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Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a child of the Stockton & Darlington Railway: a well-planned resort which has retained a stately Victorian character, unlike nearby Redcar which fell victim to its own popularity. What drew the railway to Saltburn in the first place was ironstone, mined nearby to feed the furnaces of Middlesbrough. The development of a new town on the cliff top above the old fishing village was the brainchild of Henry Pease, a leading figure in the S&D, who founded the Saltburn Improvement Company in partnership with other S&D luminaries. The town was laid out according to a competition-winning plan by George Dickenson, a Darlington surveyor, but a variety of people designed the individual buildings, of which the two key ones are Saltburn Station and the Zetland Hotel, both by William Peachey.

The railway opened for business on Monday 19 August 1861, having enjoyed a formal opening two days before, but was served at first by a platform adjoining the earliest houses to be built in the new town: a terrace of railway dwellings designed by Peachey and known, appropriately, as Alpha Place. Two of these were adapted for passengers: No. 1 having the booking office in its front room and No. 2 housing a waiting room and refreshment rooms. Peachey's permanent station proved well worth the wait, a handsome Italianate building which forms an eye-catcher at the head of one of the main streets, while the Zetland Hotel, formally opened on 27 July 1863, also makes good use of its site at the top of a scarp, with fine views along the coast. The station platform extended up to the rear of the hotel.

Excursion traffic built up rapidly, and in 1870 a separate Saltburn Excursion Station was provided. This used the old platform at Alpha Place, lengthened and equipped with a waiting shed and toilets to Peachey's design. He also, in partnership with the S&D/NER Darlington Section Engineer, William Cudworth, produced a handsome gothic water tower, serving both railway and town.

The town's railway network was augmented in 1875 by the opening of an extension to Loftus, which took off well short of the terminus. This and traffic growth led the NER to extend the main station platform and provide additional west-end bays, sheltered by a pair of spacious verandahs built in 1899. That covering has now gone but today all trains are handled at the west end.. This made the original trainshed redundant and it has been demolished, but the remainder of the 1862 station has been carefully restored and now houses shops, while the Zetland Hotel has been converted to apartments.

Peachey's water tower and Alpha Place both disappeared in the early twentieth century, the former for a housing development and the latter for a road improvement.


Chris Scott Wilson, The History of Saltburn, Seaside Books, 1983.

J.R. Harrison & A. Harrison, Saltburn-by-the-Sea: The Early Years of a Stockton & Darlington Railway Company Venture, Industrial Archaeology Review vol. IV No. 2, 1980.

Bill Fawcett, A History of North Eastern Railway Architecture vol. 2: A Mature Art, North Eastern Railway Association, 2003.

Minutes of the Saltburn Improvement Company are held by Cleveland Archives. In 1880 the newly-formed Local Board of Health took over its regulatory functions while soon after the Saltburn Estate was taken over by the Owners of the Middlesbrough Estate, by then made up solely of members of the Pease family.






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© W. Fawcett, 2011