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Rediscovering Saltburn's history
Old Saltburn, 1904.
Old Saltburn, 1904. Picture: Images North East

In a series of radio programmes, BBC Tees' Diane Youdale was joined by established history and heritage author Paul Menzies, as she tried to rediscover Teesside and County Durham.

Paul aimed to reignite a love for our area, and the outdoors in us all.

They visited sites of old photos and took a new snapshot, to compare the past with the present.

During their travels, they found themselves in Saltburn...

Paul Menzies talks about Saltburn

Saltburn is full of history, and lends itself easily to the popular trend of historical dramas.

Even standing on the sandy beach, close to old Ship Inn, looking on to the dark foreboding cliffs sheltering the bay, Diane and I almost expected to see a smuggler rowing ashore!

Smuggling was a 'popular earner' in the eighteenth century for many, including the financial backer as well as villagers with the goods hidden in an outbuilding.

Luxury goods 'tax free'

With punitive duties used to finance a series of wars, even the rich welcomed the chance to buy luxury goods 'tax-free'.

The North Yorkshire coast with its isolated bays and small fishing hamlets like Saltburn was the perfect location.

About Paul
Paul is the author of a series of books made up of old pictures from around the area
The series of books are called 'Images of England'
BBC Tees' Diane Youdale has been out and about with Paul, finding out the history of our area

Ships laden with tobacco, tea, brandy, geneva (gin), perfumes, lace and silk willingly unloaded their illegal goods to be stashed away by locals (for a fee) until it was safe to sell.

Certainly the smuggler's agent, who operated on land, had no difficulty in selling the stashed contraband.

Members of the gentry and even the clergy were regular receivers, unable to resist the lure of luxury goods at a fraction of the usual (legal) price.

'King of the Smugglers'

The landlord at the Ship Inn in the late 1700's, John Andrew, became Master of the Cleveland Hunt, a Lieutenant in the North Yorks militia, good friend of the gentry and the 'King of the Smugglers'!

Old Saltburn, 2009.
Paul and Diane in Saltburn, in 2009. Picture: Images North East

Almost impossible to apprehend, for years Andrew was the driving force behind smuggling at Saltburn.

On many nights contraband would be secreted to his home at nearby White House Farm. It's rumoured he kept a feisty mare in the stable with the trap-door accessing the hidden cellar.

The Preventatives (Customs Officers) once caught him running a cargo ashore at Blackhall.

Confiscated contraband

When he fled from custody at Hartlepool, they chased him across the sands to Teesmouth where he made a plucky escape across the river to Coatham using a rowing boat he had found.

'Around Cleveland'

The authorities struggled to contain the smugglers. Public hostility and a cultural mindset of approval didn't help either.

Preventatives were often attacked by villagers as they confiscated contraband.

At Marske in 1780, smugglers even used cannon fire to repossess their goods!

It was a battle they simply could not win. In the end it was lower duties on the goods that won the day for them.

A fiscal lesson for us all!

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