Staithes, Whitby.
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Staithes is a small, picturesque seaside village, with cobbled streets, in North Yorkshire; it derives its name from the word staithe the literal interpretation of which is "landing place"; in conversation locals refer to the village as "Steers" so beware if asking for directions; Roxby Beck, a stream running through Staithes, is also the border between the Borough of Scarborough, Redcar and Cleveland and the coastal cliffs in the area expose the fossiliferous Cleveland Ironstone of the Middle Lias 'Lower Jurassic'.

Staithes is on the Jurassic Coast and is an excellent place to look for fossils, especially nearby the Staithes Sandstone at Cowbar Nab on the east side; however, the shales and ironstone is easier to get to when the tide is out; at Old Nab, about 1 kilometre further down the coast you will be able to get to the Cleveland Ironstone which is exposed and consists of shales with prominant ironstone beds.

In the early 1990s a rare fossil of a seagoing dinosaur was discovered after a rockfall between Staithes and Port Mulgrave to the south; this fossil has been the focus of an ongoing project to remove the ancient bones of the creature; Port Mulgrave remains one of the best places on the northern coast to find fossils of ammonites and many visitors spend hours cracking open the shaly rocks on the shoreline in the hope of finding a perfect specimen.

Staithes is now largely a tourist destination, thanks to its charming scenery, heritage and walks; however, it was formerly one of the largest and most productive fishing centres in England and at the turn of the 20th century, there were 80 full time fishing boats putting out from Staithes; now unfortunately, there is only one, a family fishing operation worked by three generations of the Hanson family.

Staithes has a long tradition of using the coble for fishing; it is a flat-bottomed and high-bowed boat, which was designed to cope with the particular conditions prevalent in this area; the flat bottoms allowed the boats to be launched from, and landed upon, the shallow, sandy beaches, which is an advantage in this part of the coast where the wide bays and inlets provided little shelter from stormy weather.


Staithes has a sheltered harbour, bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters; a mile to the west, Boulby Cliff is the highest cliff in England and for a brief period it was mined for alum, a mineral used to improve the strength and permanency of colour when dying cloth; the mining operation was relatively short lived as a cheaper chemical method was developed; the ruined remnants of the mines can be seen from the cliff top when walking the Cleveland Way between Staithes and Skinningrove.

The village was home to a group of twenty to thirty artists known as the "Staithes group" or the "Northern Impressionists."; the group contained renowned artists such as Edward E. Anderson, Joseph R. Bagshawe, Thomas Barrett and James W. Booth and was inspired by other impressionists such as Monet, Cezanne and Renoir; Dame Laura Knight became the most famous member of the Staithes Group; she and her husband and fellow painter Harold Knight kept a studio in the village.

In 1745 to 1746, Staithes's most famous resident, James Cook, born in Marton near Middlesbrough, worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his passion for the sea; he moved to nearby Whitby where he joined the Royal Navy; William Sanderson's shop, where Cook worked, was destroyed by the sea, but parts were recovered and incorporated into "Captain Cook's Cottage"; this has been the residency of a local Staithes family for several generations.

Famous People: James Cook.

 

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