Saltwick Bay!!

Saltwick Bay

Saltwick Bay
Saltwick Bay is a north-east facing bay approximately one mile (1.6 km) to the east of Whitby, and can be accessed directly from Whitby Holiday Park. The bay contains the Saltwick Nab alum quarries, listed under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The bay is part of the Saltwick Formation and known for its collections of fossils. The SS Rohilla hospital ship sank in the bay in 1914, and the fishing trawler Admiral Von Tromp was shipwrecked there in 1976. 


Quarrying led to the discovery of fossils, and the bay is now known as being a location for fossils from the Lower Jurassic period. Fossils commonly found at Saltwick Bay include the Dactylioceras and Hildoceras, as well as fossilised plant remains. Cuspiteuthis tubularis fossils can be found near the Black Nab, an island in the bay.Alum was quarried at Saltwick Bay, with the first recorded quarrying being by Sir Hugh Chomley, who lived at Whitby Abbey, in the 17th century. The alum quarries were built on promontories and were 180m (590 ft) in length and 35m (115 ft) in depth. The quarries eventually closed in 1791. There is also evidence of a medieval harbour at Saltwick Bay, and in the 18th century, Saltwick Bay and Whitby Harbour had a one-mile (1.6 km) triangular shale reef.

In around 1764 a horse skeleton was found about 30 yards (27 m) underground in the alum mines at Saltwick Bay, and in 1824 an almost complete skeleton of the extinct teleosaurid Steneosaurus bollensis was discovered at the bay. The skeleton is now displayed at the Whitby Museum which you can find at Pannett Park. Other skeletons found at Saltwick Bay have included the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur.

On the sands of Saltwick Bay stand boats that have been through the worst nightmare of any captain, shipwrecks.

  • In 1914, the hospital ship SS Rohilla sank near Saltwick Nab in the bay; 146 of the 229 on board, including Captain Neilson and all the nurses, as well as Titanic survivor Mary Kezia Roberts, survived. The conditions made rescue extremely difficult, but lifeboats from Whitby, Upgang (near Whitby), Redcar, Tynemouth and Scarborough helped with the rescue attempts. 

  • Walking alongside the small beach that is famed for its fossils, if you bear right on the beach (facing the sea), after clambering the rocks you will come across the remains of the Von Tromp. 

Rewind to October 30th 1976, and take yourself to Scarborough Harbour. The original course was set at Barnacle Bay (40 miles NNE of Scarborough), but the trawler never got to its destination.Instead, Taal was awoken by bumps and felt as though the boat was heeling. A skipper on the crew asked John what he was doing but Addison looked back to the skipper in silence. Frankie tried to save the boat but it was too late, they were heading straight on Black Nabb, on Saltwick Bay. Frankie Taal went to check on his trustworthy seaman John Addison, a man who was more than experienced when it came to steering a boat. Taal had a coffee, and knowing the boat was in good hands he went to sleep, safe in the knowledge that he would be awoken when the crew arrived at their destination. But that didn’t happen…
All attempts were made to investigate what happened to the boat, but it was a mystery that would never be solved. The boat was found 90 degrees off course with no reason as to why. The weather was reported as being fine, the crewmen were sober, and, according to a senior nautical surveyor, if the boat was left to its own devices it would not have gone off course… it appeared the boat had purposely been driven into the rocks.
The only man that could shed light on the horrific and mysterious incident, John Addison, died during the sinking.
The wreck of the Von Tromp can still be seen today at low tide in Saltwick Bay. 

Saltwick Nab
Alum is a chemical used principally in the textile industry for fixing dyes. It is not found in a natural state in Britain but can be manufactured from some types of shale. During the medieval period in Britain alum was mostly imported from Italy. Domestic production began in the north of England in the early 17th century. The industry flourished in the north for 200 years until the mid-19th century when it was overtaken by new techniques using shale from coal mining, whilst after 1880 aluminium sulphate replaced alum for most industrial purposes. The last English aluminium works (at Goole) closed in 1950. Approximately 50 alum sites have been identified in England. Most were along the Cleveland and Yorkshire coast. Other early sites are known on the south coast, particularly in Dorset and Hampshire.

Alum works comprise two main monument types: the quarry where extraction and initial processing took place, and the alum house where final processing took place. Alum shale was extracted from quarries sited on steep inland hillsides or coastal cliffs. Initial processing on the quarry floor consisted of calcination by burning shale in clamps, and the production in settling pits of alum liquor. The liquor was transported to processing works in sealed casks or through wooden channels known as liquor troughs. Larger quarries possessed inclines and haulage gear and sometimes harbour facilities. Evidence of secondary industries such as Epsom salts and iron silicates production is also preserved at alum works. 

The alum site at Saltwick Nab preserves important evidence of the quarrying and processing activities. In addition to the 19th century workings, remains of the early industry and its development will be preserved. The site offers important scope for the study of the development of the alum industry.

The monument includes remains of the alum quarries and associated features at the western end of Saltwick Nab, 2 km east of Whitby. As well as the quarries, the monument also includes steeping pits and cisterns used for initial processing and a slip way lying on the foreshore which was part of the harbour facilities. The monument is divided into two separate areas, one including both the quarry face and floor and the other including the slip way. 

Alum was first quarried at the west end of Saltwick Bay in 1649, and this continued intermittently until operations ceased in 1791. The alum was processed at an alum house which was erected in 1770 to the east of the monument; previous to this the alum was shipped to South Shields for processing. The remains of this alum house have been destroyed by coastal erosion. 

As you can see Saltwick Bay has a fascinating History and the fact that it is accessible directly from the park makes Whitby Holiday Park the best place to stay to take full advantage of what there is here. 

As well as the ship wrecks, the fossil hunting and the history of Saltwick Nab, Saltwick Bay Beach is also a great place to take the children for a play in the sand. This is also a popular place for fishing and if you're lucky you can see many Seals from the beach too.  

If this has peaked your interest and you would like to come and stay with us then you can enquire now in a variety of ways...

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