From Captain Cook to CBeebies at the seaside

PIC: Tony JohnsonPIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson
it was famously home to a young James Cook before the seafaring adventurer made his name as the captain who helped map the Pacific.

Nowadays, the quaint fishing village of Staithes (pronounced locally as ‘Steers’) on the North Yorkshire coast is known for a rather different reason as the location where CBeebies pre-school show Old Jack’s Boat, which stars Bernard Cribbins, is filmed.

Originally a Viking settlement, Staithes became one of the largest fishing ports on the north east coast of England. At its height, the industry employed 300 men and when the railway opened in the late 19th Century, three trains per week took fish from Staithes harbour to be sold in cities across the country.

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But at the turn of the 20th Century, the local fishing industry was essentially destroyed by competition from steam trawlers at larger ports. However a strong seafaring tradition has been retained, with traditional boats known as ‘cobles’ still leaving from the harbour.

Visitors wishing to reach the harbour need to pass down a steep cobbled lane, passing the alleyways of the old village that include Dog Loup, the narrowest street in Northern England at just 18 inches wide. The village is steeped in history and was the place where a 16-year-old James Cook came as an apprentice to a local grocer and draper in 1744, before leaving for Whitby two years later to pursue a life at sea.

While the railway that opened in the late 1800s helped support the village’s fishermen, it also opened Staithes up to holidaymakers and it became a magnet for artists, eventually becoming home to the famous Staithes group of impressionist painters in the early 1900s.

The great charm of the fishing village is still a great pull for visitors today. It has also enchanted Cribbins, who has been filming his children’s show in the village since 2013.

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The veteran actor says: “I’ve filmed in a lot of locations throughout my career, but there’s something about the sea air, the beauty and the friendliness in Staithes that makes it a special place to be.”

Technical details: Fujifilm X-Pro1, 18-55mm lens, exposure of 1/60th sec @ f8, ISO 800.