Redcar is a seaside resort and the principal town in the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, England. It lies east-northeast of Middlesbrough by 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.

Redcar originated as a fishing town in the early 14th century, trading with the larger adjacent market town of Coatham. Until the mid 19th Century it was a sub-parish of the village of Marske-by-the-Sea, when Redcar emerged as a seaside tourist destination. With the opening of the Middlesbrough to Redcar Railway in 1846, Redcar became a resort for Victorian tourists.


Redcar means "(place by the) red marsh" from the Old English rēad "red" and Old Scandinavian kjarr. However the first part of the name could also represent OE hrēod, (reed), giving a sense "reedy marshland", referring to the low lying land by the sea on which Redcar lies. Redcar originated as a fishing town in the 1300s, trading with the larger adjacent market town of Coatham. Until the mid 19th Century it was a sub-parish of the local village of Marske-by-the-Sea (mentioned in the Domesday book).

In 1846 work was complete on the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway, created to attract local 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. With the construction of Redcar Racecourse in 1875, Redcar prospered as a seaside town drawing tourists to its eight miles of sands that lead on to Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Today Redcar is made up of numerous areas, including Coatham, Warrenby, Dormanstown, Lakes Estate, Redcar East, The Ings, Ings Farm, Mickledales and Westfield.

Zetland lifeboat

Redcar is the home of the world's oldest surviving lifeboat, the Zetland, housed in a sea front museum operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Redcar and Coatham piers

Plans for Redcar Pier were drawn up in 1866, but work was not started until 1871 by which time building a pier at Coatham had been suggested. Misfortune struck both piers very early in their lives. Coatham Pier was wrecked before it could be 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 two kiosks, an entrance with a roller-skating rink and a bandstand. In October 1898 the barque Birger almost completely wrecked the pier and afterwards the pier was allowed to disintegrate. A glass house for concerts was added to the remains of the pier. This was replaced by the New Pavilion theatre in 1928 which became the Regent cinema in the early 1960s. 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 did £1000 worth of damage and on New Year's Eve in 1885, SS Cochrane demolished the landing stage. In 1897 the schooner Amarant went through the pier and in the following year the pier head burnt down. In 1907 a pavilion ballroom was built on the pier behind the entrance kiosks and in 1928 the pavilion was extended. The pavilion continued in use after the Second World War despite the deliberate breaching (sectioning) of the pier (to prevent it being used by enemy invasion forces) and structural weakening caused by a nearby mine explosion. Damage to the pier by subsequent storms finally led to its demolition in 1981.


Historically a part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, in 1968 the town became part of the County Borough of Teesside, which was absorbed by the non-metropolitan County of Cleveland in 1974. It is now within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, and is within the region of North East England.

Politically, Redcar has tended to lean towards the Labour Party allowing the town to fall under the category of an ultra-safe seat, any change in Redcar's political views would generate a considerable amount of government interest for the area. From 1987 to 2001, the local MP was the late Mo Mowlam, and since 2001 the local MP has been Vera Baird.


The town's main employer was the nearby steelworks at Warrenby founded by Dorman Long in 1917 and the ICI Wilton chemical works of the post-war era. The steel produced at Dorman Long was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Tyne Bridge, Auckland Harbour Bridge and many others. Today steel is made further west at the Corus BOS plant in Lackenby, using iron produced at the company's Redcar blast furnace, the largest in Europe. Both sites became part of Tata Steel when Corus was taken over in 2007, but as of February 2008, they still trade under the Corus name.

The main pedestrianised shopping area is based on and around High Street and runs parallel to the sea front Esplanade.

There is a small inshore fishing fleet in Redcar catching lobster, crab and fish, and offering fishing trips to tourists. As high tide at Redcar now comes up to the sea wall, fishing cobles are permitted to park up with their trailers on a broad section of sea front pavement.

Tourism, leisure and amenities

Being a seaside resort Redcar's main employer has been tourism. Since the opening of the Middlesbrough to Redcar Railway in 1846 Redcar became a regular destination for the Victorian tourist. Every year people from North Yorkshire, Leeds and Scotland would come to Redcar for their holidays.

From the 1920s to 1970s Redcar had its donkey rides, trampolining on the beach, and ice cream. The ice cream was sold by Pacitto's, Rea's (part of Chris Rea family, song writer) and Kings who also made and sold Redcar Rock. Pacitto's are still in Redcar on the sea front selling ice cream with red sauce and their signature cone, the lemon top (dairy ice cream in a cone, with a blob of lemon sorbet on top of it).

The sand beach at Redcar stretches eight miles approximately south east and 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 three kilometre long public open strip of coastal grassland situated between the beach and the A1085 characterized by a series of howles (small chines) leading from the grassland to the beach. The Redcar coastline is a prime location for finding fossils of Gryphaea, also known as devil's toenails.

Redcar has had several parks built for tourism. These parks are Titty-Bottle Park, Coatham Enclosure, Locke Park, Zetland Park, Lily Park, and Amusement Park with its roller coaster. These parks employed hundreds of local people and are now operated by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. Today Titty Bottle Park no longer exists as such and in its place on the triangular plot of land is a red and blue, brick built toilet block and tourist information centre, (see right of 'Redcar sea front' photograph). Amusement arcades have been at Redcar since the building of the Redcar Pier in 1873, and today the arcades are still very much part of Redcar sea front life. The town is only about 9 km away from the North York Moors National Park at its closest point, near Guisborough.

When filming the adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel Atonement, Redcar experienced a sharp (approximate) 70% increase in the number of tourists who visited the town's promenade to see the film being shot. Redcar is also tipped to experience additional tourist numbers, thanks to Atonement's release into the cinemas and the film's expected popularity. This story has been highlighted in national and regional news.


As a seaside town, Redcar has long boasted a number of bars and nightclubs, and quite recently (as of 2006) three new venues have appeared on the High Street; the upmarket Blue Lounge (now re-named Aspire) and Martha's Vineyard, and the South African-themed Barracuda (Which reopened in October 2008 as The Livery), although 8 years old the Plimsoll Line is still most notably the busiest and most popular bar amongst locals mainly due to its cheap price policy.

Elgins gaining a strong reputation as a major player on the Redcar nightlife scene playing 70's, 80's and 90's on a Friday and Electro house on a Saturday, along with more traditional bars such as the Clarendon and The Hop and Grape, these three bars offer the townsfolk and visitors more choice than ever.

The seafront is home to some of Redcar's more established haunts, including Silks, Aruba (formerly Kudos/The Piper), The Deck (formerly Top Deck), and Angels, a decidedly more "adult" venue.


There are some 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.
  • On the seafront stands the grand Victorian edifice of the former Coatham Hotel. The ballroom of the hotel was the home to the Redcar Jazz Club a popular venue for the up-and-coming bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • On the sea front is the grade II listed Zetland Lifeboat Museum operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) housing the Zetland Lifeboat, the world's oldest surviving lifeboat.
  • In the east of Redcar is a sound mirror. This is a grade II listed building built during the First World War as part of a regional defence system to detect approaching aircraft (Zeppelins mainly) and give early warning. Built in 1915 the mirror was used up until the invention of radar. Although built on open fields a modern housing estate now surrounds it.


Redcar has three railway stations, on the Tees Valley Line and served by Northern Rail. From west to east they are: British Steel Redcar, with a very limited service for British Steel workers; Redcar Central serving the town centre and Redcar East about a mile to the south east which serves the residential area (unofficially) named after the station. There has been speculation locally about the development of a new station serving the expanding residential area known as The Ings, which would supposedly be situated between Redcar East railway station and Longbeck railway station in Marske-by-the-Sea, but so far no firm plans have been agreed.

On weekdays, trains run approximately every half hour in each direction, towards Saltburn eastbound and Middlesbrough, Darlington and Bishop Auckland westbound. There are also a couple of early morning through trains to Newcastle-upon-Tyne which run via Darlington and on to the East Coast Main Line via Durham and Chester-le-Street. Trains are less frequent on evenings and weekends.

The main roads through the town are the A1085 and the A174.

Redcar is served primarily by Arriva North East buses, connecting Redcar with surrounding towns and villages such as Middlesbrough, Guisborough, Eston, Marske-by-the-Sea, New Marske and Saltburn.

The Pangea North and CANTAT-3 submarine telecommunication cables both come ashore at Redcar.


Motorcycle speedway racing is staged in the town with the Redcar Bears racing in the Premier League. The track at the South Tees Motorsport Park in Southbank Street is unusual in that one bend is highly banked the other has much lower banking. The team is captained by 1992 World Champion Gary Havelock and managed by his father Brian. A junior team known as the Cubs also race in the Conference League.


The town's sixth form college is Redcar & Cleveland College . The town's secondary schools are: Redcar Community College (formerly West Redcar School), Rye Hills School and Sacred Heart RC Secondary School. There are also a number of primary schools in Redcar.


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.

Notable people

Also see the category People from Redcar.


External links

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