Blue Bells and Beacons: a Spurn A–Z
One of the bungalows built in 1953 for the men who looked after the new anti-aircraft guns which were established at the Warren during the Cold War. After they left c.1956 it remained empty until Spurn was bought in 1959/60 by the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust, later the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The first warden, Peter Mountford, lived there in 1960/1. Spurn Bird Observatory (SBO) took it over as an extension of its accommodation c.1963.
A line of posts erected in the Humber near the old Lifeboat Inn in 1951/2 during the Cold War. At the further end was the Gazebo, a platform on which were erected navigation lights. The boom was removed in 1967 but the Gazebo, which contained tide gauges, remained until 1990. The Gazebo was often mentioned in SBO reports as a favoured resting/roosting place for ‘shagorants’ [shags/cormorants].
Appletree Cottage (Mick’s Place)
Built in the 1930s, this was a wooden bungalow surrounded by a small orchard. In the 1970s the owner wanted to build a brick bungalow to replace it, but apparently he made the mistake of pulling down the whole building without leaving a wall standing; as a result was refused permission for the erection of a replacement brick building. A caravan replaced the wooden building until the mid-1990s, when a wooden bungalow was erected there after a fire.
Barry Spence’s Bungalow
Another bungalow built at the same time as the Annexe and for the same purpose. When Barry Spence came to Spurn as warden in 1964, part of this bungalow was used as a rest room for Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust members until 1971, and he and his family occupied the rest.
Barry Waller’s place see Sunnycliff
When there was a threat of invasion by the Spanish in 1588 a line of beacons was erected along the coast to warn the inhabitants that the Spanish fleet was off-shore. Kilnsea had three beacons. During the Napoleonic Wars (1794–1815) the threat was from the French, and beacons were again erected and manned for the duration. Kilnsea Church, which had provided mariners entering the Humber with a useful navigational point, fell over the cliff between 1826 and 1831. In 1840 Trinity House decided to erect a 67-foot high navigational beacon at Kilnsea to act as a reference point in the place of the church. They put it in the pasture fields to the east of Long Bank. In 1848 this beacon was threatened by erosion, and was moved 500 yards north and a little inland. In 1895 it was again threatened by the sea and a new taller beacon was built further west. That one lasted until 1940, when it was removed lest it prove too useful to enemy aircraft. The site of the beacon is now lost to the sea but would have been about level with Firtholme Farm.
The field to the east of the Sound Mirror and south of Beacon Ponds. Bought by the South Holderness Countryside Society in 2000.
Beacon Lagoons Nature Reserve
Until the 1960s the area between Long Bank and the sea was good pasture land. In the late 1970s when Long Bank was raised to prevent inland flooding a ‘borrow pit’, which was called Beacon Pond, was created. Occasionally the sea flooded the area north and south of this pond, and the fields became increasingly marshy with several brackish areas. Between 1989 and 1991 the South Holderness Countryside Society bought land here, and in 1992, having leased some more from the National Rivers Authority (NRA), now the Environment Agency, they opened Beacon Lagoons Nature Reserve. Banks were constructed and sluices were used to control water levels. Two hides were built, the northern one being constructed by the NRA. Unfortunately in 1993 the sea flooded the area and the NRA hide had to be removed. Since then more flooding has taken place and the area is covered by one large body of brackish water.
Official name is North Marsh Lane/Road. Has been called Beacon Lane by birders for many years (earliest known reference in 1950s) because it leads to the Beacon Area.
Beacon Pond(s) see Beacon Lagoons Nature Reserve
Until the inundation by sea water from the late 1980s this was a large mature hawthorn hedge on the north side of Clubley’s Field. A new hedge was planted here by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project in 1993.
Located on the Narrows near Pole 26. This was a wooden hut which was used by the men working on the groynes to store tools. Demolished in 1991.
Blackmere Pond see Pancho Pond
Blackmoor/Blackmere Farm, Easington Road, Kilnsea, was established in the mid-19th century as a smallholding. In the 1980s it was the ‘World of Wings’, where birds of prey were reared and trained. ‘World of Wings’ had left by 1986 and the Metcalfes moved in, running a café there. The building was badly damaged by fire in 1990 and demolished. The Riverside Hotel was built on the site 1991.
A former army building in the Compound just south of the Warren. In 1995 it was on the edge of the shore and was demolished soon after.
Blue Bell (not Bluebell!)
The Blue Bell public house was built in 1847, one of the first buildings to be erected in new Kilnsea. When the army was at Godwin Battery (later Sandy Beaches Caravan Site) it was the pub most used by the military. About 1956 it became a café and shop. In 1993 the building was bought by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and leased to Holderness Borough Council. The house was renovated and a café and display area, and an office for the Spurn Heritage Coast Project, were created on the ground floor, with a flat on the first floor. It was opened in 1994. A new car park was built nearby.
Blue Bell Cottage
The house next door to the Blue Bell public house. In the 1950s Group Captain Smyth-Piggott lived there and was visited regularly by Observatory people staying at Warren Cottage.
Blue Bell Pond
A pond in the field east of the Blue Bell, attracting a wide variety of waders. Unfortunately in 1974 land drains were put in the field and Blue Bell Pond disappeared.
Boulder Clay Bank
In 1981/2 a new clay bank was erected alongside Clubley’s Field as a result of an agreement to use the spoil from excavations at Easington carried out for British Petroleum (BP). The bank was also extended south as far as the concrete sea wall near Black Hut. By 1994 the erosion of the cliff had taken most of it away.
Now a listed building. One of the two Humber forts (the other on the opposite bank is Haile Sands Fort), built during World War I to guard the entrance to the Humber. It was not operational until 1919, but was fully manned during World War II. After the war it was still occupied by a skeleton staff until the mid-fifties. In 1956 both forts were handed over into the care of the Humber Conservancy Board by the Ministry of Defence. In 1964 the Board became the outright owner when it purchased both forts from the Ministry. The Board itself was amalgamated into Associated British Ports (ABP) in 1969. Weather-monitoring devices and navigational aids were installed on the forts, but by 1991 their usefulness in this respect had been superseded and they were put up for auction. They were bought for £37,000 by a ‘mystery buyer’, which turned out to be an American firm registered in Liechtenstein. There was talk of Bull Fort being modernized and used as a venue for a night club, but apparently the plan was to sell bottled water from the underlying spring as a novelty item. Unsurprisingly this venture failed. In 1997 both forts were auctioned again. Haile Sands Fort was sold as a private sea-fishing base and Bull Fort was sold for £21,000 to an Essex-based charity called Streetwise. The plan was to convert it to a drug-users’ rehabilitation unit. The new owners said that £800,000 would be needed to convert the fort into a unit treating 150 patients at a time in 30-day spells. There have been no further developments.
The first Bull lightship was moored due south of Spurn at the south-eastern extremity of Bull Sand in 1833.
Before the floods of 1953 there was no ‘canal’ as such, though there was a dyke alongside the Humber bank. After the floods, when the Humber had inundated the Triangle, a bank was raised to protect the land and the ‘canal’ was created in 1954.
First excavated in 1982 as a ‘duck-shooting pond’ by a local landowner. In 1989, after the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust became the owners of this area, a large pond, Canal Scrape, was formed and the spoil was used to form a screening bank between it and the car park which was made at the same time.
Canal Scrape Hide
Erected in 1989 to overlook the scrape by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project, with a grant made from the James Reckitt Trust to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
The area bordering the Canal, named after the Canal Zone around the Suez Canal. The term was very common because of the Suez Crisis which took place in 1956.
The field north of Canal Scrape car park in the Triangle alongside the road to the Warren. So-called because in the 1940s and the early 1950s Ted Sharp of Southfield Farm permitted several caravans to be kept there for holiday-makers. One of them was owned by Henry Bunce, a well-known ornithologist, and at that time a regular visitor to Spurn. Henry’s caravan was washed away by the 1953 floods. Caravan Field is now generally called Walker Butts.
Before the railway was built in World War I the only way to get to Spurn Point was along the ridge of sand. People travelling by horse and cart found it most convenient to leave the track near Warren Cottage and go down onto the Humber beach (which was much sandier in those days) and follow the shoreline until they reached a gap that had been constructed in the protective chalk embankment to allow access to the main ridge of the peninsula. This gap was known as Cart Gap and the line of stakes to hold back the chalk can still be seen between Poles 45 and 46.
There are or were two chalk banks. The first one, bordering the Humber, was erected in the early 1860s when there was a breach in the peninsula at that point. On the Humber beach the chalk remains of this bank can still be seen, and the bulge in that part of the peninsula reflects its route. It soon became eroded, however, and the second bank, which was more effective, was erected in 1870 and is still visible. The term ‘Chalk Bank’ when used traditionally refers to the land from the southern edge of the bushes in the Sheep Field northwards far as the fence.
Chalk Bank Hide
Erected in 1990 by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project, it overlooks the wader roost north of Chalk Bank.
A small cottage next to Pancho Pond. It is partly made of corrugated iron and was built in 1885 as a Primitive Methodist ‘iron chapel’. From the early 20th century until 2001 it was called Hodge Villa, after Henry Hodge, a Hull industrialist and benefactor, who was born in Kilnsea and was responsible for its erection.
St. Helen’s Church was built in 1865 to replace Kilnsea’s mediaeval church of the same name, which fell over the cliff between 1826 and 1831. The new church was designed by the famous Victorian architect, William Burges. It incorporated stone from the old church in its foundations, as well as in the buttresses and the coping. By the 1990s the congregation had dwindled to only two worshippers. The last regular service was held in July 1993, and the church was put on the market, being eventually sold in 1999 for conversion to a residence.
The field at the back and to the eastern side of the Church. It was bought by SBO in 1999.
Built c.1850 after the enclosure of the village of Kilnsea, when the open fields were re-allocated into the rectangular blocks we know today. From the 1870s until the 1970s the Clubley family farmed here.
This is Southfield Farm, but often called Clubley’s Farm in SBO reports from the 1980s because Arthur and Nellie Clubley lived there at that time.
The field just to the north of Warren Cottage. Has been called Clubley’s Field since the 1950s after Redvers Clubley who farmed it. In 1992 the field was placed under the Countryside Commission’s Stewardship Scheme and returned to permanent pasture. The gates and stiles were erected by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project. A series of three scrapes, now called Clubley’s Scrape, was made at the same time.
After the Navy left the Port War Signal Station near Horseshoe Bungalow soon after World War II, the coastguards moved in and used it until 1964, when they re-located to a new station on Sandy Beaches Caravan Site. In 1974/5 they moved back to Spurn and occupied one floor of the new Tower on the Point (see Pilots’ Tower) with the pilots, before moving to Bridlington in 1989. The coastguard tower on Sandy Beaches Caravan Site was demolished in 1995 just before it would have fallen over the cliff.
When new anti-aircraft guns were installed at the Warren in the early 1950s they, and some other buildings near-by, including the Blockhouse, were enclosed by an eight-foot fence. The area within the fence was called the Compound by SBO. Though the fence was removed by the early 1970s the name remained. Now it has been almost entirely taken by the sea.
Crown and Anchor
This pub was built c.1853, and at that date was one of two public houses in Kilnsea (the other was the Blue Bell). It was run by Ma Robinson and her daughter, Pat Stevenson, from 1952 until 1986, when it was bought by the Wilkin family, who managed it until 1999. Closed for almost a year between 1999 and 2000, it is now in the capable hands of Jean Bunker.
Cuddy’s Castle see Narrows Look-out Point
The southern half of one of the former army buildings at the Warren, used for a time as a field station by Leeds University when it was known as the Leeds Lab, and now part of SBO’s accommodation.
The ‘new’ cemetery down Humber Side Lane.
The large lagoon near the sea-shore north of Beacon Ponds and east of Long Bank.
First Passing Bay
Now on the beach, this was the first passing bay on the concrete road just past the Warren. In 2002 it was visible on the beach, with about 100 yards of the concrete road, near Pole 19, when the beach was stripped for a short time.
Firtholme (Lounts’ Farm)
This farm is situated on the eastern side of the road between Kilnsea and Easington. The farm, including its land and buildings, was very badly flooded in the floods of 1906 and 1953.
The field owned by Barry Waller alongside Sunnycliff. Previously known as Football Field because of its flatness and suitability for the game.
When it was built in the 1920s this wooden bungalow was called ‘Gwendene’. Carrie Leonard and her mother ran a café here from 1925 until 1954. The café was much used by the soldiers stationed at Kilnsea and Spurn, and by ornithologists staying at Warren Cottage.
The entrance to the peninsula. When the army occupied Spurn this was one of the first guarded points. When the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust bought Spurn a small hut was placed here for the ‘gate man’ who collected the car money. Between 1960 and 1974 Redvers Clubley assisted the Warden as part-time gateman in the summer months.
Gazebo see Anti-submarine Boom
The battery and fort built at Kilnsea just north of the Blue Bell in World War I. Connected with Spurn Fort by a railway line. In 1961 it was bought by a Mr. Burgess and converted to Sandy Beaches Caravan Site.
Grange Farm (Kilnsea Grange)
The northernmost farm in Kilnsea, built in the 1850s, and at that time the largest farm in the village, with 218 acres of land. From c.1909 until the 1950s it was owned and farmed by the Tennison family.
A channel in the Humber near Old Den.
A green navigational beacon placed at the tip of the Point in 1975.
There are still a few left on the Point, most notably those on the path to the Green Beacon, which are emplacements built in World War II to accommodate twin six-pounder guns, with magazines behind and between. During World War I, four 4.7 inch guns were on or near this site. The two 9.2 inch gun emplacements on Godwin Battery fell over the cliff in the 1990s and now rest on the beach.
A trap was erected south-east of Warren Cottage in 1945, and one still remains on that site. A trap was erected in 1949 in the Point dunes and taken down in 1950 when it was moved to Wire Dump, because the army bulldozed the Point in front of the Gun Emplacements to improve the sight lines. In 1951 a double-ended trap was built in the Chalk Bank area, but it was abandoned in 1972. In 1956 Chalk Bank East trap was erected in the dunes on the seaward side, but it was washed away in 1963, when the sea came over there. In 1960 a trap was built at the rear of what was to become the Pilots’ Tower on the Point, and was removed in 1978. In 1966 the Hollow Trap on the Point was built.
An old name for the highest part of the Narrows, approximately from Pole 29 to Pole 35. Bents is another name for marram grass.
Hodge Villa see Chapel Cottage
A wooden bungalow built on the peninsula near the Port War Signal Station, possibly in World War I, when it may have been used as officers’ quarters. In the interwar period it was lived in by the Fewster family, and during World War II was again taken over by the military. In 1978 the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust acquired the bungalow and used it for a summer warden’s residence for a year or two. After that it was rented to Cyd and Win Barker. They left in 1995 and it was demolished soon afterwards. The site stands between Poles 67 and 68.
House Trap (Warren)
A trap constructed in 1974 on the flat compound to the south-east of the Annexe and taken down in 1994.
The first manned lightship in the Humber was moored near the entrance to the river in 1820.
Humber Side Lane, Easington
The lane from Easington to the Humber. Humber Side Lane Car Park was made by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project to allow easy access to the bushes near the Riding School Fields and Sammy’s Point.
Information Centre and Shop
Established by the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust in an old army building at the Warren and opened Easter 1974. Officially opened by Colonel Reckitt in May 1975.
Just south of First Passing Bay near Pole 24 was a military fence and a gate. Demolished in the 1970s. In 1988 there was much damage here when dunes were washed away and a new portion of the road was built.
In 1989, Jack Essex, a lifeboat man, established a café in a caravan near the lifeboat cottages. In 1992 the caravan was totally wrecked because a car went out of control, when the driver attempted to avoid a fox (or a deer or a rabbit!), and ended up on the roof. Jack resumed business with a new caravan. When he retired in 1996 he sold the business to Dave and Karen Steenvoordern who renamed it Spurn Bite.
A wooden bungalow between the Church and the Crown and Anchor. Originally called Sweetbriar Cottage and built as a retirement home for the landlord of the Crown and Anchor in the early 20th century. In 1998 it was bought by SBO for their warden’s residence with a legacy from John Weston. There is a Caravan Club site in the field at the rear.
Kilnsea Camp see Godwin Battery and Sandy Beaches Caravan Site
The land on which the old Kilnsea village was established was quite high. What remains of the high ground can be seen just to the north of the road to the sea.
Kilnsea Grange see Grange Farm
Kilnsea Sea Wall
Built in 1951/2 from Kilnsea camp to Big Hedge, this sea wall was called the ‘Promenade’ by visitors. By the 1970s at high tides the sea was coming over the top and washing land out from behind. It was completely broken up and can now be seen laying on the sands about 100 yards out.
The first lifeboat cottages (ten in number) were built in 1819 on the site sometimes known as the ‘Old Inn’ (Lifeboat Inn) near Pole 68. In 1858 ten new cottages were erected a little further south west on the site of the present Point Car Park. These lasted until 1975/6 when the third series of lifeboat cottages, seven in number, were built a little further down the Point near the Parade Ground.
A new Lifeboat House was built in 1923 to replace one erected in 1914. It was used for the lifeboat, which by this time was motorized, until 1977 after which the lifeboat was kept afloat. Both the slipway and the lifeboat house were demolished in 1995.
Lifeboat Inn (‘Old Inn’)
On the Humber side near Pole 68. When the row of lifeboat cottages became vacant in 1859, the largest cottage on the Humber side became the Spurn pub, the Lifeboat Inn. The pub had formerly been in the coxswain’s house a little to the south-west before it was washed away by the sea. The Lifeboat Inn carried on until the First World War, and possibly throughout the war years, but was certainly shut down by 1920. During World War II this building and its neighbours were used for army personnel and their families. From the mid-1960s they were used as a field centre by Hull University. Demolished in 1978.
The present lighthouse was built in 1895 to replace Smeaton’s lighthouse which had become unstable. The new lighthouse showed lights at several levels making the Low Lighthouse redundant. The lighthouse had three keepers who lived in the houses in the compound of the old lighthouse. The lights were oil-burning until 1941, when they were replaced by electric lamps, though during the war the lighthouse was used only in special circumstances when convoys of ‘friendly’ ships were expected. In 1956 the electric light was replaced by an acetylene lighting apparatus of the same candlepower, and was made fully automatic in January 1957 when a part-time lighthouse keeper took over. By the 1980s, advances in electronic navigational equipment, particularly advanced radar technology, had made many lighthouses unnecessary, and on the night of 31st October, 1985, Spurn lighthouse was lit for the last time.
Smeaton’s lighthouse, built 1776, was surrounded by a circular wall. Within the wall were houses for the lighthouse keepers. When the lighthouse was demolished in 1895 the houses remained and were still used for the lighthouse keepers until 1957 when the light became automatic. During the 1960s and 1970s Hull College of Higher Education used them as a field centre. After the College moved out, the wall was damaged by the sea, and in 1985 the buildings and most of the wall were demolished.
The hedge to the north of Canal Scrape. A bomb dropped here during World War II.
Now a modern bungalow, it was once an attractive old farmhouse north of Long Bank, with a pond nearby. A right of way from the road to Humber Side Lane goes alongside it.
A sinuous bank and dyke which formed the ancient boundary between Easington and Kilnsea. Its winding nature suggests that it began as a stream and in ancient times there was certainly a valley in this area. Over the years Long Bank has been raised because of the dangers of flooding. The most serious floods took place in 1906 and 1953. The eastern section of Long Bank was washed away in 1953 and a new section replaced it to the west. This runs along the side of Beacon Ponds.
Long Bank Marshes
In 1997 Associated British Ports (ABP) bought three fields south of Long Bank as part of mitigation exercise for port developments elsewhere on the Humber. The fields were leased to English Nature who removed the land drains from the largest field allowing it to become seasonally inundated and provide good wildlife habitat. Prior to being named Long Bank Marshes the fields were known as the ABP Fields.
Long Bank Path
Created in 1992 to allow walkers to go from the Humber to the sea.
Lounts’ Farm see Firtholme
Built in 1852 on the Humber foreshore, this lighthouse became redundant when the 1895 (present) lighthouse was built. It was used as an explosives store, and a water tank was placed on the top in the early 20th century to supply the lifeboat houses.
A cottage at the end of Marsh Lane, Easington, the lane that goes westwards from Humber Side Lane, Easington.
Mick’s Place see Appletree Cottage
Between Pole 43 and Pole 44. This was a check-point manned by army personnel. There is still part of a concrete wall in the area.
Situated on higher ground to the north of Appletree Cottage. Named after an officer stationed at Godwin Battery, this is a former infantry redoubt connected to Godwin Battery by a tunnel under Beacon Lane.
(The) Narrows (Narrow Neck)
Traditionally that part of the peninsula which is or was the most narrow, between Poles 29 and 35, though the section just south of the Warren where the road has been washed over by the sea so many times is now even narrower!
Narrows Look-out Point
In 1961 an old army shelter made of wood was used as a look-out point on the Narrows. When it was damaged by fire in 1985 a breeze-block construction was erected near Pole 29; it was sometimes known as Cuddy’s Castle, after John Cudworth, a regular Narrows watcher from the 1950s until the 1990s. In January 2004 it was demolished, being about to succumb to the sea.
A seat placed near the Green Beacon in memory of Nick Bell, a well-known and popular birder, who died in 2001.
This was a 19th-century farmhouse which stood in Beacon Lane just north of Sandy Beaches Caravan Site. The Tennyson family farmed it from the late 19th century until it was demolished in the 1980s.
North Marsh Lane/Road
The correct or official name for Beacon Lane.
A 19th-century barn adjoining Southfield Farm. In 1998 it was converted into a residence.
A stony bank in the Humber near Chalk Bank. It was probably created during the breach of c.1608, when the southern end of a previous peninsula became an island which eventually washed away. Old Den may have been augmented by debris swept through when Spurn was again breached in 1849.
‘Old Inn’ see Lifeboat Inn
The pond at the entrance to the Reserve in an area formerly known as ‘Marsh Meadow’. Named from the appearance of a Pallas’s Warbler here in 1968, not Spurn and Yorkshire’s first which occurred in 1960.
Strictly speaking this is Blackmere Pond, or Black Mere, an ancient pond shown on early maps of Kilnsea. It was named Pancho Pond after Pancho Villa, the bungalow on the opposite side of the road.
A bungalow formerly the home of Mr. Ernest Tennison. Now (2004) called Mallenvilla, after the subsequent owners, the Mallens.
The flat area near the present lifeboat cottages. It was used as a parade ground by the military during World War II. The last time it was used for that purpose was on Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne in 1952, when RAF men who were barracked at Spurn held a ceremonial parade there on what was then a hard-packed clay surface. After the military left, the site became grassed over and rabbits kept the turf short, until myxomatosis almost killed them all. Fortunately the rabbits have now made a good come-back.
The lane that goes from the main road between Easington and Kilnsea to join Humber Side Lane.
To the east of Warren Cottage was a marshy area with shallow pools and, in the 19th century and earlier, a large mere. Nothing now remains of this area.
Established in the old World War I officers’ mess on the Point in 1974/5, when the pilots stopped using a vessel at the mouth of the Humber as their base, and moved to Spurn.
Built 1974/5 when the pilots began to use Spurn as their base.
Built 1974/5 on the Point on a former military Battery Observation Post, as an observation tower for the Humber Pilots when they moved to Spurn. Also used for the coastguards until they moved to Bridlington in 1989. In 1997 it was re-equipped with modern communications and re-named the VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) Tower.
Point Car Park
When the Victorian lifeboat cottages were pulled down in 1976, the site was bull-dozed and the rubble from the houses formed a new and much-needed car park. Before that date on busy weekends the parking in lay-bys caused tremendous problems.
Electricity poles which carry electric power to the Point. Erected in 1968 and the focus of much disapproval from people who preferred the horizontal nature of Spurn not to be broken up by such eyesores, as they saw it. In fact it was not the first time—in the late 19th to early 20th century, telegraph poles had gone right down the peninsula. Those were taken up when the telephone line was placed underground, possibly when the railway was built. Each pole is numbered and therefore they provide a useful reference point to the whereabouts of interesting birds/animals/insects/plants.
Port War Signal Station (PWSS)
Situated near Pole 69. Built during World War I, as a self-contained Naval unit, with officers’ quarters and barracks, this was a station with the important role of monitoring shipping movements. All vessels entering the Humber had to give a pre-arranged signal—pennants in daytime, and lights at night. The signals were changed daily or hourly. The Port War Signal Station was also used in World War II. Towards the end of that war, Wrens were stationed there. After the Navy left, the coastguards used it until they moved to Kilnsea in 1964. The ancillary buildings were demolished by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 1976, and the tower itself was taken down in 1979.
There were many allotments made by families who lived on the Point in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Until the building of the Port War Signal Station there were some near the lighthouse, and there were also some a little to the north, near what was to be the site of Tank Blocks and Tank Ditch, between Poles 62 and 64. When the Spurn Heritage Coast Project cleared away the buckthorn in this area, they found that the low banks separating individual plots were still there.
A mainly single-track railway line built in 1915 to transport goods and personnel, it ran from Godwin Battery down to the tip of Spurn. It closed and the track was lifted in 1951/2.
This was where water-transported materials for building the forts at the Point and at Kilnsea were unloaded. The pier was located at the Point south-west of the old Lifeboat House. The decking of the pier was removed in 1976 and the pier itself in 1995.
Riding School Fields
The fields between Sammy’s Point and Humber Side Lane Car Park, where horses from North Humberside Stables are kept. Until the Humber bank was raised after the 1953 floods this was an area of sand dunes. The hummocky ground here still shows evidence of that.
In the early years of SBO there was a ringing hut at the entrance to the Warren Trap in the bushes near the Annexe. In 1971 the ringing lab was moved into the northern half of one of the army buildings at the Warren. Observatory accommodation (Dun Birding) is in the other half. The ringing lab on the Point was established in 1968 at the time of the first BTO ringing course, in an old army building there.
A purpose-built 15-bedroom hotel erected near Blackmoor Farm and opened in August 1991. The hotel was built by Mr. and Mrs. Metcalfe and Keycon. By March 1993 the hotel was in the hands of the receivers, and in September 1993 it was sold to Quayside Ventures Ltd. The Metcalfes moved to Hodge Villa. The hotel’s new owner, Ben Evans, said that he had bought it with the intention of converting it to an old people’s home, but changed his mind and decided to keep it as a hotel. In 1996 the Riverside Hotel was again under new management until May 2001 when it was once again in receivership. It was sold to a Spanish company called Lucia Grupo Internacional, which in 2002 applied for planning permission to upgrade the hotel, and provide more bedrooms, as well as a swimming pool and a helipad in order “to attract Spanish families to the beautiful Spurn area” and apparently provide short-term accommodation for British expatriates. It has since been extended, though not to the extent envisaged in the planning application.
Almost opposite the Church, this cottage was built for coastguards in the middle of the 19th century and was then two dwellings.
Rothamsted Light Trap
An insect trap established in 1969 near the Warden’s bungalow. Operated continuously from 11th June 1969 until 29th November 2002.
Strictly speaking the point of land that juts out on to the Humber foreshore west of the Riverside Hotel. Now it refers to the bank that runs along the Humber towards the bushy area, and indeed to the bushy area itself. First called Sammy’s Point by Henry Bunce and his friend, Len Smith, after the area to the east of the mouth of the River Hull now occupied by ‘The Deep’. Kilnsea’s ‘Sammy’s Point’ was a shingle point before the 1953 floods, and Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover bred there. During the 1953 floods, the fields to the east were badly flooded and to protect the area inland, the bank was built up soon after. More recently it has been strengthened with chalk and rocks.
Sandy Beaches Caravan Site
A Mr. Burgess bought Godwin Battery, the first World War battery and fort just north of the Blue Bell, from the War Office in 1959. He turned it into a caravan site. Many of the old army buildings were re-used for the caravan site. The Gun Emplacements and other army buildings now lie scattered and broken on the beach.
In SBO reports this usually refers to a borrow pit created in 1973, when a flood bank was made down the middle of the field north of Big Hedge. This field became known thereafter as Scrape Field. The Scrape itself and most of the land to the east of the bank have now been taken by the sea.
Coastal artillery searchlight emplacements were erected on the Point in World War II. Some of them remain, the most easily accessible one being on the path to the Green Beacon.
The first hut was erected by SBO on stilts in Clubley’s Field in 1965. Because of erosion it was moved many times thereafter. In the early 1990s a new hut was placed alongside it by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project, and a few years later the SBO hut was removed.
The bay in the Humber between Cliff Farm and the gate to the Reserve was known as Sharp’s Bay after the Sharp family who farmed at Southfield Farm from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.
In 1989 in order to improve the grassland in the Chalk Bank/Wire Dump area 10 acres were fenced off between Poles 53 and 60, six stiles were made, and Hebridean sheep were first depastured there in 1990.
The only listed ‘building’ in Kilnsea. In World War I the Germans made bombing raids on eastern England from Zeppelins. In order to have some warning of their approach, acoustic sound mirrors made of concrete were erected at various points along the coast. The Kilnsea sound mirror, which stands in a field just north of Grange Farm, was probably erected in 1916. It is in the shape of a half-hexagon, with an inner concave circular disc to amplify sound. It is 16 feet high and 17 feet wide. In front of the concrete disc is a plinth, with a pipe on which would have been mounted a trumpet-shaped microphone known as a “Collector Head”. Wires passed down through the pipe to the “Listener”, who was stationed in a nearby trench. When he heard an approaching airship, he telephoned his superiors, who were probably at nearby Godwin Battery. Like modern early-warning radar systems, the sound mirrors could give only a four minute warning!
Was put up for auction with 17 acres of land in January 1996 after the death of Arthur Clubley the previous year, and his wife Nellie’s move to a residential home. The new owner converted the adjoining barn into another house (the Old Barn) and in 1998 sold Southfield Farm separately.
The large bay in the Humber between the Point and Kilnsea. Once known as Worm Sands. In the 19th century there was a proposal to reclaim this area by constructing an embankment across it, thus protecting the peninsula from erosion. In 1969 there were plans to use Spurn Bight as a dump for colliery waste. This was of considerable concern to local naturalists until plans were dropped in 1976.
When Jack Essex retired as a lifeboat man in 1996, Dave and Karen Steenvoordern took over the café in the caravan (Jack’s Snacks) and re-named it Spurn Bite.
A defensive fort containing several batteries built in World War I and refurbished for World War II. In 1959 Spurn Fort was no longer required by the Ministry of Defence and it was sold to the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust with the rest of the peninsula, excluding the area containing the lighthouse, which was transferred at a later date to the Trust.
Spurn Heritage Coast
In 1970 the Countryside Commission suggested that Spurn merited Heritage Coast status, but no further action was taken at that date. Spurn was eventually established as a Heritage Coast in 1988. Covers all the area south of Long Bank.
Spurn Heritage Coast Project
The Project was set up in 1988, and the first Project Officer, Tim Collins, arrived in 1989. It ceased to function in 2001.
A lightship which had been in commission since 1927 was removed in 1985 and replaced by a black and yellow light float—the East Cardinal. It can now be seen in Hull Marina.
Spurn was owned by the Constable family, who lived at Burton Constable. When the War Office wished to establish Spurn Fort to protect the Humber in World War I, they leased the peninsula from the Constables. In 1925 the War Office bought the peninsula from the Constables by compulsory purchase. Between the wars only a few military personnel remained at the Point. Spurn Fort was rearmed and manned for World War II. While the army was in control, the sea defences were well maintained, and after the war most of the personnel who remained were busy on that work. However during the period of international East-West tension known as the Cold War in the early 1950s, Spurn’s role in defending the coast was reassessed, and for a while the military returned, and even built new hutments near the Warren. However, by about 1956 the Ministry of Defence had decided that Spurn was no longer needed, and prolonged negotiations began with interested parties concerning its future. The Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust was interested in establishing Spurn as a nature reserve, whilst other, mainly local people wished to buy it and turn it into a recreational facility, probably a caravan or chalet site. In the end the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust bought Spurn in 1959.
Until World War II there was no proper road down Spurn. When the War Department took over the peninsula in 1914 they built a railway which was used by both military and civilian personnel. At the beginning of World War II the need for a road was obvious, and a concrete road with passing bays was built c.1940. Because of the narrowness of the peninsula, there were several points where the railway had to cross the road, and the track may still be seen embedded in the road surface at various points. The road lasted intact until the late 1970s, when sections of it north of the Narrows were undermined by high tides. The first time that a new section of road had to be laid was 1978. Since then there have been numerous occasions when new sections of road have had to be laid as erosion has taken its toll. Damage was particularly severe in 1991 and 1996.
(The) Stony Binks
A bank of cobbles, gravel and sand, which lies to the north-east of the tip of the Point. It created a dangerous hazard for ships which often went aground there, and rather than floating off when the tide came in, tended to founder. The majority of the lifeboat call-outs in the 19th century were to vessels stranded on the Binks. Also in the 19th century, gravelling vessels waited there at low tide to be loaded with cobbles and gravel, a job which provided a good income for the lifeboatmen and other local men.
The bungalow was part of a small army camp, which was used for Italian prisoners of war both during and after World War II. The Nissen huts were all around the perimeter of the field alongside the bungalow. In 1985 this field was cleared of bushes and the ex-War Department walls and a dug-out were removed or filled in.
Concrete anti-tank blocks were placed on the peninsula, and in Kilnsea and Easington, to act as a deterrent to tanks during World War II. Many can still be seen on both the sea side and the Humber side. A triple line of blocks went across from the Humber to the sea just north of Big Hedge. Most of these were removed in 1981 and placed at the Narrows to provide the road with protection from the sea. Nowadays when people refer to the Tank Blocks, they usually mean those which project into the Humber south of Cliff Farm.
Near Pole 65. Created during World War II as part of the defences of Spurn. It can be seen best on the eastern side of the road. On the western side it has mostly been filled in. Anti-tank blocks were placed on the beach on the sea side and on the Humber side.
Telegraph Poles see Poles/Posts
The field just to the south of Southfield Farm. Until this field was ploughed up in 1997 it was possible to see an excellent example of the ridges and furrows of the former open fields here.
Believe it or not there were toilets at the Point! They were located from 1967 until 1979 at the base of the former Port War Signal Station. In 1976 the Countryside Commission gave a grant for new toilets at the Warren, and the ‘portaloos’ were installed.
An area of scrub on the seaward side just to the south of the Compound. Here a Rufous-sided Towhee was in residence between September 1975 and January 1976. The whole area has been completely taken by the sea.
The area of land flanked by the Canal on the west, and the road from the Crown and Anchor to the Blue Bell on the north, and the road from the Blue Bell to the Reserve gate on the east. Much of the land within the Triangle was bought by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) Tower see Pilots’ Tower
Historically this name refers to most of the Triangle. Walker Butts was an area of common pasture used by the whole village until the enclosure of 1840. However the presence of ridge and furrow in this area shows that it must once have been cultivated as arable, presumably in the mediaeval period. Probably called Walker Butts after the Walker family who owned Southfield Farm and the land adjoining it in the 18th century. Butts usually means a short or irregularly shaped section of the open fields. Nowadays the name Walker Butts is generally given to what used to be called Caravan Field. The field was bought by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 1995.
From mediaeval times an area of land to the south of Kilnsea’s southernmost arable field (South Field) was known as Kilnsea Warren. It was common land, occupied by scrub and containing several meres, and including a rabbit warren. Until the beginning of the 19th century rabbits were ‘farmed’ for their flesh and fur, and there were many such enterprises in East Yorkshire. Old maps also show that part of the peninsula between the lighthouse and Chalk Bank as “Spurn Warren”, so presumably a warren was also established there. Spurn’s rabbits are probably direct descendants!
A cobble cottage built c.1859 for the shore bailiff who collected the dues from gravelling for the Constable family who owned the peninsula until 1925. In the 1880s until c.1905 it was rented by Colonel William Lambert White of Hedon as a shooting box, and his gamekeeper seems to have lived there when the White family was not in residence. In the 1920s it was described as “ruinous” but was occupied again before World War II. During the war it was used by the military and in 1945 Ralph Chislett negotiated to rent it from the War Department as the headquarters for Spurn Bird Observatory (SBO).
A lane with good hawthorn hedges which goes from Marsh Cottage, Easington, to join the main road from Easington to Skeffling.
A farmhouse built in the 1860s and situated on Easington Road between Grange Farm and the Crown and Anchor. John Ombler, who was the Board of Trade Superintendent of the beach works in the late 19th century, lived there. Later George Edwin Clubley, who shot the Houbara Bustard in 1896, also lived there.
The area just south of Chalk Bank, between Poles 56 and 60. It was called Wire Dump by the members of SBO because it was where the army had left piles of barbed wire entanglements that had been used to defend the peninsula.
Wire Dump south/the southern Sheep Field
An area that was fenced at the end of 2000 (paid for by English Nature) to allow an additional area of land to be grazed with the intention of improving the grassland.
The old name for Spurn Bight, presumably so called because of the abundance of ragworms to be taken there.
This is a sort of maritime grass, also known as Eel Grass, that periodically grows on the Humber flats, that Brent Geese like to eat. It is only mentioned because it starts with a ‘Z’!
Many thanks to Barry Spence and Pete Crowther for help with this article.