Saturday, May 25, 2013

Another fine yarn...

Once again that mysterious group of knitters known as Saltburn Yarn Stormers have been working their magic and have produced another amazing display created out of wool and attached to the Victorian Pier in Saltburn by the Sea. Just in time for a sunny bank holiday weekend!


The following article, written by Julia Breen, was published in the Northern Echo this morning (Monday 26th May).

"It's Bank Holiday weekend in Saltburn and the sun is shining. There isn’t a breath of wind and the tide is out, leaving a wide, sandy expanse to be explored. The North-East coast doesn’t get any more perfect than this.

Families pitch little tents along the beach and toddlers clutching buckets and spades in their tiny fists waddle towards the water. Surfers pull on their wetsuits and stroll down to the sea, surfboards wedged under their arms. Other visitors enjoy a promenade along one of the coastal town’s best assets: the pier.

Take a closer look, and there are crowds of people stopping, touching, gazing at something colourful on the railings. The famous Saltburn Yarn Stormers, as they call themselves – that elusive group of knitters who distribute intricate woollen figures around the town in the dead of night - have struck yet again.

This knitting hasn’t been here long. The wool is still fluffy and unstained. It hasn’t even been rained on. Last year’s fantastic Olympic-themed scarf, which stretched along the pier, was half drowned by the summer’s awful weather. Locals think the latest offering appeared overnight between Friday and Saturday.

If you live out of the area and hadn’t heard of Saltburn a year ago, you have now. The notorious “guerrilla knitters” have made national headlines over, and over, with their topical scenes – the Olympics, the Jubilee, a naked Prince Harry.

This time the theme is more low-key, but the work no less astonishing. Beautiful seaside scenes adorn most of the length of the pier. There are donkeys, with “knit and purl” stitched on to their nosebands. An RNLI volunteer is performing a daring rescue. A mermaid, shells protecting her modesty, reclines on the railing, looking over the sea to the new windfarm off the Redcar coast. Little pink jellyfish with sequins sewn on top glint in the sunlight. An elderly man with patchy sunburn lies back on a wooden and wool deckchair, his feet resting on a little knitted blue and white coolbox. Could this be based on one of the yarnstormers, or their husband?

Three woollen beach huts are halfway down the pier, knitted flags on top spelling out “SYS” – which can only stand for Saltburn Yarn Stormers.

There are little clues, if you look for them. But do we really want to know who they are – or is the mystery part of the charm?

One visitor to the pier, who lives in Saltburn but did not want to be named, says the anonymity of the knitters is almost as important as the scenes themselves.

“I think a lot of people have a very good idea,” she says. “But no-one in Saltburn will ever give the game away.”

Elaine Corner, a knitter from Lincolnshire, was visiting family in the area and, during a stroll along the seafront, decided to come and see the yarnstorming for herself.

“A lot of it is simple knitting,” she says. “But it’s beautifully done and the way it is all stitched together must have taken a long time. I can only think there is more than one of them doing it. I think it is fabulous. It draws people to the pier because it is cheerful and colourful. We didn’t come to the seafront just to see the knitting but once we saw it on the pier we had to take a look.”

Lottie Allpress, originally from New Zealand but living in Oxford, said: “It is really nice. I’ve never seen anything like it before but we’re enjoying looking at all the scenes. It’s something a bit different to look at.”

While there’s no doubt that many visitors enjoy the woollen creations, it’s not enough in itself to bring visitors in, thinks Edna Vernon, who runs the beach shop and cafe at Cat Nab, Saltburn.

And she would know more than most. Seventy-eight year-old Mrs Vernon has run the cafe for generations and was born just metres away in a caravan at Cat Nab.

“What fetches people to Saltburn is the sunshine,” she says. “When it is raining, nobody comes.

“I do think the first time the knitting was up it did fetch a lot of people down. But I don’t think most of the time it brings anyone else in. They come to Saltburn because it is a beautiful place and the knitting is just a bonus.

“I can serve 5-6000 people here in a day and I wouldn’t say that’ll be any more than normal just because there is some new knitting on the pier. It has let people know about us though, and that can’t be bad.”

Does Mrs Vernon knit? “Do I knit? Yes I do,” she says. Does Mrs Vernon know who the mystery knitters are? “No, I don’t,” she says. There’s a twinkle in her eye. “That’s part of the thing, isn’t it, that no-one knows who it is,” she says. And that is the end of the subject. Most locals know, but no-one is telling."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cat Nab safety fears.

Cat Nab Hill is a favourite place for hundreds of families to visit each year, but fears have now emerged that the hill may be becoming unsafe.

Redcar and Cleveland Council and Saltburn Parish Council are now set to hold talks to discuss possible safety improvements.

John Clark is among those who have visited the site recently and raised concerns over its safety.

Mr Clark, of Willow Drive, Normanby said: “The summit of the hill is very eroded and worn, resulting in a very steep drop.

As children may be seen regularly playing there, it would seem advisable for the top third of the hill to be permanently fenced off for their protection, allowing the rest of the hill to be used as a viewing and picnic area. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Saltburn parish councillor Jim Wingham, 72, has lived in Saltburn for 42 years and knows the hill well.

He will now raise the issue at the parish council, with a view to asking Redcar and Cleveland Council to take remedial action.

This could include planting Siberian grasses to stabilise the hill top.

However, Cllr Wingham would oppose any move to permanently fence off the summit of the hill, which he says is a “local icon”, enjoyed by hundreds of people every year.

He said: “I have taken my children and grandchild up there, but Mr Clark’s photos show the erosion is very bad now.
It’s a local landmark and a great vantage point. There are some steps, but they were never completed. It’s a great natural viewing point.
Local folklore says it was named after wild cats which used to live there many years ago. There are also ancient burials on the south side which have been investigated by archaeologists.
It’s very popular and a lot of people go up there, but I would like to see it protected rather than isolated by fencing. Children need to climb hills and trees and learn about life.
But it’s going to be a problem if it gets worse.”

Helen McLuckie, Cabinet member for highways and planning said the authority would liaise with the parish council to identify what and where the problem is and continue to work with them in finding a solution once the problem areas have been identified.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Easterly

A "love story to the North-east coast" will be told in Saltburn next month (June).

And anyone interested in taking part in an 'acting and singing walk' from the town centre to the pier is invited to a weekend of workshops on Saturday and Sunday May 18-19.

"'The Easterly' will be a rich tapestry of stories and songs shared on a walk from Saltburn's community theatre in Albion Terrace to the pier," said co-director Phil Ormrod, of the Stockton-based performance company Switchback.

"It'll talk about living by the sea. It's a love song to the North-east coast and the people who live there."

'The Easterly.' A figure stands above the water, listening to the easterly wind. Around you, the choir sing shanties and songs to the loved and the dear and departed. How many people have stood on this pier, and longed to be past the horizon? How many homecomings happened just here, and who didn’t find what they wished for?

The Easterly is a vivid explosion of stories and songs, told on a walk from Saltburn Arts Centre to the edge of the sea. Made with storytellers and a community choir, it celebrates the spirit of the North East coast, and holds out a hand to anyone who’s ever wished for something as they looked at the sea.

Open workshops for young people aged 16-18 and anyone interested in singing will be held at the Saltburn School project in the former Marske Mill Lane old junior school on May 18th-19th

The walk will take place on Sunday June 30, starting at 6:30pm. If wet, umbrellas will be provided. The show is suitable for all ages, and the Theatre and walking route is wheelchair accessible.

The production is being produced with Saltburn Community and Arts Association and is part of the Festival of the North-east. Details from and
Tickets are available at

Saltburn Viaduct to get a facelift.

Network Rail has applied to Redcar and Cleveland Council for listed building consent to repair the 19th century Victorian viaduct off Marske Mill Lane, Saltburn.

Sections of brickwork on the 11-span, Grade II Listed structure are showing signs of wear and tear.

The application is for brickwork replacement to the viaduct, including the repair of open joints, spandrel wall fractures on two spans and on three of the pier legs. Permission is also being sought for additional repointing and brickwork replacement as identified during the work.

The imposing, 180ft-high viaduct - the same height as Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge - is used daily by heavy goods trains travelling across it on their way to and from Cleveland Potash at Boulby.

A report with the planning application states the viaduct was probably designed by Harrison, the company engineer who built a number of structures for the North Eastern Company.

The authorisation for the line was granted in 1865, and the line was opened on June 1, 1872.

The report states: “The viaduct is of historic significance to the area as it was built to serve the Skinningrove ironstone mines.

No archaeological significance has been assessed as part of this application as the works proposed shall not impact on this area.

The asset is of local significance as several similar examples of this type of viaduct exist on the railway network.

The proposed works are sympathetic to the asset and are designed to improve its viability and future maintenance.

If the proposed works are not considered the detrimental impact could be that the structure fails, leading to significant disruption.

The viaduct’s most recent detailed structural examination highlighted several areas with “open mortar joints, spalling brickwork and fracturing”.

Top chef to cook up a feast at Saltburn's first food festival.

One of Britain's leading gourmet chefs has been announced as the top attraction at Saltburn's first food festival.

Double Michelin-starred Kenny Atkinson, who left his position as director of food at Rockliffe Hall near Darlington last month will be cooking up locally sourced dishes in the cooking demonstration area at Saltburn Food Festival on Sunday, August 4.

Mr Atkinson, born and bred in Newcastle, shot to fame in 2009 when his beef salad starter was voted the best on BBC Two’s The Great British Menu. He is currently searching for a restaurant venture in the Newcastle area but has said he would also consider sites in key areas outside the city such as Yarm.

He has agreed to become patron of Saltburn Farmers’ Market, which he visited for the first time on Saturday.

He said: “I’m very excited to be involved with the food festival and the farmers’ market because I’ve got a real passion for supporting local producers. Farmers’ markets are essential in improving the accessibility of good food.”

The food festival, run by market organiser Lorna Jackson, will feature a bigger than usual Saltburn Farmers Market, live music, children’s cookery area, farm yard petting zoo, and cookery workshops.

A large section of Milton Street in the town centre will be closed for the event and several local businesses will be involved in the food craft workshops.

Ms Jackson said: “We’re all thrilled to be hosting a food festival for the first time.

“We’re so glad Kenny is involved because he is a big advocate of local produce and also a really exciting chef to watch working.”

For more information on the food festival check out the Saltburn Farmer’s Market facebook page and also on twitter @saltyfarmmarket.