How Scarborough's harbour has played a key role in Britain's maritime industry

Scarborough’s harbour front has been at the heart of the North Yorkshire seaside town for as long as it has existed.

Scarborough Harbour. photo by Marisa Cashill.
Scarborough Harbour. photo by Marisa Cashill.

Today home to cafes, restaurants, pleasure boats and a working fleet of fishing vessels, it is a popular spot not only with the thousands of tourists that visit the coast each year, but with local residents too.

And over the years, it has played a vital part in Britain’s maritime industry.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

How Scarborough community is working to transform the seaside townThe incredible Roman remains discovered in modern YorkConsidered of great importance to northern trade to the east of the country, Scarborough was given the go ahead for a new port by Henry III.

According to tourism board Discover Yorkshire Coast, in 1251, the King granted a charter for the scheme.

Its words a reflection of the language of the 13th century, it said: “It is for the benefit of the town of Scardeburgh to make a certain new port with timber and stone towards the sea whereby all ships arriving thither may enter and sail out without danger.”

The fishing industry was key to the success of the port, but shipbuilding too supported it to continue for centuries as a prime maritime centre - despite 120 vessels being taken from the harbour when Scarborough was sieged in 1645 as part of the Civil War.

By the 1780s, there were 1,500 seamen belonging to the port and between 1785 and 1810, there were more than 200 ships built there.

“At the beginning of the 19th century, Scarborough was one of the principal ship building centres on the east coast,” the tourism board sets out.

“In 1849, a company was formed to provide means for repairing ships at Scarborough. A floating dock was built capable of taking ships up to 300 tons.”

Today, whilst the town retains a commercial fishing fleet ranging from large trawlers to smaller vessels, many of its harbour moorings are for leisure craft and passenger pleasure boats.

For those not planning to take to the sea though, a walk along the historic waterfront offers charming harbour views and a trip up to the town’s castle provides a great panorama - and of the dramatic Yorkshire coastline too.

Technical details: Fujifilm X-T3, 16-55mm lens, ISO 400mm, 1/250 sec F22.