In the mid 1700's Saltburn had a well known reputation for smuggling. Taxes were high on imported items and due to the war with the French, the most required items were scarce. The most highly taxed items were Brandy, Gin, tobacco, black tea and green tea. The local fishermen made excellent smugglers and knew the best places to hide their contraband. John Andrew was probably the most famous smuggler in the Saltburn area. He was a Scotsman, born approx. 1761, who in 1780 became the landlord of the Ship Inn, and he organized the local smuggling community. His activities led to his arrest in Hornsea in 1827. Found guilty, he was jailed for two years in York Castle.
This little seaside town originated in medieval times as a place where salt was panned by the burn, or beck which flows into the North Sea, for trading inland. By the early 19th century it was a small fishing hamlet sheltered by the huge bulk of Huntcliff. Old Saltburn still clusters around the Ship Inn, once favoured by smugglers.
Victorian Saltburn came with the arrival of the railways around 1861, when the Quaker ironmaster Henry Pease of Darlington provided the impetus for the development of the town for leisure and seaside relaxation. A simple pier was added, hotels and boarding houses built above the steep sided valley where there are now semi formal attractive gardens.
A late Victorian atmosphere still prevails, and no brash amusement arcades disturb the seafront peace, where the fine sands are cleansed by every tide. The Cleveland way passes through before climbing Huntcliff, where the Romans had a signal station. The railway still carries passengers her as it has done since 1861.
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