Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rescue drama near Saltburn Cliff Lift

A man who went chasing after his escaped dog sparked a dramatic rescue operation when he fell down a Saltburn cliff and knocked himself unconscious.

Firefighters joined police and ambulance personnel in the search after reports that a man had disappeared down the side of the upper promenade near the junction of Amber Street and Marine Parade shortly after 10.39pm on Monday night.

A fire crew from Saltburn used a thermal image camera and lighting in the search. They were joined by the police helicopter, which is also equipped with heat-seeking equipment. The man was found in the dense undergrowth.

Police said the 32-year-old man had been for a night out drinking before returning home.

His dog escaped and he chased it, only to slip and fall over the railings near the cliff lift when he ran after it.

As the man lay unconscious on the steep, bramble-strewn bank, several other men who had been drinking were discouraged by police from going to his rescue.

Cleveland Fire Brigade sent a crew from Saltburn fire station to rescue the man, who was found in undergrowth with the assistance of the police helicopter.

The rescue team used ropes, a thermal imaging camera and flashlights in the dramatic rescue operation.

The unconscious man was then placed on a spinal board and lifted back up to a waiting ambulance.

He came around in the ambulance and was taken to James Cook University Hospital with injuries described as “not life-threatening”.

He complained of a headache and had suffered several grazes to his body. He remained in the Middlesbrough hospital where his condition was described as stable.

Local photographer Ian Forsyth, who witnessed the dramatic rescue, praised the emergency services for the way they handled the incident.

He said: “It was a very good job that the emergency services did across the board. There were people on the lower promenade and people on the upper prom and they all did a really good job.

“You could see them battling through the dense undergrowth of brambles. They weren’t the easiest conditions to work in, but they found him and got him sorted.”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saltburn - A Town with Unique Charms

This article appeared in North East Liferecently:

If you’re concerned that England is losing its eccentricity amid all those bland American malls and chain stores, get yourself to Saltburn. The place has enough quirks and kinks to restore your faith in English idiosyncrasy.

Take the mysterious Saltburn yarnbombers. One morning in March, the town awoke to discover an entire Olympics created in wool wrapped around the pier. There were knitted gymnasts and weightlifters, hurdlers and canoeists in the 50-yard-long creation.

A few weeks later the yarnbombers struck again. This time it was a Diamond Jubilee tribute, with the woolly Queen depicted in a number of outfits, several corgis and Princess Beatrice and her mad hat. On both occasions thousands of people flocked to Saltburn to witness the woolly works.

And this is only the latest manifestation of Saltburn’s enjoyably odd way of doing things.

‘The turning point was in the early eighties,' recalls parish councillor and community activist Jim Wingham. ‘The council funded a Victorian weekend. People took it to their bosom and they dressed up.'

‘People would walk along the prom then go in the pubs and have a drink. Then, many years ago, a chap had an idea of forming a Victorian football club. They dressed up in Victorian clothes and they all stuck on false moustaches and they played football on the beach.’

Over the years the Saltburn Victorian Footballers raised thousands for local youth groups in the town. And their exploits inspired a gala day with a duck derby and aircraft display, this year attracting 20,000 to the town.
Jim believes these adventures are sparked by a special community spirit – the same spirit which has helped to preserve and restore the town since he first clapped eyes on it 42 years ago.

‘I fell in love with Saltburn, even though she was a lady with mucky skirts. The pier and everything was neglected,’ said Jim, who is now 71.
‘But the view from the top prom across to Huntcliff is one of the iconic views of England. It’s my favourite view.’

Today, he says, ‘she’s wearing newer clothes and make-up’, thanks to investment and hard work. And the proud townsfolk are responsible.
‘The community work together. We have litter picks. We’ve been very successful in Britain In Bloom. They’re very dedicated people, and if you suggest there are too many hanging baskets they look at you with looks that could kill,’ jokes Jim.

If any part of the town’s heritage comes under threat, the town rallies. He became involved in the parish council after forming Save Our Saltburn, a campaign to preserve the railway station. A similar crusade kept open Huntcliff School which went on to grow and prosper.

Wilma Gardiner-Gill, arts development promoter at Saltburn Community and Arts Association, has a similar story to tell.

‘There’s a huge community element in the town, campaigning to save things. The junior school would probably have been flats by now, but the town got together and saved it.

‘And that happens all the time. There’s Friends of the Pier, Friends of the Valley Gardens, lots of pockets of groups, a real community base.’
The reprieved junior school will re-open in autumn as a sister venue to the Saltburn Arts Theatre and Community Hall.

‘It’s over a hundred years old so the rooms are huge,’ Wilma said. ‘There is going to be a town archive there. There’ll be a rehearsal space, costume storage, a skateboard park, lots of exhibition space. We’re going to be very busy.’

Make that busier. Saltburn Community and Arts Association already stages a list of events which is as broad as it is long.

There are monthly jazz nights and an annual music competition, a film society with more than 200 members and a yearly film festival, popular comedy nights every month, local bands and big bands, magic and cabaret.

The Saltburn Folk Festival takes over the town for three days in August and there are regular art and photographic competitions.

Clearly it’s a creative place. ‘There’s a huge pool of artists,’ Wilma agrees. ‘And not just painters. There are also lots of writers.'

‘I’ve been here 15 years, and it’s always had that reputation. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because we’re right next to the sea and a beautiful beach, we’ve got history and minutes away you’re on the moors.’

Plenty of famous names have been lured to Saltburn too, she said. ‘At our first film festival six years ago, Barry Norman came along. He’s a really lovely man. We’ve had Honor Blackman too and Eric Knowles came and did an antiques thing for us.’

Last year the town responded with customary enthusiasm to Saltburn 150, a year-long festival to mark the 150th anniversary of the railway arriving. There were lectures, a beer festival, a beach spectacular and the creation of special mosaics depicting life in the town.

Wilma secured funding to commission a filmmaker to capture the celebrations, and the Saltburn 150 movie was due to be shown for the first time at the town film festival in late August.

‘He’s filmed something like 70 hours of footage and he’s somehow condensed that into an hour and a half,’ she said.

No doubt the film provides an excellent snapshot of Saltburn. But you need a lot longer than 90 minutes to get to know this remarkable seaside town in all its eccentric glory.

Sherlock homes in on clues left by the Romans in Loftus.

The following article by Chris Webber appeared in the Northern Echo today:

An archaeologist has unearthed a Roman villa close to where he found a buried Saxon princess five years ago.

The newly-discovered site, dating back to about 370AD, belonged to an important Romano-British chieftain.

Two rooms have already been excavated by archaeologist Steve Sherlock, who discovered priceless Saxon princess jewels and artefacts in 2007.

He says there are perhaps 20 more rooms still to be uncovered at the site in Loftus, near Saltburn, East Cleveland.

A large paved area with a room about ten metres by six metres has so far been found, together with a second smaller room to the east, with a paved area leading from the other room.

Pottery and other artefacts have been discovered, which suggest the villa is more than 16 centuries old. Mr Sherlock, 58, of Redcar, said: “This villa, part of an agricultural estate, is of national importance.

It's very rare in the North of England and there have only been about four ever found in the Teesside region.

One was found a few years ago in Ingleby Barwick.

But this one is a very high status building which would have housed someone of high importance, a Romano- British chieftain and his family, retinue and slaves.”

Mr Sherlock and his team of volunteers are back filling the dig on the elevated, rural site this weekend, closing it down for the winter until work resumes next year.

The public can visit tomorrow, between 11am and 3pm, to have a last look for themselves.

He said: “We also know jet was made on this site. No jewellery is on site and we have not yet found any mosaics.

Villas in the Tees Valley tended not to have mosaics.”

He said the site has been occupied since Neolithic times, adding: “They picked this site because it was on fertile land, near the sea for transport and fish for food and there was a Roman road nearby.”

The villa is only about 100 metres south of the worldclass Saxon princess bed burial discovery of 2007.

The excavations are being undertaken with the support of the landowners Alan Bothroyd, at Upton Farm, and Tony Garbutt, at Street House Farm.

They are supported by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and are carried out by members of Teesside Archaeological Society and local volunteers.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Reggord Breaker!

Kevin brings eggstra-special World Record from New York to Saltburn!

A strong-stomached foodie has brought a brand new World Record all the way from New York to Saltburn.

Cheered on by scores of enthusiastic shoppers, fitness instructor Kevin Hayes, 44, smashed the Guinness World Record for eating three pickled eggs in the fastest time at Saltburn Farmers’ Market yesterday (Sat 8 Sept).
Kevin’s time of 52.60 seconds sliced almost six seconds off the previous world record of 58.16 seconds, set by American Ashrita Furman at the Panorama CafĂ© in New York on 12 July 2010.

Kevin, from Garnet Street, was the tenth and final foodie to step up to the plate, after nine plucky contestants had found the going tough – with apprentice electrical engineer Jack Wilson, 17, from Brotton coming closest, just four seconds away from smashing the old New York record.

Kevin’s feat was made even more impressive after he literally decided on the spur of the moment to take part.

Speaking just after smashing the record, Kevin said: “I’d heard about this and was at the Market anyway, so I thought I’d give it a crack. I love my food and knew I could do it, so it feels absolutely amazing to break the record.”

The world record attempt was the brainchild of Farmers’ Market stallholder David Laing, with eggs provided from his 170 free-range woodland chickens and rescued former battery hens at Grewgrass Lodge in nearby Marske-by-Sea.

David said, "We never eggspected anything like this. It’s been a cracking day from start to finish, and we’re thrilled to have poached the world record all the way from New York and brought it right here to Saltburn.”

Farmers’ Market organiser Lorna Jackson said: “We’ve had some amazing days at Saltburn Farmers’ Market, but this just tops the lot!

It was a tough record to break, but I knew we could bring it to Saltburn. We’ve had another really busy day, with shoppers cheering everyone taking part.

Hats off to each and every one of the Top Ten who had a go – and huge congratulations to Kevin.”

The record attempt was carried out with full approval from Guinness World Records. Full documentary evidence is now being prepared and will be forwarded to Guinness World Records during w/c 10 September, with full verification of the new World Record expected within the next six weeks.

Saltburn Farmers’ Market’s are second Saturday of the month on October 13, November 10 and December 8. Over 25 stalls include the Market’s popular mix of fresh seasonal locally produced fruit & veg, meat & game, cheese & wine, free-range eggs, plants & herbs, cakes & fudge, pottery, wool and artworks. Just outside Sainsbury’s, near Saltburn Railway Station. Starts 9am.

Additional Info:
Official timekeepers on the day were Phil Barker from Morpeth Harriers and Sid Rudd from Billingham Marsh House Harriers. Solicitors Giles Ward and Julian Gaskin were the independent witnesses; retired Chief Inspector Terry Stonehouse was the official log book writer, and professional photographer Colin Hurworth was on hand to provide more expert testimony.