Redcar is a seaside resort and town located in the borough and unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland in the North East of England. Historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, it lies 7.5 miles (12.1 km) east-north-east of Middlesbrough on the North Sea coast. The combined population of the wards of Coatham, Dormanstown, Kirkleatham, Newcomen, West Dyke and Zetland was 36,610 in the 2001 census decreasing to 35,692 in the 2011 census. It is part of the Teesside conurbation.
High street, Redcar
|OS grid reference||NZ601252|
|• London||220 mi (350 km) SSE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
Redcar occupies a low-lying site by the sea; the second element of its name is from Old Scandinavian kjarr, meaning 'marsh', and the first may be either Old English rēad meaning 'red' or OE hrēod 'reed'. Redcar originated as a fishing town in the 14th century, trading with the larger adjacent market town of Coatham. Until the mid-19th century it was a sub-parish of Marske-by-the-Sea—mentioned in the Domesday book.
In 1846 work was completed on the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway, created to attract tourism and trade, but like much of the Middlesbrough region, Redcar's real population expansion began with the discovery in 1850 of iron ore in the Eston area of the Cleveland Hills. After the construction of Redcar Racecourse in 1875, Redcar prospered as a seaside town drawing tourists attracted by its eight miles of sands stretching from South Gare to Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Numerous ships have foundered off the Redcar coastline and many of their wrecks still exist.
The Zetland is the world's oldest surviving lifeboat. It was built by Henry Greathead of South Shields and is housed in a sea-front museum at Redcar. The museum operated by a group of volunteers. The lifeboat was first stationed at Redcar in 1802.
Redcar and Coatham piers
Plans for a pier were drawn up in 1866, but lay dormant until prompted by the announcement of plans to build a pier at Coatham in 1871. Misfortune struck both piers soon after they were built.
Coatham Pier was wrecked before it was completed when two sailing ships were driven through it in a storm. It had to be shortened because of the cost of repairs and was re-opened with an entrance with two kiosks and a roller-skating rink on the Redcar side, and a bandstand halfway along its length. In October 1898 the pier was almost wrecked when the barque Birger struck it and the pier was thereafter allowed to disintegrate. A glass house for concerts was added to its remaining section and in 1928 was replaced by the New Pavilion theatre which became the Regent Cinema in the early 1960s. Comedian and entertainer Larry Grayson coined his catchphrase "Shut that Door!" while performing there, since the stage door was open to the cold North Sea breeze. An anchor from the Birger can be seen on the sea front pavement opposite the Zetland Lifeboat Museum.
Disaster struck Redcar Pier in the 1880s and 1890s when a series of ships broke through it. In October 1880 the brig Luna caused £1,000 worth of damage. On New Year's Eve 1885 SS Cochrane demolished the landing stage. In 1897 the schooner Amarant went through the pier and in the following year the pier head and bandstand burned down. In 1907 a pavilion ballroom was built on the pier behind the entrance kiosks and in 1928 it was extended. The pier was deliberately breached (sectioned) in 1940 to prevent its use by enemy invasion forces. As a result of sectioning, damage by a mine explosion and deterioration it was never reconnected and instead allowed to become even more dilapidated. The pavilion continued in use after the war but storm damage led to it being declared unsafe and it was demolished in 1980–1981.
The town's main employers in the post-war era were the nearby Teesside Steelworks at Warrenby, founded by Dorman Long in 1917, and the ICI Wilton chemical works. The steel produced at Dorman Long was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Tyne Bridge, Auckland Harbour Bridge and many others. Both the Warrenby and Lackenby sites became part of Tata Steel when Corus was taken over in 2007, but continued to trade under the Corus name until at least February 2008. SSI bought the plant from Tata Steel in February 2011, for £320 million.
After a two-year hiatus following the mothballing of the plant in February 2010, steel was once again being made at Redcar. The Thai owners of the former Corus Plant at Lackenby, Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI), re-ignited the blast furnace, one of the largest in Europe, on 15 April 2012.
On 18 September 2015, production was paused due to the decline in steel prices. On 28 September 2015, the plant was "mothballed" amid poor steel trading conditions across the world and a drop in steel prices. On 2 October, the owner of the site, SSI UK, entered liquidation. On 12 October 2015 the administrator announced that there was no realistic prospect of finding a buyer and the ovens would be extinguished.
The town became part of the County Borough of Teesside in 1968 and was absorbed by the non-metropolitan County of Cleveland in 1974. After further changes Redcar is situated in the unitary authority of Redcar & Cleveland and in the Tees Valley region of the North East of England and also the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire.
From 1987 to 2001, the local MP was Mo Mowlam, from 2001 to 2010 the MP was Vera Baird. In the 2010 general election there was a swing to the Liberal Democrats with Ian Swales being elected. But, in the 2015 general election, Anna Turley, a Labour MP, won back Redcar. In the surprise 2017 general election, Anna Turley held onto that seat. In the general election held on 12 December 2019, Anna Turley lost her seat to conservative candidate Jacob Young with a majority of 3,527 votes. Young becomes the third conservative MP to represent Redcar, the first being Royal Naval Commander Robert Tatton Bower 1931 to 1945 and Scarborough businessman Wilfred Proudfoot between 1959 to 1964 when Redcar was part of the Cleveland constituency.
The town comprises four wards: Coatham, Newcomen, West Dyke and Zetland. In addition, the suburbs of Dormanstown and Kirkleatham are two wards. On 5 May 2011 Redcar elected its councillors to Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. There was a by-election on 18 November 2011 for two vacant seats in the Zetland ward, held onto by the Liberal Democrats, and on 19 January 2012 there was a by-election for a vacant seat in Newcomen ward subsequently gained by Labour from the Liberal Democrats. In May 2017, Redcar, along with the rest of the newly formed Tees Valley Combined Authority, voted for their first mayor of the area, with the Conservative candidate, Ben Houchen, winning.
After the opening of the Middlesbrough to Redcar Railway in 1846 Redcar became a regular destination for Victorian tourists. Each year people from the North Riding of Yorkshire, Leeds and Scotland visited Redcar for their holidays.
From the 19th century to the present day Redcar has featured donkey rides – owned by the Burnistons established locally in antiques and jewellery, scrap metal, mechanics and wool. In the 1970s there were also pony rides, pony trap rides and roundabouts, swings, a helter skelter and trampolining on the beach; the roundabouts and swings were run by showman Victor Vernon and his family who still have rides on the promenade.
- Sea Front
The sand beach at Redcar stretches approximately 8 miles (13 km) from south-east to north-west. In the north-west the beach runs past Coatham to South Gare breakwater at the mouth of the River Tees. To the south-east the sand beach is bordered by the Stray from Redcar's Zetland Park to Marske-by-the-Sea and then continues on to Saltburn. The Stray is a 2-mile (3 km) long public open strip of coastal grassland situated between the beach and the A1085 road characterised by a series of howles (small chines) leading from the grassland to the beach. The Redcar coastline is a major location for finding fossils of Gryphaea, also known as devil's toenails.
Amusement arcades have existed at Redcar since the building of the Redcar Pier in 1873, and today the arcades are to be found along the Esplanade.
The Hub art gallery and business start up centre is also on the sea front.
Redcar is home to the Tuned In! Centre, which opened in 2011 and overlooks the sea front. The multi purpose venue hosts live music as well as creative workshops for young people. Annual event Clubland on the Beach, which showcases big dance acts attracting thousands of visitors from across the country, has been held at Majuba Road in Redcar for the past three years. The town has several micro pubs, which regularly host live music.
- Atonement (film)
In 2006, Redcar was used as a location for the film adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel Atonement. The Coatham Hotel, Regent Cinema, a section of Newcomen Terrace and part of the beach were dressed as 1940s Dunkirk. Filming took place across three days in August 2006, with local men playing the soldiers.
- The Secret Millionaire (TV programme)
In 2010, Redcar was featured on the Channel 4 programme The Secret Millionaire. David Jamilly a humanitarian, philanthropist and self-made millionaire, visited the Redcar community and gave £25,000 to Zoë's Place for a sensory room, £25,000 to Redcar Amateur Boxing Club to start an Olympic fund, and £25,000 to Sid's Place for special counselling.
There was a subsequent visit on 14 May to a screening at Redcar's cinema, attended by the mayor and mayoress along with all the charities and people involved. The feature of the documentary involved the closure of the nearby Corus steelworks as well as the charities. On 9 December 2011, Jamilly opened the new Redcar Education Development centre in Park Avenue, Redcar. The centre provides day care for adults with learning difficulties. He also opened the Redcar Primary Care Hospital on 9 December 2011 and the new Sid's Place on 15 December 2011.
- The Mighty Redcar (TV programme)
The town was filmed for the 2018 BBC documentary The Mighty Redcar. The four-part series followed young people from Redcar and surrounding towns as they completed their studies and looked for work.
Zetland lifeboat museum
Former Coatham Hotel
On the sea front stands the Victorian building of the former Coatham Hotel. The ballroom of the hotel was home to the Redcar Jazz Club, a venue for the up-and-coming bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The town has had several parks built for tourism: Coatham Enclosure, Locke Park, Zetland Park, Lily Park, an Amusement Park with a roller coaster, and a small sea front park known locally as Titty Bottle Park. The Amusement Park near the railway closed decades ago, and Titty Bottle Park was absorbed ito the redeveloped sea front around Redcar Beacon.
Construction started on the Redcar Beacon started in 2011. In 2013 it was nominated for the Building Design Carbuncle Cup for worst new building. It came third in the whole of the UK. In December 2015, the Beacon was damaged by winds from Storm Desmond, with several large pieces of panelling falling onto the beach below. It was also damaged in winter 2016, where a panel from the top fell off in a storm.
There are about twenty three listed buildings in Redcar. At the west end of High Street is a Grade II listed clock tower, a memorial to King Edward VII who was a regular visitor to Redcar. The tower has now been refurbished.
To the east of Redcar is the listed Church of St Peter, designed by Ignatius Bonomi and built 1822–28.
In the south-east of Redcar is an aircraft listening post built in 1916 during the First World War as part of a regional defence system to detect approaching aircraft, principally Zeppelins, and give early warning. It is an example of an acoustic mirror, of which other examples can be found along the east coast of Britain. The mirror was used up until the invention of radar and although it was built on open fields today a modern housing estate now surrounds it. Only the concrete sound mirror remains and is now a Grade II listed building.
Redcar has two railway stations, on the Tees Valley line. From west to east, they are Redcar Central, serving the town centre served by Northern & Transpennine Express, and Redcar East served by Northern about a mile to the south-east serving the residential area (unofficially) named after the station which is popular with families. A third station Redcar British Steel served the steelworks but this station closed in December 2019.
The main roads through the town are the A1085 and the A1042, with the A174 bypassing. Redcar is served primarily by Arriva North East buses, connecting Redcar with the surrounding towns and villages of Middlesbrough, Guisborough, Eston, Marske-by-the-Sea, New Marske and Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
The town's further education college is Redcar & Cleveland College. The town's secondary schools are: Redcar Academy, Sacred Heart Secondary Catholic Voluntary Academy and Rye Hills School. There are eleven primary schools in Redcar: Coatham, Dormanstown, Green Gates, Ings Farm, John E Batty, Lakes, Newcomen, Riverdale, St Benedict's, Wheatlands and Zetland.
Redcar is home to Redcar Racecourse, a racecourse for thoroughbred horse racing. There is also a motorcycle speedway racing team, the Redcar Bears racing in the Premier League. The race track is at the South Tees Motorsport Park in Southbank Street, South Bank and is unusual in that one bend is more highly banked than the other. The team was formerly captained by 1992 World Champion Gary Havelock and is managed by his father Brian. A junior team known as the Cubs also race in the Conference League. Redcar Rugby Union Football club plays at Mackinlay Park.
In Coatham in the west of Redcar is Cleveland Golf Club, the first golf club to be formed in Yorkshire and one of the few links courses in the county. Also in Coatham is Redcar Cricket Club and Redcar Running Club.
The American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne came to Redcar on 26 July 1859 in search of peace and quiet while he worked on the manuscript of The Marble Faun. Hawthorne's house, formerly known as the Hawthorne Cafe, stands at the junction of High Street and King Street. Gertrude Bell, colonial administrator and colleague of Lawrence of Arabia spent her youthful years at Red Barns House in Coatham, Previously the Red Barns Hotel and a listed building, which now stands empty but is being considered as a museum to Bell. The surviving negatives of Redcar photographer Alfred Edward Graham (1882–1945) were acquired by Redcar Urban District Council's Library and Museum Committee and are now held by the Redcar and Cleveland Museum Service.
Rex Hunt, governor of the Falkland Islands during the 1982 invasion by Argentina, attended Coatham School. The late Minister for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, represented Redcar in the House of Commons.
Film and television actors Pip Donaghy, June Laverick, and Wendy Hall, and actor/director/producer Robert Porter were all born in Redcar. Actor and radio actor Felicity Finch, famous for her part in the Archers BBC Radio 4 drama series, playing Ruth Archer, was also born and grew up in Redcar.
Singer David Coverdale, lead singer with Deep Purple and Whitesnake lived in Redcar as a youth and worked in the Gentry clothes shop on Coatham Road. Chris Norman, founder member and former lead singer of Smokie was born in Redcar. Pete York, drummer with the Spencer Davis Group and session drummer was born in Redcar.
Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, originally from Wales, lived in Redcar for a number of years with her husband and daughter. 2011 and 2016 UCI Downhill World Champion Danny Hart was born in and currently lives in Redcar, he is frequently nicknamed "The Redcar Rocket" by commentators. Robbie Stockdale, ex Middlesbrough footballer and now first team coach of Premier League side Sunderland was born in Redcar. David Wheater, Bolton Wanderers and England national football team central defender, grew up and still lives in Redcar. Snooker player Mike Dunn was born in Middlesbrough but lives in Redcar. Musician James Arthur is from Redcar, who played in several bands before winning The X Factor in 2012.
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