By Thomas Reyer
First things first, unless you’re from Teesside, it’s likely you’ve never heard of the seaside town of Redcar. However, once you’ve finished this article I can guarantee it’ll be at the top of your post-lockdown visiting list… probably.
Possibly most well-known of late for the steelworks, let me tell you why else you should know our little town.
Little bit of history
Redcar first really appeared on the map thanks to the newly built Stockton and Darlington railway during the mid 1800’s. The railway allowed day trippers to visit the seaside and brought industry to the area and once Redcar racecourse opened in 1875, tourism started to rapidly increase.
At the time, Redcar racecourse was owned by Lord Zetland and during the Crimean War, six of his horsemen were members of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Tourism was at its peak during the August bank holiday of 1954. Trains packed with tourists were arriving at the station every six minutes.
It also boasts having the oldest lifeboat in the world – The Zetland. First launching in 1802, you can now visit it in the free Zetland Lifeboat Museum on the seafront.
There aren’t many famous people from Redcar it has to be said, however, if you really delve into the history books then you will find out about Gertrude Bell. Bell was a political officer, traveller and archaeologist who worked with Lawrence of Arabia and drew the boundaries that eventually became Iraq – read all about her here.
Why visit today?
The seafront is still as enticing as ever to make a trip to on a sunny summer’s day. You can nip to Pacitto’s for one of their legendary ice-creams, spend the day on the beach sunbathing and having a dip in the sea, visit one of the many amusement arcades or even have a venture up the polarizing, yet oddly satisfying vertical pier. It’s not quite the beaches of southern France, but seeing a guy in his 40’s drinking a bottle of white lightning on the beach is a sight to behold in itself.
Although high street closures have led to various ‘virtual shops’ appearing around the town, there are local and independent shops aplenty. Whether it be the butchers, fruit and veg shops or café’s and restaurants, there are endless opportunities to come and support local business.
It can sometimes feel that smaller, north-eastern towns such as Redcar are getting left behind and ignored in relation to development, but it’s getting there slowly but surely. You can now get a train straight to Manchester from Redcar Central and if you happened to catch the Mighty Redcar on BBC2 last year, then you may well know all about this town and the exposure it generated.
One thing that Redcar has never had a problem with – is its pubs. There is, always has and always will be an abundance of pubs and clubs in the town.
Still open today is The Deck (formerly the Top Deck), a nightclub that has been welcoming revellers since the 1970’s. Although these days you may question your decision to head there after a few beers the following morning, you can’t deny the character of the place.
There have been many clubs in the generations gone by and most pubs on the high street have been there for my whole lifetime and then some.
If you’re looking to get lost in a conversation with a random guy who could probably tell you the history of Redcar since the 1300’s, then the high street is the place to be.
However, if you’re after a good beer in a modern micro-pub or fancy a cocktail in a speciality bar, then head over to our very own ‘Northern Quarter’ to quench that thirst. From The Pitcher House and The Halt to the Gypsy Rover and O’Gradys, there is something for everyone down there.
What the locals say
Conor Askins, 22 – Redcar is a kind-spirited, picturesque town full of lots of interesting characters. The people are friendly and growing up you expect everyone in the country to be that friendly. You only realise how open and welcoming the town is when you experience living in another town/city.
Sarah Craggs, 36 – I was born and raised in Redcar, but moved away with work in 2008. I often return to visit family and friends and still love it here. It has changed a lot over the past 15 years, some changes are vibrant and encouraging to residents and visitors (like the sea-front renovations and vertical pier) and some are reflective of the ever-changing retail sector with many shops being closed and remaining empty.
Colin Crawford, 68 – Redcar. The sea, the beach, the river mouth, every single day of the year is a new surprise.
Like all places, Redcar isn’t perfect, in fact, it’s far from it, but the people make Redcar and we have a fantastic crop of them.