Sea Life, See Life: coastal heritage

Gareth Dockerty – Sea Life, See Life Project Coordinator

We’re currently running the ‘Sea Life, See Life’ project, which is funded through the Coastal Communities Fund. Our project includes a number of heritage restoration and cultural enhancement schemes in the village of Robin Hood’s Bay, working with the local community and Parish Council.


Victorian style metal lantern - Robin Hood's Bay. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project. Modern urban plastic lantern - Robin Hood's Bay. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.We’ve replaced eight street lanterns around the village, removing modern urban plastic lights for ‘Victorian style’ lanterns with modern LED down lighting to limit light pollution. The lantern pattern is unique to the village and is modelled on the original Victorian lantern at the old railway station. Where possible the existing wall brackets or fittings have been restored.

Standpipes and water fountains

We’ve also commissioned the replacement and renovation of some of the village’s other local gems from standpipes to water fountains. Up until the start of the 20th century water was collected daily from standpipes and water fountains located around the village. The project has funded the re-installation of a Victorian water fountain in an original location along with the refurbishment of standpipes and has erected small metal plaques that let visitors know about the heritage significance of such features.

The original fountain as it once stood was removed decades ago. The fountain nowReplacement fountain to be installed. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.The original water fountain in situ in Robin Hood's Bay. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project. installed is a genuine Victorian fountain similar to the original. Generously bought and renovated by a local resident it was installed in full working order by CCF funding and will be looked after by the Parish Council to ensure future generations get to admire it within the streetscape.

It is not the intention to preserve the village in the Victorian era; the style of the lanterns and the fountain and standpipes add to the visual character of the village which is valued by both locals and visitors.

RNLI donation fish

As previously reported on this Blog, Robin Hood’s Bay is the proud location of the oldest known RNLI donation box, in the form of an impressive cast iron cod fish. It has stood in the same place for over a century accepting donations, long after the lifeboat has gone. However, sea air and high tides mean it has needed maintenance a number of times over the past few decades. Our project has funded the complete restoration of the fish and associated plaques by a local business who specialise in oil rig and marine corrosion. The fish will once again stand as a testament to the bravery of the RNLI crews past and present, and to those in peril on the sea.

The RNLI donation recepticle in Robin Hood’s Bay has been proudly accepting donations for over a century. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.

Bank Top car park

The project has continued with the piscine theme at Bank Top car park. Anyone who knows Robin Hood’s Bay will be aware that the village contains a long steep bank from the top of the cliffs down to the shore.

The three carved fish posts to be installed at Bank Top car park. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.At the car park our dedicated National Park Coast Volunteers are preparing to install some bollards with a difference. The tired looking posts are being replaced by new locally sourced oak posts, including three carved cod fish, welcoming people to this historic fishing village and linking back to the RNLI fish down the hill.

Volunteers have also installed bike racks in the car park. The lack of suitable bike parking was a priority for the Parish Council.

Seawall Mosaic

The Sea wall today; a blank canvas ready for the new mosaic celebrating Robin Hood’s Bay. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.The current seawall is to be decorated. A 50 metre mosaic installation will hang along a section of the seawall to celebrate ‘the Bay’ through time from the dinosaurs through to the modern day. The mosaic will illustrate landslides and lost houses, smuggling around the wild North Sea, the arrival of the railway and the birth of the bucket and spade holiday destination.

Through suggestion boxes, online surveys and poetry the local community and visitors have shared what the village means to them and how it makes them feel, and what they feel are the most important themes from the past.
This sketch represents the tightknit community within the ‘higgledy-piggledy’ narrow streets and fisherman cottages as the harsh sea erodes the cliffs. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.

 One of the mosaic boards being made - this one illustrates the famous Victorian postcards. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.One of the mosaic boards being made - this one illustrates a Jurassic dinosaur footprint highlighting the regions rich fossil heritage. Image - Sea Life, See Life Project.

There will be over 50 boards in total and the finished artwork will be installed later this year.

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