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North Riding
Redcar 20050324.jpg
Redcar Sea Front
Grid reference: NZ601252
Location: 54°37’7"N, 1°4’7"W
Population: 36,610  (2001)
Post town: Redcar
Postcode: TS,
Dialling code: 01642
Local Government
Council: Redcar and Cleveland

Redcar is a seaside resort town in the North Riding of Yorkshire. It stands on the North Sea coast, just beyond the Tees Estuary, 7½ miles east-northeast of Middlesbrough, and the view from the beach as often as not affords a look at some of the impressive industrial freight ships making their way up to Teesport.

The population of Redcar at the 2001 census can be counted at 36,610.

Redcar originated as a fishing town in the early 14th century, trading with the larger adjacent market town of Coatham. Until the mid 19th century it was a sub-parish of the village of Marske-by-the-Sea, when Redcar emerged as a seaside tourist destination. With the opening of the Middlesbrough to Redcar Railway in 1846, Redcar became a resort for Victorian tourists.

Name of the town

Redcar may mean "Red Rock", from the Old English read carr, though another suggestion has the latter element from the Old Norse kjarr, meaing marshland, and yet another suggests that "Red-" is from the Old English hreod ("reed").


Redcar originated as a fishing town in the 14th century, trading with the larger adjacent market town of Coatham. Until the mid 19th century it was a part of the local parish of Marske-by-the-Sea, which is listed in the Domesday Book.

In 1846 work was complete on the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway, created to attract local tourism and trade, but like much of the Middlesbrough region, Redcar's real population expansion began with the discovery in 1850 of iron ore in the Eston area of the Cleveland Hills. With the construction of Redcar Racecourse in 1875, Redcar prospered as a seaside town drawing tourists to its eight miles of sands that lead on to Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Redcar and Coatham piers

Plans for Redcar Pier were drawn up in 1866, but work was not started until 1871 by which time building a pier at Coatham had been suggested. Misfortune struck both piers very early in their lives. Coatham Pier was wrecked before it could be completed when two sailing ships were driven through it in a storm. It had to be shortened because of the cost of repairs and was re-opened with an entrance with two kiosks and a roller-skating rink on the Redcar side, and a bandstand halfway down the pier. In October 1898 the barque Birger almost completely wrecked the pier and the pier was allowed to disintegrate. A glass house for concerts was added to the remains of the pier. In 1928 this was replaced by the New Pavilion theatre which became the Regent cinema in the early 1960s. An anchor from the Birger can be seen on the sea front pavement opposite the Zetland lifeboat museum.

Disaster struck Redcar Pier in the 1880s and 1890s when a series of ships broke through it. In October 1880 the brig Luna did £1,000 worth of damage and on New Year's Eve in 1885, SS Cochrane demolished the landing stage. In 1897 the schooner Amarant went through the pier and in the following year the pier head burnt down. In 1907 a pavilion ballroom was built on the pier behind the entrance kiosks and in 1928 the pavilion was extended. The pavilion continued in use after the Second World War despite the deliberate breaching (sectioning) of the pier to prevent its being used by enemy invasion forces and structural weakening caused by a nearby mine explosion. Damage to the pier by subsequent storms finally led to its demolition in 1981.

In 2010, plans for a new vertical pier, along with plans to fully redesign the sea front, were put forward to the people of Redcar & Cleveland Borough.[1] The plans were accepted and construction started in 2011.[2]

A group, The Redcar Pier Association, formed in 2011, started a campaign for a traditional, horizontal pier.[3]

Zetland lifeboat

The Zetland, the world's oldest surviving lifeboat which was built by Henry Greathead of South Shields, is housed in a sea front museum at Redcar operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The lifeboat was first stationed at Redcar in 1802.[4]


Today Redcar is made up of numerous areas, including Coatham, Warrenby, Dormanstown, Lakes Estate, Redcar East, The Ings, Ings Farm, Mickledales and Westfield.


Redcar Steelworks at night

The town's main employers in the post-war era were the nearby Teesside Steelworks at Warrenby, founded by Dorman Long in 1917, and the ICI Wilton, Redcar and Cleveland|Wilton chemical works. The steel produced at Dorman Long was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Tyne Bridge, Auckland Harbour Bridge and many others.

Today no steel is made at Redcar, since the plant's closure in February 2010, though the Thai owners of the former Corus Plant at Lackenby, Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI), plan to re-ignite the blast furnace which is the largest in Europe, on December 8 2011.[5] [6] Both the Warrenby and Lackenby sites became part of Tata Steel when Corus was taken over in 2007, but continued to trade under the Corus name until at least February 2008. SSI bought the plant from Tata Steel in February 2011, for £320 million.

There is a small inshore fishing fleet in Redcar catching lobster, crab and fish, and offering fishing trips to tourists. As high tide at Redcar now comes up to the sea wall, fishing cobles are permitted to park up with their trailers on a broad section of sea front pavement.

Tourism, leisure and amenities

After the opening of the Middlesbrough to Redcar Railway in 1846[7] Redcar became a regular destination for Victorian tourists. Each year people from northern Yorkshire, Leeds and Scotland visited Redcar for their holidays.

From the 19th century to the present day Redcar has featured donkey rides - owned by the Burnistons established locally in antiques and jewellery, scrap metal, mechanics and wool - run today by the sixth generation Ronnie Burniston. In the 1970s there was also trampolining on the beach; the roundabouts and swings were run by showman Victor Vernon and his family who still have rides on the prom. Ice cream was sold on the promenade and a candy floss stall on the beach was also owned by the Burnistons. Pacitto's are still in Redcar on the sea front selling ice cream with red sauce and their signature cone, the lemon top (dairy ice cream in a cone, with a blob of lemon sorbet on top of it). The name "Pacittos" was derived from the name of an Italian family, who owned the shop in Redcar, and another member of the family owned the shop in Scarborough. There was another ice cream company with the family name "Todisco" that sold ice cream in the area that was also very popular.

Redcar Beach

The sand beach at Redcar stretches approximately eight miles from south east to northwest. In the north west the beach runs past Coatham to South Gare breakwater at the mouth of the river Tees. To the south east the sand beach is bordered by the Stray from Redcar's Zetland Park to Marske-by-the-Sea and then continues on to Saltburn. The Stray is a 2-mile long public open strip of coastal grassland between the beach and the A1085 road characterized by a series of howles (small chines) leading from the grassland to the beach. The Redcar coastline is a prime location for finding fossils of Gryphaea, also known as devil's toenails. The main pedestrianised shopping area is based on and around High Street and runs parallel to the sea front Esplanade.

The town has had several parks built for tourism. They are Coatham Enclosure, Locke Park, Zetland Park, Lily Park, and Amusement Park with its roller coaster. These parks are now operated by the local council. A further park, Titty-Bottle Park no longer exists as such and in its place on the triangular plot of land which it occupied is a red and blue, brick built toilet block and tourist information centre.

Amusement arcades have existed at Redcar since the building of the Redcar Pier in 1873, and today the arcades are still very much part of Redcar sea front life. The town is only about 5½ miles away from the North York Moors National Park at its closest point, near Guisborough, and offers fine views of The Monument at Eston Nab in the distance.

During filming of the adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel Atonement, Redcar experienced a sharp (approximate) 70% increase in the number of tourists who visited the town's promenade to see the film being shot. Atonement used Redcar seafront to replicate Dunkirk, smashed by the tide of war. (The grim column of smoke rising in the distance in that scene the film is not added by CGI to portary a distant burning town, but is the column of smoke from the works up the coast.)

Sights of the town

The Clock Tower

There are some twenty three listed buildings in Redcar.[8]

  • Clock tower at the west end of High Street: a memorial to King Edward VII who was a regular visitor to Redcar.
  • The Coatham Hotel, on the sea front: a grand Victorian edifice, now closed. The ballroom of the hotel was the home to the Redcar Jazz Club a popular venue for the up-and-coming bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • Zetland Lifeboat Museum on the sea front, operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and housing the Zetland Lifeboat, the world's oldest surviving lifeboat.
  • Sound mirror, in the east of Redcar: a grade II listed building built during the First World War as part of a regional defence system to detect approaching aircraft (Zeppelins mainly) and give early warning. Built in 1916 the mirror was used up until the invention of radar. Although it was originally built on open fields, a modern housing estate now surrounds it.

Redcar in film and television

  • Atonement (2007): In 2006, Redcar was used as a location for filming. The Coatham Hotel, Regent Cinema, a section of Newcomen Terrace and part of the beach were dressed as 1940s Dunkirk. Filming took place across three days in August 2006, with local men playing the soldiers.
  • The Secret Millionaire (television): in 2010 on this Channel 4 programme David Jamilly a humanitarian and philanthropist, self made millionaire, visited the Redcar community and gave £25,000 to Zoë's Place for a sensory room, £25,000 to Redcar Amateur Boxing club to start an Olympic fund and 25k to Sid's place for special counselling. The feature of the documentary involved the closure of the nearby Corus steelworks as well as the charities.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Redcar)