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Portfolio > On Location (UK) 2 > Staithes, North Yorkshire                                                        Click on an image below to reveal enlarged version

Staithes, North Yorkshire, UK

Staithes is a seaside village in the borough of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England. Easington and Roxby Becks, two brooks that run into Staithes Beck, form the border between the Borough of Scarborough and Redcar and Cleveland. The area located on the Redcar and Cleveland side is called Cowbar. Formerly one of the many fishing centres in England, Staithes is now largely a tourist destination within the North York Moors National Park

The name Staithes derives from Old English and means 'landing-place'. It has been suggested that it is so named after being the port for the nearby Seaton Hall and Hinderwell. The spelling Steeas is sometimes used to indicate the traditional local dialect pronunciation /stɪəz/.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were 80 full-time fishing boats putting out from Staithes. A hundred years later there are still a few part-time fisher men. There is a long tradition of using the coble (a traditional fishing vessel) in Staithes.


Staithes has numerous narrow streets and passageways; one of these, Dog Loup, with a width of just 18 inches (45.7 cm), is claimed to be the narrowest alley in the world. It was reported in 1997 that the Royal Mail were encouraging the occupants of Staithes to number their houses instead of relying on names. Whilst the regular postperson had no difficulty with the narrow streets and cottages, the relief postal staff were getting confused. Royal Mail also claimed it would aid efficiency by their postal machines which automatically read the addresses. Staithes has a sheltered harbour, bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters. A mile to the west is Boulby Cliff where, for a brief period, alum was extracted from quarried shale and used as a mordant to improve the strength and permanency of colour when dying cloth. The mining operation ended when a cheaper chemical method was developed. Staithes is a destination for geologists researching the Jurassic, strata in the cliffs surrounding the village. In the early 1990s, a rare fossil of a seagoing dinosaur was discovered after a rockfall between Staithes and Port Mulgrave to the south. This fossil has been the focus of an ongoing project to remove the ancient bones of the creature. Port Mulgrave remains one of the best places on the northern coast to find fossils of ammonites and many visitors spend hours cracking open the shaly rocks on the shoreline in the hope of finding a perfect specimen.

The permanent population of the village has dwindled due to more than half of the houses being second homes or holiday cottages owned by outsiders. Age old Staithes' traditions are beginning to disappear; up until recently, when some local women still bought Staithes bonnets from the sole bonnet maker, however, the Staithes Fishermen's Choir is still going strong. There is active local participation in the local RNLI Lifeboat station and crew. Locally, the name was traditionally pronounced "Steers".

To celebrate its place in art history, Staithes held a festival of arts and heritage in 2012. Many houses and other properties opened their doors to the public as pop-up galleries, creating a trail through the village. In addition, events celebrating the heritage of Staithes were held. Such was the success and interest in the festival, the villagers intend to make this an annual event.

There is a local pub crawl known as the "Roxby Run". This starts at the "Fox and Hounds" in the nearby village of Dalehouse then goes to Staithes Athletic Club, the "Captain Cook Inn", the "Black Lion" (now closed) the "Royal George" before finishing at the "Cod and Lobster" on the harbour.

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