Wilgilsland, the web site of Pete Crowther and Jan Crowther
Kilnsea is a small hamlet of approximately 280 hectares (700 acres). In 1988, to
protect the area from inappropriate development, from Long Bank to the tip of Spurn
Point was designated as the Spurn Heritage Coast. From the boundary with Long Bank
to Spurn gate is about two kilometres or just over one and a half miles. Kilnsea
has less than 30 households, a pub, (the Crown and Anchor), and an Information Centre/tea-shop
(the Blue Bell). Spurn Head (or Point), a long curving peninsula , has been owned
by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust since 1960. At the end of the Point is the base for
the Humber Lifeboat, run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The families
of the crew no longer live at the Point, having left in 2011, when the fragility
of the road meant that they could no longer travel there easily. Nor is it any longer
the base for the Humber Pilots, as they had to move over the river to work from a
base in Grimsby after the North Sea surge in December 2013. The VTS (Vessel Traffic
Service) which controls shipping entering and leaving the Humber, is no longer run
from the tower on the Point, by Associated British Ports (ABP). It has moved to Grimsby.
Where we live, at the northern end, Kilnsea is only three-quarters of a mile wide.
The peninsula further south narrows to a sandy spit only a few yards wide before
broadening out into a spoon-shaped Point. However, as a result of the North Sea surge
on 5th December 2013, a breach occurred in the peninsula, and the road at the northern
end was destroyed, so only official vehicles can now drive down.
About us. We moved to Kilnsea,in 2001, having been associated with the area since
the early 1980s.. Pete died on May 4th 2012, after he suffered a serious stroke in
November 2011. I believe he would want me to continue this web site, because we made
Pete .I was born in Hull into a seafaring family and was brought up in Beverley
in the East Riding of Yorkshire. After completing full-time education I spent two
happy years in the Royal Navy as a Coder Special when I learnt Russian at the Joint
Services School for Linguists at Crail, Fifeshire, and was later posted to Kiel in
Germany. After discharge I worked at the University of Birmingham as a cataloguer
(later chief cataloguer) and subsequently became chief cataloguer at Hull University.
I took early retirement and in 2001 we came to live at Kilnsea near Spurn Head where
we have enjoyed being just two fields away from the sea and within sight of the broad
I have been interested in Lepidoptera since the late 1980s and operate a garden moth
trap. My moth records include those from our previous Cottingham garden trap (1989
- 2002) as well as sporadic records from Tophill Low Nature Reserve over the same
period and occasional records from other sites in East Yorkshire particularly in
the Kilnsea and Spurn Head area. My present garden trap in Kilnsea has been run regularly
from 2001 to date (after Pete’s death Jan decided to continue it).
Since retiring I became interested in modern poetry, particularly the work of the
locally born (Easington) British and Canadian poet, Robin Skelton. I have also written
poetry myself (since 2002). Most of my poems are published on the website of Poem
Hunter. I have also included a selection of my poems on this site .
Other interests include motorcycling (owner of a Kawasaki ZRX 400), Egyptology, art,
photography, Asmara and the country of Eritrea, local history (especially early 19th-century,
thanks to my involvement with the diarist, Robert Sharp of South Cave), and religion/philosophy.
I have been a member of the World Pantheist Movement since 2000. My published works
include articles on natural history (especially moths and butterflies), bibliography,
and local history.
Jan.I was born in Smethwick, near Birmingham. My maiden name was Beal. I worked
at Birmingham University Library, where I met Pete. After our marriage we lived in
Bearwood, Smethwick, and had a son, William (Bill), and a daughter, Lorraine (Rainie).
Subsequently we moved to East Yorkshire, where I became a student at Hull University
studying history and gaining a Ph.D. I began teaching courses on the history of the
East Riding for Hull University and for the Workers' Educational Association, and
on the arts and family and community history for the Open University. I have written
books and articles on local history, on a variety of topics, including Victorian
Beverley, agricultural history, and aspects of the history of Spurn and Kilnsea.
When we moved to the coast I retired from teaching, but continued my research, which
in the last few years has concentrated upon Spurn and Kilnsea. My book on the area,
entitled The People Along the Sand: the Spurn peninsula and Kilnsea, a history, 1800
- 2000, was published by Phillimore and Co., Ltd. In 2006. It was a hardback publication
of 280 pages with 200 black and white and 32 colour photos. The ISBN number was 1-869-9.077-41.
It sold out and has now been republished with the ISBN number 978-1-86077-654-0 (cost
£18.99)http://phillimore.co.uk. It is available in the Spurn/Easington area or from
I have gathered an extensive collection of photographs, maps, tapes of interviews
and documents and continue to collect material both locally and via the internet.
I am always willing to share it. A local group, the Spurn, Kilnsea and Easington
Area Local Studies Group (SKEALS) has been formed to undertake further research.
Its web page may be accessed by clicking on its name above.
In my spare time I enjoy this unique area, walking our dog, Kelbi, and visiting our
little nature reserve, which is a two-acre paddock with a pond, excellent hedgerows
and an abundance of wild-life.
After Pete died I had no hesitation in staying in Kilnsea, where we have been so
happy, have so many good friends, and where I feel closest to him. My life is enhanced
by my wonderful grand-daughters, Ellie and Rosie-Mae.
Wilgils was a hermit, and the first known resident of a peninsula at the mouth of
the Humber, in the late 7th century.