Due to the railway being built and more people starting to visit, the town was able to grow and develop.

The working class went to nearby Bridlington and Scarborough for their holidays. On the other hand, the middle and upper classes would visit Filey instead for a quieter, more gentrified experience.

Dogger Bank Earthquake

On the 7th of June 1931, the spire of St Oswalds Church was twisted by the Dogger Bank earthquake. It was registered as 6.1 on the Richter scale. Luckily, its epicentre was 60 miles away out to sea and not on the British mainland.

As a result, many rooftops crumbled in Yorkshire and Filey Brigg suffered as part of the cliff crumbled away. It was reported that a woman in Hull unfortunately died from a heart attack that was caused by the Dogger Bank earthquake.


In 1939, construction for the 3rd Butlins Holiday Camp had started. Everything was going well until the outbreak of WWII causing the building of Butlins to come to a halt.

The holiday camp was finally opened in 1945. With a capacity for 10,000 holiday makers, this site was extremely popular. However, this was to be fairly short lived.

Almost 40 years later, in 1983, Butlins shut its doors. Since then, the site has been re-developed into the Primrose Valley Holiday Parks. “The Bay” development also started selling its properties in 2007.

Filey Trivia

Filey is part of the Borough of Scarborough and is located between Scarborough and Bridlington.

It has a population of almost 7,000.

The oldest building in Filey is the 12th century parish church of St Oswald. In 1931 the spire of the church was damaged by the Dogger Bank Earthquake.

Up to the 18th Century, Filey was a small fishing village. Filey grew as visitors from Scarborough came to the town seeking the peace and quiet.

In 1835, John Wilkes Unett bought a tract of land and built The Crescent. This was later to be known as the Royal Crescent and was opened in the 1850’s.

Frederick Delius lived in the Crescent when he was a boy in Miss Hurd’s boarding house at number 24. Delius was later to become a very famous composer.

Filey was famous for the Butlin’s Holiday Camp which operated for over forty years. It was a very popular holiday resort and even had its own railway station. At its peak, over 10,000 people could be accommodated. It closed in 1984.

At the north end of Filey Bay is Filey Brigg, a headland which has many rock pools. During the summer, hundreds of people go there and fish in the pools.

There are a number of great walks and sights to be seen on and from The Brigg. It is possible to walk along the shore but care is needed due to the tides.