The village of Ravenscar (originally called Peak until 1897) is situated 14 miles south of Whitby, off the A171 Scarborough Road. It is built on the cliffs of a particularly scenic part of the coastline, at the south end of a large sweeping bay. At the southern point, the tip of land is called Old Peak.
View of Ravenscar
Ravenscar was the site of the Alum quarries, which worked from 1640 to 1862 employing local labour. It was, in fact, the birthplace of the chemical industry in Britain, initiated by a Thomas Challoner. Alum was needed to ‘fix’ dye and was imported from Italy. When Henry VIII fell out with the Pope, the supplies of alum were interrupted.
Battlements at Raven Hall Hotel Ravenscar
Challoner discovered that the large amounts of shale from around this area could be processed by using large bonfires, seaweed and stale urine! In the about the 1850’s, it was found that alum could be obtained synthetically as a by product of town gasworks and the industry declined. There are still some remains of the alum works to be seen.
The Whitby to Scarborough Railway line passed through Ravenscar. The platform being opened in 1885 operated by the North Eastern Railway. This line proved popular with tourists along this stretch of coast. In the 1890’s a group of businessmen bought the entire area for £10,000 with the view to building a holiday resort to rival Scarborough. 300 men were employed to make the foundations, lay drains and build the roads of this dream resort.
VRaven Hall Gardens Ravenscar
Nowadays it is know as ‘The Town That Never Was’, the dream was never fulfilled. The height of the cliffs and the erosion made is impossible to access the beach safely. Steps were carved into the Cliffside but this was a difficult descent for the ladies of the time!
The Abandoned Peak Station Platform
The beach itself was not ‘golden sands’ but rather a combination of rock and rock pools. Plots of land were available and, indeed, some were sold and even the odd house built. It never took off and eventually the company went into liquidation in 1913. Loring Road near the old railway platform is signposted , Marine Esplanade and Station Road were named, drains and kerbs are visible but not that much remains today of this once planned rival resort.
Remains of Peak Railway Platform
Whitaker Brick Company was set up in 1900 near the railway line to produce ‘Ravenscar Bricks’ for the new town. As this did not become a reality, it still produced bricks including those for the Odeon Cinema in Scarborough. The chimneys for the brick works were finally demolished in 1960. The railway line unfortunately closed in 1965, another victim of the ‘Beeching Cuts’.
Raven Hall Hotel
Raven Hall was built on the cliffs on the site of an early 5th century Roman fort and beacon in 1774. Formerly known as Peak House it was built by Captain William Childs, a captain in the King's Regiment of the Light Dragoons. The house has had a chequered past including that of an asylum. Legend has it that King George III stayed here for a while. A Reverend Dr. Willis established the gardens and battlements, that still remaining today. The present day Raven Hall is now a hotel with a swimming pool and golf course.
Battlements at the Raven Hall Hotel
Its amazing views and settings, with gardens and battlements is a popular venue for weddings. Near the entrance of the Raven Hall Hotel is the National Trust Centre offering information on the surrounding area and various walks in and around Ravenscar. It is open from April to September. Ravenscar is on the Cleveland Way National Trail and is the eastern terminus of the Lyke Wake Walk. Try the 6 mile circular Ravenscar Trail which encompasses most of the aforementioned places of interest including a World War 2 radar bunker. Ravenscar is also on the National Cycle Trail.
Ravenscar has bed and breakfast establishments and self-catering accommodation. The Ravenscar Tearooms are situated in the Station Square near to the old railway platform, they are open Easter to mid October. Pesky Husky Trekking, Wellington Lodge Llama Trekking and the Staintondale Shire Horse Farm are approximately 2 miles away.
View from Ravenscar
On the outskirts of Ravenscar is the Smugglers Rock Country Guest House, formerly known as the Blue Robin Inn. In bygone years it was popular with the locals for spying, when evading the law by smuggling. It is said that there is a 600’ underground tunnel leading down to the cliffs. Opposite here is the old Windmill.
Ravenscar Village Church
There are public conveniences and free car parking along Raven Hall Road leading to the National Trust Office. The village church was built in 1852 and modernised in 2004. The Good Hope Chapel is situated at the Raven Hall Hotel.
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