Filey guide town walk UK East Yorkshire


Town Walk

Brian Allensby ©
After extensive research with Gwendoline Hirst



FILEY meaning Five Leys or a clearing of forest or meadow otherwise known over the years as Fivelac, Philaw and Fiveley. The former description gives a feel of the place when the early settlers started fishing from the beach. The Romans where probably the first people to bring a settlement here when they built a signal station to warn of invasion from Saxon raiders. The discovery of a walled area 60ft (18.29m) x 25ft (7.62m) surrounding 5 large carrier stones could have been the base for the pillars to support a signal beacon. These stones now in Crescent Gardens giving the only clue as to what went on in this quite coastal area prior to the 12th century when church of St Oswald being built on what is now Church Hill overlooking the sea to the north of the town. The bay is formed of Cretaceous white sandstone cliffs and boulder clay that formed the Jurassic Coast area 154 to 159 million years ago and gave sanctuary to the dinosaurs and ammonites that roamed this area facing the North sea.

Start the walk

Filey Brigg Carr Naze BA Education

Filey Brigg looking towards Carr Naze

Filey Brigg or bridge is a long peninsula of land stretching out to sea with its seaward end known as Carr Naze that was occupied 3-4000 years ago by man using flint tools and because of its postion it later became the site of a Roman Signal tower. Carr Naze also marks the start of the Yorkshire Wolds Way, a Naitional Trail. The Trail is 79 miles in length, or 127 KM, from Carr Naze to where it leaves the Wolds on the Humber Estuary. The walk could take up to 6 days to complete in full, but most people just select a short distance and walk it in planed stages. Hessle Haven is the official historic start although most people start at the sculpture in the shadow of the Humber Bridge. Officially Filey and the area to Filey Brigg are outside of the Wolds.

Yorkshire Wolds Way BA Education

Yorkshire Wolds Way stone

The Spa on the north of Carr Naze, close to the edge of the cliff, has now fallen into the sea. However, the waters were taken to treat many diseases, and were probably found in the late 1900s having been very popular in the 1700 and 1800’s. The Filey Country Park, on Church Cliff Drive, was laid out on agricultural land on top of Filey Brigg in the 1970’s and covers 9 acres. A manor house near the church on farm land at church cliff was the home of the Buck family during the 1500 1600’s with only earth works remaining.

The sea and the fertile valley provided are the foundation for the evolution of this fishing village that supported both the men and women of the area. The men fishing from the bay and working the land with the help of women who became an essential part of the fisherman’s craft by making the nets, collecting the bait and cleaning it then baiting the lines for the men to use for the fishing. The bay was an important shipping lane between the Humber and the Tees and several ships were sunk in the area whilst providing the workplace for the industry of the area. The local fisherman even had a distinctive Gansey woolen sweater had their own knitting pattern so that if drowned at sea they could be recognized by their Filey pattern sweater.

A stone sea wall was built in 1893 along the foreshore promenade now called The Beach road to protect the land. Above the North and South Crescent Gardens were laid out in the 1890s and could only be used by owners and visitors of houses along the Crescent who paid a yearly subscription. In 1903 anyone who paid 3d (2½) per day, or 10s. (50p) per month were allowed to use them. A band played outside from 1860 to 1872 when a Bandstand was created on the present South Lounge stage area with a Summer House next to it which burned down in 1880. There was also open air dancing several evenings each week during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Sun Lounge was built 1961, retaining the original colonnade. After severe storm damage due to floods in 1953, when Foreshore Road was under water, and 1955 Royal Parade was opened. Below The Beach road provided access to the sea giving rise to buldings such as The Spa Saloon, originally built in 1800’s with a mansard roof, situated at 15 Beach road that later became Ackworth House Nursing and Retirement Home. The Coastguard Station is now at 27 The Beach road, but was originally in Queen Street.

Coatguard Station, Filey BA Education

Coastguard Station, Filey

There was a lifeboat in 1823 built by Robert Skelton of Scarborough stationed on the foreshore near Carrgate Hill. A lifeboat station was not built until the 1850s. Horses were used to pull the trailer carrying the boat into the sea and men rowed the boat. The Volunteer Life Saving Rocket Brigade used to fire rockets from the cliff or shore to carry a line to the ship in order to rescue the crews by breeches buoy. A powered inshore lifeboat was installed in 1966.

Life boat Station Filey BA Education

Life Boat Station, Filey

We start on The Crescent at The Cresent Gardens, both completed in the 1890’s. The gardens encompasses a walled area 60ft (18.28m) x 25ft (7.62m) with 5 large carrier stones, one decorated with a stag being hunted by a hound, and thought to be the base for the pillars that doubled as support for a beacon watchtower. The stones were discovered at Carr Naze on Filey Brigg in the 1857 and then excavated before being moved to their present site. These are the remains of a Roman Signal Station built in 395 AD and abandoned in 400 AD. Signal stations have always been integral to this part of the east coast to warn of invaders. The first known invaders were the Roman’s, followed by the Saxons and then the Vikings. The Brigg is a low-lying reef of calcareous grit, a mix of limestone and sandstone, that projects out into the north sea for half a mile, it had a bell buoy placed at its seaward end in 1871 to warn shipping as it becomes a hazard in rough weather.

Roman Signal Station pillar stones Filey BA Education

Roman Signal Station pillar stones, Filey

The oldest building in Filey is St Oswald’s church built 1100’s. It has a Stone figure built into Wallon South Aisle. The South Door is Norman. There is Priest’s door dating 1230 with a sundial nearby and a Maso Clock to show the times for mass before the Reformation. A stone alter was found on the chancel floor where it had been placed in the 1500’s during the reformation and may be from an earlier church. Two violinists and a cellist played for the services during the 1800’s.Fire destroyed the organ in 1908 and a new organ built by Bines of Leeds in 1908 at a cost of £900. Rev. Evan Williams, Curate from 1809 to 1833 lived at 33 Church Street, as there was no vicarage. He always went in and out through a window, and no women were allowed in the house. He would also sometimes start a service then say there was no sermon and go home. Canon Cooper was vicar from 1880 until 1935. He enjoyed walking and writing travel books, walking to London, Rome and many other cities on the continent.

St. Oswald's Church Filey BA Education

St. Oswald’s church, Filey

Church Cliff House, off Church Cliff Drive, on the north side St Oswald’s church, was built round about 1799 and was built on the site of a manor house owned by the high sheriff Sir John Buck from 1640 to 1641 and overlooked the sea. The house had six bays on the east and 5 bays on the south side and originally a square stone dovecot in the garden.

The first Wesley chapel, was built in Mitford Street in 1811 where the Elderly Person’s club is and was closed in the 1940’s. A new, larger chapel was built in Union Street in 1871 seating 900 people. A fire destroyed the organ in 1901 and the new organ was considered one of the best in the area. A Primitive Methodist or Ranter's Chapel was built at 3 Mitford street in 1823 and stands next to the fire station. The Salvation Army hall built was built on the site of the Albert hall in 1947 stand opposite.

Northcliffe on the end of Mitford Street has a stable block and coach house. Built in 1892 to designs by W H Brierley of York, there was a tunnel from the house to the out buildings. The Conference Hall next to the coach house was used as a Drill Hall and now scouts. An area called Clarke Asphalt was next to this where fishermen dried their nets.

Queen Street was thought to be the centre of medieval Filey and a market cross may have stood at the junction of Station Road, Mitford Street and Scarborough Road. A Saxon alter was found prior to the second wold war on the site of the parish church of St Oswald which was built about 1180 with the earliest recorded gravestone dated 1742.

Touring companies from London performed at The Grand Theatre and Cinema which had a cafe and lecture room situated at 8-10 Union street which opened in February 1911, closing in 1995 to become a vegetables preparation area, the other picture house was the Brig Cinema in Station road built in 1930 showed films until 1950 when it eventually closed to become a shopping centre in the 1970s. Now trying to find a use for its size.

Two cottages built in 1696 at 8 and 10 Queen Street became the local museum in 1970 focusing on local history and traditions. The Post Office was located at 79 Queen street from 1840 until 1850s when it moved to 11 Murray street.

The first Police station and Court house was designed by the County Surveyor Alfred Beaumont and built in 1892 by A. Moore of Scarborough at 5 Murray street were nearing completion in October 1892 with adjoining apartments for an Inspector and Sergeant and their families. Sergeant subsequently Inspector George Smith and Constable John James Long and their families were the first incumbents. The new Police station opened in an old building on John Street on the 26 March 2013.

Police station, Murray street Filey BA Education

First Police station, 5 Murray street, Filey

The first Fire engine had arrived in the town in 1891, and was located in Queen Street. The Fire station was incorporated into the Council chambers for the town. Having a tower a bell was fitted to warn of fire. A siren was fitted in 1938 that could be used as an air raid siren in the event of war. A Fire Station opened in 1935 on Mitford Street in 1935 and the present day fire and rescue services have a station there. The engine was located after the second world war at Butlin’s Holiday camp Primrose valley in 1946 and moved back to Murray Street in 1950.

The Filey Council chamber occupies 52a Queen street, the old fire station, which was built attached to the original council offices to its right hand side with a caretakers house at 52 Queen street. Then the council used these offices continually until 1967 with the exception of the war years when they were requisitioned by the Minity of Food. The council bought the premises of the Convent of the Sacred Heart to be convert into the Town Hall; located at the junction where Murray street where it meets with Cargate Hill and is entered from John Street.

Council chamber fire station Filey BA Education

Council Chamber with old Fire Station on the left, Queen Street, Filey

At the end of Queen street, where it joins Laundry Road, stood a steam engine that supplied power to the adjoining laundry. The laundry employed 100 people in the summer.

The Methodist movement arrived in the town in 1806 starting with meetings in barns and sheds and the Wesleyan Methodist society formed in 1810. A Methodist chapel was built in Providence Place in 1838 with a Sunday school the following year and the Day School in West Avenue built in 1857, followed by the building of the Victoria hall in Murray Street in 1839.

The Methodist Church Filey BA Education

The Methodist church, Union Street, Filey

The Methodist Church in Union Street was built in the Gothic style 1876 at a cost of £5,000 and known initially as the Wesleyan chapel, burnt down in 1918 and a new church built on the same site later becoming known as Trinity Methodist Church between 1930 -1975 then finally back to Methodist Church when the two congregations merged. In 1931 the Chapel spire was displaced by the effects of the Dogger bank earthquake. Further down the street was the Ebenezer Chapel built in 1918, but subsequently burnt down and not reopened until 1923. Known for their powerful preaching they brcame known as the Ranter’s and the chaple became known as the Ranter chaple.

Ranters chapel Filey BA Education

Ranter’s chapel, Filey

The Ebenezer Chapel closed through lack of support in 1975 when the two congregations merged and is at present used as flats. Methodism came to Filey in 1806 with meetings held in sheds and barns. A society was formed in 1810 with a chapel built in Providence Place thee following year. The Victoria Hall was built in 1839 and burnt down in 1918 and was replaced by shops in Murray Street. A first aid post was built against the wall of Trinity Methodist Church school room during the war years.

There was a bath house on the corner at the junction of Murray Street and West Avenue in the 1800’s where the chemist’s shop is opposite the Methodist church.

Where Murray street meets with Cargate Hill and entered from John Street, are two villas that become a convent occupied by the Sister Charity of our Lady of Evron who had arrived in the town in 1900 to establish the of Convent of Sacred Heart in 1904/5. The two recently recently built and enlarged villas had become South Cliff Villas which they subsequently opened as a Girl's High School in 1904 that remained open until 1967 when the sisters of evron left the town and the School closed to became the Evron centre and concert hall, named after the "Sisters of Evron" from Evron near LeMans in western France, which also houses the council offices and Visitor Centre.

Convent school Filey BA Education

Convent school, Filey

The building was built in 1898 and was used as Council offices up until 1974 when Urban District Councils were abolished and Filey's assets handed over to the Scarborough District Council who governed Filey. Filey Urban Council became Filey Town Council with reduced powers paying rent for the council chamber and offices. The council then bought The Convent of the Sacred Heart on Cargate Hill, entered from John Street in 1967 and to use them as the Town Hall and council premises. The Council offices were vacated in the 1967 when the council bought The Convent of the Sacred Heart which was run by the Sisters of Evron was still used by them 1974 and used bye them as the Town council premises up until 1992 when it bought back and renovated its original offices in 1993. In 1992 the council bought back its original Council chamber, offices and fire station in Queen street and after renovation opened them again on the 25th of May 1993.

Filey was considered quite an upmarket holiday destination from 1870s to World War 1. Wealthy visitors took lodgings for the summer from the South of England and the Continent with members of the Royal family also enjoying the social life and surroundings. Princess Mary, the Princess Royal, daughter of George V stayed in the 1930’s with her sons who went on early morning fishing trips. She also opened the Royal Parade in 1955.

Orchestral concerts were held at the bandstand in the Crescent gardens and pierrot’s performed on the beach in the late 1800’s and continued until the 1940’s. With Aerial flights and flying feats being performed on the beach at Primrose Valley what more could the visitor want.

Yorkshire Light Aeroplane Society, formed in 1909 asked permission to use Filey Sands for landing and take off their aeroplanes. The sands were also the testing ground for aircraft from the Blackburn Aircraft Company based at Flat Cliffs, Primrose Valley. An aeroplane with engine designed by Rupert Issaeson flew into a woman on the beach, lifting her onto the wing and into the cliff. She sued and was awarded £175 damages. However, in 1912 Robert Blabckburn, founder of the company, wrote to the council for financial assistance, which they could not give, and the company moved. In 1905 the Yorkshire Automobile club also used the beach for a speed trial over 2 miles on the beach using the Royal Crescent Hotel as a venue for a dinner. The Light speed and achieved was 72 mph. The first pilot and passenger to lose their life in a aeroplane in England was on Filey sands at Mr Blackburn’s flying school in 1910/11.

New building began in the town in the 1830s, and with the arrival of the railway in 1846 more people started to visit the town prompting a need for accommodation. A National School was built in Scarborough Road in 1874, replacing a church school built in 1839 that closed in 1988. A Secondary School was built on Muston Road in 1961.

Cliff House 40 Belle Vue Street was one of the earliest buildings in 1842 and had sea views. Charlotte Bronte stayed at Cliff House in 1849, and rumor has it did not like the room in 1852 and so did not return, it is said that the singer Jenny Lind, ‘Swedish Nightingale’, also stayed in the same house. Cliff House is soon to be called Charlott's, that boasts a 200 year old vine in the conservatory. The Belle Vue Hotel, built in 1860’s, stood opposite.

Filey Cliff House BA Education

Cliff House, 40 Belle Vue Street, Filey
The Bronte era

Amongst others to visit the town were Frederic Delius, the composer, born in Bradford, who came as a boy with his family and stayed at number 24 The Royal Crescent, Miss Hurd’s boarding house in 1876, 1877 and again in 1897 when it was run by Mrs Collet, now part of the Hylands Retirement Home. Dame Myra Hess, the pianist, and Dame Madge Kendal, the actress, had a house called South Crescent Villa, built 1850, that subsequently became the White Lodge Hotel. Pre 1914 it became popular with dignitaries of the Church, members of the Government, MPs, Peers of the realm and the Mountbatten family who came to stay with their families. The Lodge was known as Kendel House in 1918. In 1896 after a visit to Filey, The Lodge on The Crescent was bought by the actor manager Mr William Hunter Kendal Grimston, otherwise known as Mr William Hunter Kendal (1843-1917), of 12, Portland Place, London, and his wife the well-known actress Dame Madge (Margaret Shafto) Robertson GBE 1848-1935.

Filey Whie Lodge BA Education

The Lodge, The Crescent, Filey

Houses along The Crescent were built from the 1840’s when no’s 8 - 14 were completed through to the 1890’s when number 38 was built. The Crescent Hotel was built in 1853 and the houses had cast iron balconies. The houses were bisect as single homes, but later being joined to become hotels.

Filey Osbourn House BA Education

Osbourn House, Filey

The two World wars brought changes and innovations to the town. During World War 1 many hotels and boarding houses were used to house troops with Osborn House, on The Crescent used as a convalescent home for soldiers. The car park in the Station Avenue was built in the 1930s was used as a parade ground during the second world War. The World War 2 brought evacuees from Hull and Hartlepool to be billeted in the area, with the families receiving 8 shillings (40p) per week for each child. Occasionally mines would break loose from their moorings in the shipping lanes and explode on the beach or against the cliff with a cafe on the Brigg was destroyed in this way. A Vickers Wellington aircraft crashed in a field where Filey School in 1940, and several aircraft crashed in the area, and in 1941 the laundry in laundry Road was destroyed by bombs. A block house was built in Glen Gardens and now provides a viewing platform after being covered in earth.

History had played a part in the the towns war stories with Henry the eighth (1491-1547), in building up local defense groups, decreed that all men under 60 should practice archery after church on Sunday. The Filey butts were between Church Hill and Ravine Hill. A beacon 1/2 mile west of Filey School on Beacon Hill was lit as an early warning against invasion by the Spanish Armada ships in 1558. Then a battle in 1779 between the American fleet of John Paul Jones and the British fleet commanded by Captain Richard Pearson, who was escorting merchant ships along the coast, was watched by hundreds of people on the cliffs. Filey was quite isolated until the middle of the 1700s as the main road did not pass through it. The roads were only built in the early 1800s after enclosure of the common lands, which had previously used the 3 field system, leaving one fallow every 3 years.

To accommodate the increased congregations, a Zion Church was built on West Avenue in 1857, with a replacement was built in 1871 on a site with stone provided by the Hunmanby Lord of the Manor Admiral Mitford, who died in 1870 before the St. John’s Church of the Evangelist was finished, designed by the unexciting, but dependable architect C. Hodgson Fowler in 1200s style opened in 1873. In 1970 this was altered due to falling attendances and made small, with a church hall.

St. John's Church Filey BA Education

St. John’s church, Filey

An iron church, probably constructed of ironstone, had been built further south on the eastern side of West Avenue in 1857, before being replaced in 1871 when St John’s church was built as a chapel of ease to accommodate the growing number of worshippers.

In West Avenue on the corner of Clarence Avenue stands 1 Clarence House built as a girls boarding school in the 1800’s and from 1871 it was headed by Elizabeth Ware then run by sisters Lucy Martha and Margret McMallum between 1881 and 1891. In the 1930’s it became a hotel then during the second wold war it became accommodation for French Officer Cadets who were trained there. Then on the 1st February 1946 it became a CHA (Countrywide Holiday Association) Youth Hostel and drained of resources it closed on 15th September 1958 and has now become flats.

1 west avenue Filey BA Education

Clarence House, 1 Clarence avenue, Filey

The Town’s Library was built at Southdene in West Avenue in 1933, and was converted into house when the library moved to its purpose built new home in Station Road on the 11 April 1995.

Southdene road is home to the Filey Sea Cadets, with its impressive British built deck gun outside, To it seaward side once stood the Southdene Pavilion that had hosted variety shows and a Repertory Company, but now is the site of the tennis courts and croquet lawns.

Glen Gardens Cafe stands on the site of Ravine Hall, demolished in 1970’s. This was originally Ravine Villa, built by Henry Bentley of Bentley’s Yorkshire Beers in 1837. In 1889 Edwin Martin, a Huddersfield mill owner, bought the villa, and the road became Martin’s Ravine. The lodge is in West Avenue with the drive leading to the house.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at 23 Booklands, Filey was built by Sawdon Bros. in 1908 to designed by Father E. Roulin, who was the first priest. The premises were enlarged in 1961.

St. Mary's Church Filey BA Education

St. Mary’s church, Filey

To leave the town turn left from West Avenue into Station avenue then right at the island into Station Road continue to the island on to the Scarborough Road to Bridlington

If you enjoyed that try another Yorkshire Wolds Guide

Filey Town Guide complete.

Try a Yorkshire Wolds Guide

To return to an index click its button below or the hat at the top of the page.

Main Index Gardening year month season flowers vegetables trees shrubs This Index