Saltburn by the Sea has a rich and varied tapestry of historical development. Although Saltburn's most obvious features are of Victorian origin, its history goes back much further. There is evidence that it was inhabited by a hermit in the thirteenth century and even earlier, during Roman times, it was the site of a fortified Roman signalling station. Saltburn's more covert history lies in smuggling and the town is immensely proud of its famous smuggling past. The resort of Saltburn by the Sea was founded by the Victorian entrepreneur Henry Pease and the legacy of his vision is the Station complex, Zetland Hotel, Pier, Cliff Lift and Valley Gardens as well as the so called "jewel streets" along the sea front. Today Saltburn's Victorian heritage is brilliantly preserved whilst modern Saltburn presents an excellent surfing beach so that recent years have seen the development of a large community of surfers. The idea of taking a seaside holiday dates back to the 18th century when the health benefits of fresh air and sea water were first recognised. Initially these benefits were enjoyed only by those who had the time and private means to venture to the English coast in search of a holiday in a congenial setting beside the sea. However the enjoyment of relaxtion and recreation on the shore soon became popular among all social classes and this popularity went hand-in-hand with the invention and development of the seaside 'resort' as a place to seek out leisure and pleasure.
To satisfy demand resorts were developed around the coastline to suit a variety of budgets and tastes. Intended to lure those seeking health, leisure and pleasure experiences they were deliberately designed to make the 'resort experience'occassions that would be enjoyed and returned to yearly, making the seaside holiday integral to the British way of life and cultural experience. The practice of sea bathing dates back to the late 17th century with members of the medical profession already advocating its benefits as a cure for a variety of ailments. As the prestige of the medical profession rose, advice from such sources began to influence a significant minority of the educated and leisured and Sir John Floyer's History of Cold Bathing had reached its fifth edition by 1722. Promoted by the medical profession, the practice gained popularity as part of the growing fashionable concern for the pursuit of health, leisure and pleasure among the upper classes of 18th century English society. By 1705 Scarborough - which can probably claim to be the earliest English seaside resort - was said to attract most of the gentry from the North of England and Scotland in the summer season and by the 1730's Scarborough, Margate and Brighton, at least, were developing recognisable sea bathing seasons.
Saltburn by the Sea has maintained much of its original charm as a Victorian seaside resort including its pier, the colourful Italian Gardens and walks through Riftswood. Saltburn has the oldest water balanced cliff tramway in Britain that is still in operation, linking the town with the pier 120 feet below. You can park at sea level where the old fishing village straddles Skelton Beck. The Ship Inn remains as a focal point, steeped in smuggling folklore. The Cleveland Way passes through along the coastline and follows a steep path up to Huntcliff, once the site of a Roman Signal Station.