Picture Credit: Kevin Gray (IFY Community)

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 are its more illustrious neighbours, Scarborough and Bridlington. Over the years, Filey has become a popular town in its own right and people travel here to seek a quieter seaside experience. People also know the seaside town for its tourism and fishing.

Page Contents:

Butlin’s in Filey

For over 40 years, Filey was best known for being home to one of the ten British Butlin’s holiday camps that had its own railway station. However, because of a decline in visitors, the site 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 walking routes often end at Filey Brigg, which is a peninsular one mile north of the town and is now a site of special scientific interest. The cliffs at Filey Brigg are 20m high and are made of limestone and sandstone rocks.

Filey Brigg

Filey Brigg by Brian Harvey Dickinson (IFY Community)

The sea has heavily eroded Filey Brigg over the years. In the past, this erosion has created major landslides, with the last being recorded in 1869. Since then, the area has continued to erode slowly.

The rock that fell off the end of the Brigg pushed the clay below sea level. Saltwater then eroded it to form Filey Bay and the large sandy beach, which is visited and enjoyed by many today.

Filey Brigg Country Park

In the early 1970s, the local council developed Filey Brigg Country Park. They designed it with Filey’s spectacular cliff-top walks in mind along with a campsite and a miniature golf course.

Carr Naze

People know the landward end of the Brigg as Carr Naze. This area is a popular place for birdwatchers who travel all over Yorkshire to see specific species, such as Oystercatchers, Purple Sandpipers, and Atlantic Puffins.

Bempton Cliffs RSPB Nature Reserve

The beginning of Bempton Cliffs RSPB Nature Reserve lies at the southern end of the bay. It’s home to the largest colony of Gannets in Britain and 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 attraction in the town, which is around five acres in size. This attraction is open from April to September each year.

Filey Museum

This Yorkshire coastal town is home to its own museums. Filey Museum looks back to the history of the town and contains photographs and artefacts visitors can enjoy. The history dates back to when it first became a small fishing village to the larger holiday resort, which it is today.

Glen and Crescent Gardens

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

During the 1830s, the owners of Ravine Hall built Glen and Crescent Gardens. Although the private estate no longer exists, the gardens are open to the public who prefer walking in nature rather than the town. The grounds have a cafe, play area and a formal garden. There is even an open space for people to play ball games and have picnics.

Every year, Filey holds its annual festival in Glen Gardens. It attracts local dance groups, stalls, and charities, making a great day out for the family.

The Evron Centre

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

Transport in Filey

Filey is well linked to its surrounding towns. Bridlington is located south of Filey, and to the north is Scarborough, which can be accessed via the A165.

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

Pop Culture in Filey

A series of television programmes, films, and novels have featured this seaside town. Filey was used as the filming set for the three-part TV comedy series “Sugartown” (2011) and the Butlin’s 1947 movie “Holiday Camp”. Paul Sayer also used Filey as inspiration for the fictitious seaside town of Oughton in his book, The God Child.

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, residents founded the Filey Brigg Angling Society, which 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, people 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, located at the base of Filey Brigg.

St Oswald’s Church

St Oswald’s Church dates as far back as 1150, but it’s believed that some features of the church were built earlier than this. Despite this grade I listed building being in Filey, which was in the East Riding of Yorkshire, St Oswald’s is in the North Riding because it was built on the northern edge of the town along the North and East Riding border.

The Norman Tower was added to the church at a later date. Sailors used this tower as a point 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. During this time, only a few hundred people lived around the present day Queen Street in Filey.

In 1779, the peace and quiet of the fishing town was temporarily disturbed when Filey Bay became the unlikely scene for a battle during the American War of Independence. A US ship called the USS Bonhomme Richard sunk and, despite several attempts to find the wreckage, no one found any remnants of its remains.

Victorian Era

Filey became an extremely popular tourist town and boomed during the Victorian era because of the railway station being built. More people were visiting the coastal town, which enabled it to grow and develop.

Scarborough and Bridlington were the chosen places for the working class to travel to for their holidays. Both the middle class and upper class would instead visit Filey for a quieter, more gentrified experience.

Dogger Bank Earthquake

On the 7th of June 1931, the Dogger Bank earthquake twisted the spire of St Oswald’s Church. The earthquake was registered as 6.1 on the Richter scale. Luckily, the epicentre of the earthquake was 60 miles out to sea and not on the British mainland.

As a result of the Dogger Bank earthquake, many rooftops in Yorkshire crumbled, 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 earthquake.


In 1939, constructions for the 3rd Butlin’s Holiday Camp had started. Everything was going well and people were looking forward to holidaying in the camp until the outbreak of WWII, which brought the construction of Butlin’s to a halt.

Butlin’s Holiday Camp finally opened in 1945 and had a capacity for 10,000 holiday makers. This site proved extremely popular with visitors travelling from all over for their holiday’s, however, this success was to be short-lived.

Almost 40 years later, in 1983, Butlin’s shut its doors against holiday makers’ wishes. Since then, the site has been re-developed into the Primrose Valley Holiday Park. More recently, “The Bay” development also started selling 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 1850s.

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 several great walks and sights to be seen on and from The Brigg. It is possible to walk along the shore but care is needed because of the tides.