Picture Credit: Richard Harris (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 and surrounded by its more illustrious neighbours, Scarborough and Bridlington. However over the years it has become popular in its own right for visitors seeking a quieter seaside experience and is therefore known, in the present day for tourism and fishing.

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

Filey is the end point for five major walking routes, 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 and The Great Yorkshire bike ride from Wetherby. These walks often end at Filey Brigg, a peninsula, one mile north of the town and a site of special scientific interest. Its cliffs are 20m high and made of limestone and sandstone rocks. These are heavily eroded by the sea, creating major landslips, the last of which was recorded in 1869. The landward end of the Brigg is known as Carr Naze, which is popular with birdwatchers for viewing species, such as Oystercatchers and Purple Sandpipers during the winter months. In the early 1970s Filey Brigg Country Park was developed, with spectacular cliff-top walks, campsite and miniature golf course. The rock which fell off the end of the Brigg pushed the clay below sea level, which was then eroded by the saltwater to form Filey bay and consequently the large, sandy beach, enjoyed by holidaymakers today. At the southern edge of the bay lies the beginning of Bempton Cliffs RSPB nature reserve, which has the largest colony of Gannets in Britain. It also has 10% of the country’s Kittiwake population and a large amount of other seabirds, such as Puffins, Guillemots and Gulls.

Filey Brigg is a distinctive coastal landmark and the end point of many long distance walks. Picture credit: Brian Harvey Dickinson (IFY Community)
Filey Brigg is a distinctive coastal landmark and the end point of many long distance walks. Picture credit: Brian Harvey Dickinson (IFY Community)

The award-winning five-acre Filey bird garden and animal park is a new attraction in the town, open from April to September each year. The Filey Museum offers a good supply of history, photographs and artefacts, tracing its growth from a small fishing village to a larger holiday resort. The town holds an annual festival every summer in Glen Gardens, attracting local dance groups, stalls and charities.

Filey is linked to the larger towns of Bridlington, in the south, and Scarborough, which lies to the north by the A165. Its railway station was built in 1846, as part of George Hudson’s railway network, and is on the Yorkshire coast line. The town also had a second station at the Butlins holiday camp, opened in 1947, but delivered its last passengers thirty years later and has since remained disused.

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

In popular culture, Filey has been used in the three-part TV comedy series, Sugartown (2011) and the 90s novel, The God Child by Paul Sayer, where the fictitious seaside town of Oughton is based on the real-life Filey. Butlins was used in the filming of the 1947 movie “Holiday Camp.”

Sport in the town revolves around competitive fishing at Filey Brigg, which is known amongst anglers for being one of the best places in the country for this sport. The Filey Brigg Angling society was founded in 1922 and is one of the oldest organisations of its kind. Each year it holds a fishing festival in the first week of September with seventy trophies being presented to competitors. It also holds seasonal leagues and one day open competitions.

Filey is a beautiful coastal town, which provides a brilliant getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Yorkshire coast’s larger resorts.

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

It was discovered in 1857 that Filey dates back to the 4th Century when the remains of a Roman signal station were found at Carr Naze, at the base of Filey Brigg. St Oswald’s church was built in the 12th Century on the site of another Anglo-Saxon place of worship. Until the 18th Century the town remained a small fishing and farming village, with a population of only a few hundred living around present day Queen Street. The peace and quiet was temporarily disturbed in 1779, when Filey bay became the unlikely scene for a battle during the American War of Independence. A US ship, the Bonhomie Richard was sunk, but despite several attempts the wreckage has never been found.

The coming of the railway and a boom in seaside tourism during the Victorian era saw the town grow and develop. While the working classes went to nearby Bridlington and Scarborough for their holidays, many of the middle and upper classes would visit Filey instead, for a quieter, more gentrified experience.

Damaged by an earthquake: St Oswald's Church. Picture credit: Phil Ward. (IFY Community)
Damaged by an earthquake: St Oswald’s Church. Picture credit: Phil Ward. (IFY Community)

On 7th June 1931, the spire of St Oswalds Church was twisted by the Dogger Bank earthquake, which registered 6.1 on the Richter scale. Its epicentre was 60 miles away out to sea and was felt throughout most of the UK, Belgium and France.

In 1939 construction of the third Butlins Holiday camp was started, but then halted due to the outbreak of WWII. It finally opened in 1945 with a capacity for 10,000 holidaymakers but shut its doors in 1983 and the site has been since re-developed into the Primrose Valley Holiday Parks, plus “The Bay” development, which started selling its properties in 2007.

Filey. A small town on the east coast of England is part of the Borough of Scarborough. It is located between Scarborough and Bridlington.

Filey has a large beach and is a very popular seaside destination. It has a population of almost 7,000 people.
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 of the town.

In 1835 John Wilkes Unett bought a tract of land and built The Crescent, which 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 10,00 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.