Bridlington- Findings and Photos!

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Getting there…

Travelling from my daughters nursery in the taxi, we passed the former site of Willows House, family home of the Stephenson’s, and home to Robert during the Incident at Flamborough in 1868. The taxi followed Wincolmlee, weaving through the winding streets, passing the mills of years gone by before passing the location mentioned in The Custom’s House Records on Robert D’Onston Stephenson, affectionately termed “The High Flags” after the local mill and raised kerb stones.

Driving along Charles Street, we passed the location which was the birthplace of Robert D’Onston Stephenson, and now a communal office of sorts, before driving through the City Centre to Paragon Station.

After setting my wife and son to the bus, I headed off to buy a ticket and sit on the platform, awaiting my train, and even though I was hundreds of miles away from the East End of London, I was in my own little RipperLand. You see, the platform is overlooked by The Quality Royal Hotel,” once known as The Royal Station Hotel, and a place visited by no fewer then 4 previously named suspects in the Whitechapel Murders!

The train arrived as the wind and rain battered the railway station, and it’s doors flew open, allowing the waiting passengers respite from the weather.

As the train departed, it took us past the bottom of Arlington Street, former home of Richard Stephenson Snr, and his final home before his death in January 1889, next we passed the Spring Bank West General Cemetery, final resting place of the Dawber family, and Dr Kelburne King.

It’s weird to think that this man, although many miles away from Bridlington Quay, was despatched to take care of Robert D’Onston Stephenson. The big question remains, “Who sent him?” and we can only theorize that either it was the Stephenson family, the Dawber family, or HM Customs themselves.

On the train a lady looked at my notes and asked what I was researching, as I told her about the Stephenson family, and Jack the Ripper, she mentioned that “He should be killed!”

Puzzled I asked for her to explain why, and it was clear that she was discussing Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, not Jack the Ripper. It appears that wherever you go in Yorkshire, you will always meet someone who has a friend of a friend who worked the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, just as everyone has a theory on who Jack the Ripper was!


Arriving at Bridlington about an hour after departing Hull, I exited the train and made my way through the town to the sea front. The high buildings at this point provided shelter from the wind, but the rain was falling and it was quite cold. I pulled down my woolly hat, and pulled up my hood, and headed for the harbour.

I passed the location of the Library and Local Studies Centre, and even though it wouldn’t open for another 45 minutes, I knew where it was, and this would save me time later.

The little road down to the harbour was wet, and the stones where slippery underfoot, but I made it down in one piece, and was surprised to see the tide was high, and the harbour fuller than I had ever seen it.

I made my way along the harbour, taking photo’s and observing the fishermen prepare their boats, asking as I went along for a boat to take me to Flamborough Head, but the weather was against me, and no one would commit to taking me out, even the pleasure cruiser was locked down for the day!

I walked along the empty seafront, and passed several Victorian lamps and numerous memorials to lost fishermen. Heading along the harbour pier, I noticed a lone bunch of flowers attached to a lamp post. No card was attached, and their significance was lost, but it was quite a poignant moment.

After several minutes I headed back into Bridlington Quay, and made my way to a little café for breakfast and a warm drink, reading my timetable for the day and pouring over my maps. After a short while, and with ten minutes to kill, I headed for a local book shop and the tourist information centre.

Local Studies

At 9.30 I made my way to the Local Studies Centre, and climbed the three flights of stairs, reaching the top short of breath, I noticed the lift!

The Local Studies Centre is a small room, boxed on three sides by huge book cases, and a selection of tall bookcases stand in the centre of the room, in the centre of the room stands a small table, with four chairs. Even though the room was so tiny, the collection was huge, with a massive selection on Hull related books, and trade directories that we don’t have in our local collection! I also noticed a selection of books on local folklore, and the paranormal, alongside a huge collection of material on the sinking of an American Battleship at Flamborough!

I got down to work and found,

Several New Trade Directory Entries for the Stephenson’s

Several New Trade Directory Entries for the Dawber’s

Several New Trade Directory Entries for the Dawber family business featuring full page advertisements from 1895, 1897, 1899, and 1901!

Several New Trade Directory Entries for the Black Lion Hotel.

A half page Advertisement for the Black Lion Hotel circa 1888.

Several newspaper entries for the East Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers, and their meetings at the Black Lion Hotel.

Several Newspaper entries for the meetings by Methodists, and Primitive Methodists in the hamlet of Bridlington, just moments away from The Black Lion Hotel.

After several hours, I left the Local Studies Library and headed to find a bus that would take me to Flamborough, but after some time waiting I was informed the next bus was an hour away. I took this opportunity to sample the local Fish and Chips, and walked back around the sea front, noting how quite it was, despite the weather looking a little better.


After an hour I headed to the Bridlington Bus Station, and noticed that the buses where every two hours, thus meaning, if I make it Flamborough, I have to sit and wait for the next bus back, which would be two hours later! Having been to Flamborough many years ago, and seeing that there isn’t much around, I decided against this, but will return in the future.

I decided at this point, it would be better to travel up to the Black Lion Hotel, and left Bridlington Quay. The road from Bridlington Quay to the old town of Bridlington was about a mile and half, and took about 20 minutes to walk up, what I did notice, was that most of the way it was uphill, only slightly, but nevertheless, it affected me, and I was quickly becoming tired. I also noticed the large amount of Pubs, Inns and Hotels along the road up, and wondered why Robert D’Onston Stephenson didn’t stay closer to Bridlington Quay!

What was the reason for Stephenson staying at this hotel?

Eventually I passed St John’s Avenue, where Dr Brett once resided with his family, the street still has a lot of Victorian properties and is tree lined and quite luxurious. Next up I crossed Brett Street, named after Dr Brett, which is a more modern street, lined by neat town houses either side.

What I did notice whilst walking up to the High Street, was the large number of religious buildings. Between Bridlington Quay and High Street I counted 8 churches, 6 of these within 5 minutes of The Black Lion Hotel!

High Street

Next I reached High Street, and turned left into a time warp. It appears untouched, apart from the cars, and road, and there is a wonderful collection of 17th, 18th, and 19th, Century properties adorning both sides of the street. Many of these have been turned into little shops, cafes and galleries. I noticed an antique watch shop, and chuckled at the thought of finding a watch inscribed with Stephenson’s name!

Further along I noticed another antique shop, this one with several Victorian beer bottles in the window, but nine for the Black Lion!

I also noticed that several pubs and hotels lined the street, one of which, The Victoria, was a huge three story property, and in a prominent position in the street. Finally, as I rounded the bend in the road, I saw the Black Lion Hotel. The pub, still with it’s yellow paint stands on the brow of a hill, nestled among the other properties, and it could be driven by, if one didn’t know where it was.

The Black Lion Hotel

Heading through the double, double doors, I reached two doors, one leading left, and one leading right, I chose the left, and entered a cosy bar, with exposed wooden floorboards, a log fire, and exposed brick and timber adorning the walls. I introduced myself to the Bar Manager, and passed over my research, to which I was given a free drink, whilst the manager and several locals read through the piece.

One of the men told me about the inn, and what had gone on there in the past, tales of smuggling and illegal gambling, and even the possibility of people trafficking and slavery back in the mid 1800’s!

The cross roads opposite the Hotel also had a unique story. Cross Hill obtained the name as Witches where hung from here, some attached to crucifix’s, but wether this is folklore or actual fact remains to be seen.

The Hotel consists of three bars, all with wooden flooring, exposed brick and vintage green tiles behind the bar, and seemed to be stuck in the Victorian period, not that this was a bad thing, I actually found it to be a lovely, warm welcoming pub, although it was weird sat in the spot, drinking lemonade, knowing Stephenson was here all those years earlier!

As I left the hotel, I made my way back along the High Street and headed for the railway station. I was tired out, and ready for home, but excited at what I had found. The problem is, it still raises more questions.

Why was a member of the HM Customs staying at a hotel associated with smuggling?

Why was Robert D’Onston Stephenson staying at a hotel that was quite a distance from Bridlington Quay? Especially as there were hotels closer!

Why was the barrow belonging to the Black Lions Landlord at Flamborough, a location associated with not only fishing but smuggling?

Why not take the barrow to Bridlington Quay, which is much closer?

Why did Kelburne King get sent to Bridlington?

Who Sent Kelburne King to Bridlington?

Why wasn’t the local Doctors and Surgeons trusted?

Did the friend that Shot Robert D’Onston Stephenson have ulterior motives?

Finally, a suggestion put forth by a local had me quite interested, he explained,

The Black Lion was known as a smugglers haunt, is it possible your Hull Man, a man of the HM Customs was sent here to keep an eye on things? Is this why the barrow was at Flamborough, and is this why the HM Customs sent Kelburne King, instead of trusting the locals?”

Anyone wishing to see the photo’s of the day, can view them here,

9 Responses to “Bridlington- Findings and Photos!”

  1. admin Says:

    A massive thank you to…

    Bridlington Local Studies,
    Bridlington Tourist Information,
    Bridlington Bus Services,
    Bridlington Railway Station Staff,
    The staff at the shops and cafes that I had the pleasure of visiting,
    And the staff and customers of the Black Lion Public House.

    Everyone was really nice and helpful, and it was a pleasure dealing with such warm, friendly people.


    Many thanks for some interesting reading about Bridlington. The part in which I was most interested was regarding the bus services in that era. Question - was the White Bus Service running from Queen Street and Williamsons from Chapel Stree in those days? At present, in my research, I need to know as much about the Bridlingto buses. Can you help any further? Tim

  3. windows hertfordshire Says:

    Discovered your page on msn. Good information, astonished how much I don’t know. Will take note of this site to stay updated. Good luck. Jon

  4. Helen Says:

    Interesting reading for me as my family history research involves the Black Lion. William S Clarke and his family were at the Black Lion in the 1880’s, his dau Elizabeth when widowed moved back to the pub with her young family. She later became the publican as I understand it. One of her dau’s married George Major Lowish of Bartindale Farm, Bridlington. Would it be okay if I copy parts of your blogg to add to the family files and of course I would be referencing it all to you. Thank you so much for such an interesting article. Cheers from New Zealand.

  5. Timber Windows Says:

    Excited to know so many things on Bridlington especially the bus service . Bridlington Tourist Information is also very updated and more willing to know on the white bus services on the are you defined.

  6. David Gladwin Says:

    I have a White Bus Services timetable covering the Bridlington-Flamborough route (Lighthouse - North Landing) via Sewerby dated Sunday May 25th to Saturday 27th September 1952. We were hiking in the area and took the bus. Any help?

  7. witryny Says:

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  8. Cathy Goldthorpe Says:

    Following through my family history has proved there was a very close interwoven family connection between members of the Bridlington community involved in horse and motor transport. The Williamson and the Wilson families (Wilson and Hughes; The White Bus service) were very closely related over 3 generations. Members of both families also married into other families connected with hackney carriages, carting, donkeys or livery stables. The Knaggs, the Lamploughs, the Boddys and Stablers all became family members of this close circle with the Pant and Dove families added with their interest in carting. Whether they were empire builders or whether they lived in a close community is open to conjecture.
    John Williamson the founder of the Williamson bus service married Hannah Wilson. Their son Tom Williamson married his cousin Emily Wilson whose brother Alfred, a general dealer, had hackney carriages and was noted for his smart turn-out. His son John Wilson founded Wilson and Hughes with his brother-in-law providing the Hughes interest. John Wilson’s brother Edward was married to Reuben Williamson’s son Arthur. Clearly between these two families alone was an intricate network of family connections.

  9. admin Says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys, I wish you all the best in your own research trips.

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