Victorian values revive fortunes of seaside resort: Oliver Gillie looks at how local volunteers helped boost a depressed Cleveland town

JACKIE TAYLOR has written to the German embassy asking for a contribution towards the cost of building a new bandstand at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland. In its Victorian heyday the town had five bandstands. One survived the town's decaying fortunes but it was destroyed by a German bomb in 1942.

Miss Taylor, a ceaseless campaigner for local causes, said: 'A new bandstand will cost pounds 26,000. I'm not asking the German embassy to pay for it all. I've written to a lot of other people as well.'

When the Saltburn youth hostel was closed last year, Miss Taylor sent a fax to the Queen and to Prince Charles. 'We asked for their support. It was so unnecessary to close the youth hostel. It wasn't losing money,' Miss Taylor said. 'I've faxed the Royals several times, but I always ring first to tell them it is coming. They are so nice about it.'

The force of Miss Taylor's discreet charm is felt from one end of this little town to the other. Together with other local activists she started the Saltburn 500 Club which raises money to pay for the Christmas lights, hanging flower baskets, period litter bins - and now a Victorian bandstand.

Saltburn has pulled itself up by its own efforts from a depressing slump during the 1970s. The town was built as a resort in the 1860s when the railway was extended to the coast. A pier and a cliff hoist were built and Italian gardens laid out. The town thrived as trains brought in the trippers.

In 1905 Saltburn reached the height of fashion when the world land-speed record was set in a race along the sands to Redcar. After that the town earned a steady living until the 1970s when people began to take cheap holidays in the sun.

Dennis Weller, tourism officer for the local Langbaurgh District Council, said: 'By the mid-Eighties there was nowhere you could get a cup of tea on a wet Wednesday in Saltburn. The major hotel was derelict. The town had gone downhill and there seemed to be no way of stopping it.'

But now Saltburn is being held up by the Association of District Councils as an example of how imaginative thinking can revive the fortunes of a seaside town. Worried by the decline of many resorts in England and Wales, the association has produced a report examining how they may learn from each other.

Saltburn has a population of only 6,500 and few resources but it has managed to regain its name as a resort with a relatively small expenditure. The town decided to return to its Victorian roots, removed the 1950s lamp-posts and street furniture and replaced them with Victorian designs.

The turning point came when the town launched a Victorian festival which attracted 40,000 visitors. The festival was helped by the 500 Club which raised the money to buy Victorian pattern books to help local women make their own dresses. 'We can turn out 20 or 30 people in Victorian dress any time now. We call them rent-a-crowd,' Mr Weller said.

The 500 Club has also paid for hanging baskets of flowers which have helped the town to win the Britain in Bloom award.

Reg Blacklock, 58, a retired teacher, has revived the miniature railway which became derelict in the 1980s. 'It took a year to get it going again - all done by volunteers,' Mr Blacklock said. 'Now the railway earns pounds 4,000 to pounds 5,000 in a year and it is all ploughed back.' Other attractions are a museum of smuggling and a drama festival.

Nick Noble used to be a lifeguard in a local swimming baths. Now he runs a shop on the seafront selling and hiring out surfing equipment.

'We have some of the best waves in the country,' he said. 'The coast faces North-east here and so we get large waves coming down from the Arctic ocean. And the prevailing offshore wind gives the waves the hollow shape that surfers are looking for. Saltburn is known to surfers all over England now.'

(Photographs omitted)

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit