A short history of
Filey's name suggests
that it is Anglian in origin. If this is correct then it
confirms that there has been a
community here for more than twelve
The Romans knew this part
of the coast and in the late fourth century they built on Carr Naze, a
signal station where soldiers watched for Saxon raiders. The
station was excavated in 1857 when base stones were found and are now
displayed in the crescent Gardens in Filey. The York
Archaeological Trust in conjunction with English Heritage carried
out more extensive excavations in October 1993 under Dr Patrick Ottoway.
For most to its history
Filey was a farming and fishing village with a few hundred inhabitants
who lived in, or close to the street we now know as Queen Street.
Ecclesiastical records indicate that as early as the twelfth century,
Filey men were fishing as far away as Whitby and Grimsby; we know this
from a dispute about tithes which eventually had to be referred to the
Filey remained as small
and remote village until the late eighteenth century when visitors to
Scarborough who want a degree of quiet and solitude not to be found
there (and this is till the case) would come to Filey to walk on the
beach. Some would stay in local homes and in the early nineteenth
century Foords Hotel in Queen Street was opened as the first
establishment to be built with visitors in mind.
A most significant stage
in Filey's development took place in 1835 when John Wilkes Unett, a
Birmingham solicitor, having purchased several acres of land, engaged an
architect to prepare plans for what was to become The Crescent. It
is fortunate the he was a man of vision who was determined that the
result would be worthy of the site, for today we have one of the
finest terraces of domestic buildings in England.
The Crescent (later The
Royal Crescent) Hotel opened in the 1850's and was for a hundred years
one of the most fashionable addresses in the North of England.
New Filey and Old Filey
continued into the twentieth century to maintain their separate
identities; and indication of this is that the old Filonians can
remember when Queen Street had more than thirty shops which met almost
all of the needs of the residents of Old Filey.
An interesting but brief
episode in Filey's story took place between 1910 and 1912 when the Filey
Flying School was established on the cliffs between Primrose Valley
and Hunmanby Gap. Filonians watched with interest some of the
early aeroplanes taking off from the beach and flying around the Bay.
For more than forty years
Butlin's Holiday Camp was a major factor in Filey's economy.
building work began in 1939 and continued throughout the war during
which it became a military establishment known as R A F Hunmanby Moor.
In 1945 it became a very popular holiday centre, complete with its own
Railway Station, and by the late 1950's could accommodate 10,000 holiday
makers. Its closure in 1984 was very much regretted.
Between the wars, Filey
would be thronged with visitors in the Seasons, most of whom would be
staying in its many hotels. boarding-houses and private homes. In
recent times, the pattern and requirements of the holiday makers has
changed and the town looks to accommodating these changes and looking to
the high quality niche tourism market. Filey has a rich heritage
and its maritime heritage is recognised internationally, because
of this the Filey Bay Bonhomme Richard Group has implemented the
Filey John Paul Jones Heritage Coast and other ventures.
Though Filey had much
changed in recent years, it retains many of its features which made it
so popular in Victorian and Edwardian days, what is equally important
for its residents , there still remains a strong and valued sense of
We thank the Filey Town Guide Committee for
the use of their material in this page.
To get a copy of the Filey Town Guide, contact:
Filey Town Council, Council Offices,
52A Queen Street, Filey,
North Yorkshire. YO14 9HE. Tel: 01723 514498.
or - email enquiries to