Staithes History

Staithes is not all about Captain Cook, but if it was that wouldn’t be a bad thing would it?  Cook was one of the World’s greatest navigators and discoverers.  Did you know Captain Bligh was under his watch at one point?  Amazingly, Cook only once managed to beach his ship and even then he was able to rebuild in the middle of nowhere to continue his navigation and mapping of many of the World’s uncharted coastlines.  Captain Cook’s Cottage was where Cook worked as a young boy, perhaps getting his sea legs but certainly his passion for the sea in his dealings out of William Sanderson’s grocers on the harbour front.  The Captain Cook Heritage Centre in the High Street does well to capture the shop and how it looked in the early 18th century and also tells a great story of Staithes over time, much of which is all about the village’s relationship with the sea, with fishing but also with ravaging storms and devastation.


There has been many a film shot in Staithes, most recently and due out in 2016, Dad’s Army, but art is probably the village’s greater claim to fame.  It’s the views don’t you know.  Many an artist is to be found with their easel on the bridge at the bottom of Pelican’s path at the back. The Staithes Art Group is a significant 19th century art movement that was formed in the village over a century ago by Dame Laura Knight and her husband Harold, Frederick Jackson, Edward Anderson and Joseph Bagshawe et al.  Nowadays, the Staithes Gallery continues to keep high class art available for sale in the village and a new gallery has just been opened by Staithes artist Ian Mitchell at the harbourside.  Whether it be the harbour, the Beck at full tide, the cliffs either side or the sea in winter, these are all Staithes scenes that have inspired artists ever since.  So much so, that the Staithes Art Festival in September each year is a weekend of open doors to all kinds of artists, many of the houses in the village displaying and hosting this talent for the weekend.

It’s no wonder film producers send their scouts here to fish for locations but they now have to scrap for the sites with Old Jack’s Boat, CBeebiesTV tales starring Bernard Cribbins and his dog Salty.  If you have youngsters they will go out the back of Pelican and point over the bridge to Old Jack’s house with glee. There is a lovely view across there at night from the windows at the rear of the house.