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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 18:13 GMT
Seaside shangri-la goes upmarket
The Fitties, made of timber, sprang up inthe 1930s
A cluster of chalets nestling on the banks of the Humber is soaring in property value, thanks to a flood of incomers from Yorkshire's industrial towns.

The Humberston Fitties were built East of Cleethorpes on the quiet stretch of land named after the Lincolnshire term for a salt marsh.

In the age of the railway, it was a home-from-home for miners and factory workers from South Yorkshire who began to put up simple huts and caravans on the dunes.

Now in a conservation area, the chalets' traditionally low prices are rising fast as more people choose them as second homes.

Newcomers have eascaped the stresses of city life
Estate agent John Hood said his firm, Jackson, Green and Preston's in Grimsby, was having no problem selling the properties.

"The prices have gone up to 40,000 - a few years ago it was more like 15, 000.

"Humberston is a lovely area to live in.

"A lot of people with cash for second homes are seeing it as a good alternative to the continent."

When electricity replaced the Fitties' wind generators, just two years ago, many predicted the flood of wealthy residents.

"From being shantyish, many have become nice homes with a lot of money spent on them," said Mr Hood.

These are just as important as some second home in the South of France because it's people stating their independence

Ian McMillan, poet
The Fitties' most famous resident is rock musician Robert Wyatt.

The former drummer with Soft Machine and his wife Alfie are part of a unique community where artists and redundant coal miners live side by side.

"It's not just a nostalgic thing, though it does remind you of how things might have been done in the past, coping with things without all the mod cons.

"It's also true that it might be a way forward.

"It's like something from a different era - the word freedom comes to mind."

The Fitties are a magnet for retired people
Trevor Ellis moved to the seaside hideaway from South Yorkshire.

"I feel a lot better now than I did when I worked down the mines. Life's a lot easier and I really like it here."

Resident Lilian Bryden is a retired social worker.

"Everyone seems to know everything that's going on - not in a malicious way - just interested in each other, and that to me is not something you'll find in suburbia."

Another great fan of the Fitties is the Barnsley poet, Ian McMillan.

"To me, these are just as important as some second home in the South of France because it's people stating their independence.

"They're saying, 'I might live in a terraced street somewhere, but I can make my own bungalow and make it as fantastic as I like'."

Viewers in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire can find out more about the Fitties in Close Up North on BBC 2, at 1930 on Thursday 13 December.

Click here to go to Humber

Click here for more from South Yorkshire
See also:

08 Nov 01 | Business
UK's summer property boom
08 Aug 01 | Business
Property prices continue to rise
10 Jul 01 | Business
Is now the right time to buy?
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