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Staithes low water river.JPG
A Coble in the river at Staithes at low water
Staithes is located in North Yorkshire
Location within North Yorkshire
OS grid referenceNZ779185
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtTS13
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
54°33′23″N 0°47′44″W / 54.5564°N 0.79561°W / 54.5564; -0.79561Coordinates: 54°33′23″N 0°47′44″W / 54.5564°N 0.79561°W / 54.5564; -0.79561

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.[1] 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'.[2] It has been suggested that it is so named after being the port for the nearby Seaton Hall and Hinderwell.[3] The spelling Steeas is sometimes used to indicate the traditional local dialect pronunciation /stɪəz/.[4]

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.[5][6]


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.[7] 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.[8]


Staithes has a sheltered harbour, bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters.[9] 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.[10] The ruined remnants of the mines can be seen from the cliff top when walking the Cleveland Way between Staithes and Skinningrove.[11]


Staithes is a destination for geologists researching the Jurassic (Lias), 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.[12] 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.[13]


The parish church is St Peter, Staithes. The Roman Catholic church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea was built in 1885.


Between 1883 and 1958, the village was served by Staithes railway station which was on the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway.[14] The southern end of the village is bisected by the A174 road between Thornaby-on-Tees and Whitby.[15]

Culture and events[edit]

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,[16] however, the Staithes Fishermen's Choir is still going strong. There is active local participation in the local RNLI Lifeboat station and crew.[17] Locally, the name was traditionally pronounced "Steers".[6]

To celebrate its place in art history, Staithes held a festival of arts and heritage in 2012.[12] 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.[18]

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.[19]

Staithes in popular culture[edit]

The CBeebies series Old Jack's Boat, starring Bernard Cribbins, is set in and filmed in Staithes,[20] with Old Jack's house located at 4 Cowbar Bank in the town.[21]

The 2017 film Phantom Thread starring Daniel Day-Lewis features the cobbled streets of Staithes.[22]


Staithes Athletic Club Cricket Club ground is situated off Seaton Crescent, Staithes.[23] The club have two senior teams: a Saturday 1st XI that compete in the Scarborough Beckett Cricket League,[24] a Midweek Senior XI in the Esk Valley Evening League[25] and a junior section that compete in the Derwent Valley Junior Cricket League.[26]

Notable people[edit]

In 1745–46, Staithes' most famous resident, James Cook (born in Marton-in-Cleveland, Middlesbrough), worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his passion for the sea.[27] He moved to nearby Whitby where he joined the Royal Navy. William Sanderson's shop, where Cook worked, was destroyed by the sea,[15] but parts were recovered and incorporated into "Captain Cook's Cottage".[28] This has been the residency of a local Staithes family for several generations.


The village was home to a group of twenty to thirty artists known as the "Staithes group" or the "Northern Impressionists". The group contained renowned artists such as Edward E. Anderson, Joseph R. Bagshawe, Thomas Barrett and James W. Booth and was inspired by other impressionists such as Monet, Cézanne and Renoir.[29] Dame Laura Knight became the most famous member of the Staithes Group; she and her husband and fellow painter Harold Knight kept a studio in the village.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OL27" (Map). North York Moors. 1:25,000. Explorer. Ordnance Survey. 2016. ISBN 9780319242667.
  2. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1960). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names (4th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 436. ISBN 0-19-869103-3.
  3. ^ "Staithes conservation area appraisal" (PDF). North York Moors National Park Authority. January 2001. p. 3. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  4. ^ Kellett, Arnold (1994), The Yorkshire Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition and Folklore, Smith Settle, p. 175, ISBN 1-85825-016-1
  5. ^ " / Staithes". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b "From Captain Cook to CBeebies at the seaside". Yorkshire Evening Post. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  7. ^ A Travel guide to the seaside town of Staithes, Yorkshire Travel Earth, 23 May 2010, at; retrieved 2 Juy 2021
  8. ^ Burnham, Nigel (24 March 1997). "Number's up for Captain Cook's village". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Better moorings for Staithes harbour". Whitby Gazette. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Boulby Alum Quarries and works (1018336)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  11. ^ Dillon, Paddy (2010). The Cleveland Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way with the Tabular Hills walk. Cumbria: Cicerone Press. pp. 144–147. ISBN 978-1849654128.
  12. ^ a b "Picture Post: Wave of visitors for Staithes, courtesy of children's TV show". The Yorkshire Post. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  13. ^ Appleby, John (11 August 2014). "Hanging by a thread: Whitby's jet and fossil hunters". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Disused Stations: Staithes Station". Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  15. ^ a b England (6 ed.). London: Rough Guides. 2004. p. 1031. ISBN 1-84353-249-2.
  16. ^ Jeffels, David (30 June 2010). "Keeping the fishing bonnets tradition alive in Staithes". Gazette & Herald. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  17. ^ Robson, Dave (9 August 2018). "Staithes Lifeboat Weekend to go ahead despite rock fall tragedy". Gazette Live. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Staithes Festival". Staithes Festival of Art and Heritage. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Staithes - The North Yorkshire Gallery". The North Yorkshire Gallery. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Staithes showcased in children's TV programme Old Jack's Boat". Whitby Gazette. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Staithes". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  22. ^ "TV and Film Locations". North York Moors National Park. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Staithes Athletic Club CC website". Staithes Athletic Club Cricket Club. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  24. ^ "Scarborough Beckett Cricket League". SBCL. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  25. ^ "Esk Valley Evening League". EVEL. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Derwent Valley Junior Cricket League". DVJCL. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  27. ^ Beaglehole, J. C. (1992). "1: The North Sea". The life of Captain James Cook (9 ed.). California.: Stanford Univ. Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-8047-2009-6.
    - "Captain James Cook's early life at Staithes". Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  28. ^ "James Cook in the North East - Staithes and Whitby". Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  29. ^ "Eminent Staithes Group artwork hidden away for a century". Whitby Gazette. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
    - "Hidden talents". The Northern Echo. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  30. ^ "Forgotten work by Staithes Group artist goes under the hammer". Yorkshire Post. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2017.

External links[edit]