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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Skinningrove is a village in North Yorkshire, England. Its name is Viking influenced and is thought to mean skinners' grove or pit.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Skinningrove
  • Skinningrove Bonfire (2011)


CHRIS KILLIP: I'm going to show you a group of pictures from a village called Skinningrove, and I've never published this work in its entirety. I think I've published four photographs from Skinningrove only, and I have something like forty here to show you this afternoon. This photograph is just of the sea, and it's from Staithes Breakwater. It's just a picture I like, and it's about five miles south of Skinningrove. And this is the village of Skinningrove. Now, Skinningrove is a very small, very insular village, which you can't see from the main road. It's fiercely independent; it's fiercely protective; and it's very hostile to strangers. The men of Skinningrove believe that the sea in front of them belongs to them. Other people say of Skinningrove, "Oh, Skinningrove. That's where they eat their babies." It is a pretty tough place. And it is a pretty fantastic place, because people are obsessed with the sea. And it's also got such a strange industrial history that the village of Skinningrove comes about, because iron ore is discovered in this valley. And originally the houses were built for the iron ore miners. And then, there was an ironworks built above the village, which eventually closed down in 1971 but reopened in 1974 as a steelworking mill. And so what you had was a community of people who were part-time fishermen. And so it's a strange village, where men worked in the ironworks and the steelworks but also fished. Main fishing is actually for lobsters, which are much more lucrative and a much more stable thing to go for than just for fish itself. The old breakwater at Skinningrove is falling into disrepair, because that stopped being used when the ironworks came to an end in 1974. And the light there can be so beautiful, because it's very diffused light around the North Sea, and the light is bouncing off the sea and bouncing all around. Looking back now at the village, you can see the only real view you can get of Skinningrove is actually from the sea. It's a difficult place to see. Here's a net-mending picture, which... it amuses me how this refers to the genre paintings of fishermen, except it's in Skinningrove, so the cigarettes in the mouth are so very grounding as they're cleaning the nets, as the rubbish on the ground prevents it from being too idyllic. Here's a picture that I did use in my book "In Flagrante." That's the view looking out to sea, and this is the view now looking backwards the other way. So you can see now the face of the woman. And next to her is her husband, and the baby's in the pram. And then in this photograph, this is the same baby four months later, without the wife. The husband is looking at me. And here's looking back again on another day. And the man standing in the boat with the long hair is Leso, who was the person that was most effective in helping me to photograph in Skinningrove, because when people were sort of questioning my presence, he was always saying, "No, he's okay. He's all right. Leave him alone. Let him be. Let him photograph." And I never talked to Leso about why I was photographing and he never asked me, but he would always defend me. I liked him very much. He was a very smart guy, and I figured he thought that maybe what I was doing had some value. Here are people sitting around and they're working repairing on this boat, and they're hanging out. I like the photograph because of my familiarity. I'm there with a plate camera, very, very visible, but nobody's actually bothered about my presence. And I like the way that nobody's looking at me. They're caught up in their own thoughts, whatever they're doing, and Whippet is there listening to his... he's got a tape cassette machine, which is a very old-fashioned thing now. He's listening to his punk music, and his brother, Blackie, is in the middle of the image. Their elder brother is in the white T-shirt, walking away. Bever is on the right; young David is lying on the ground with his back to me. It's, for me, being familiar allows me to take pictures like this. This is, you can see more clearly, how they get their boats in and out of the water now at Skinningrove using little, low-loading trailers to get the boats off and on, to launch them and bring them back. Another view of the boat building on another day but looking the other way and seeing something different about the housing from the 1950s. Children of Skinningrove playing some game. Older girls from Skinningrove picking shellfish. And there's Leso on the left with dyed blond hair. Sitting next to him is Blackie; in the middle is Bever. I can't remember the next chap's name. Then, there's young David on the other end, and Whippet with the punk hairdo, the Mohican, and the tight pants. On July 29, 1986, Bever, young David, and Leso were fishing in Leso's boat, and the boat overturned. Leso is drowned, as is young David, and Bever survives, because he was so big and strong. He was washed ashore. At the funeral, David's mother... young David's mother, asked me, Did I have any photos of David? And I actually said no. And then at home in bed late that night, I woke up with a start and realized the woman wasn't asking me, Did I have any photographs that I wanted to exhibit? She was asking me, Did I have any pictures of her dead son? So I got out of bed and started looking at my contact sheets, and two weeks later, I came back to the village and gave her an album. I think it had thirty-six photographs of David in it, from when he was thirteen to when he was seventeen. That's a strange thing. This is David, and this is the last picture I took of him, when he's seventeen. This is Bever at an earlier date, very early in the morning. I think it's about quarter to six in the summer in June, where he's just gotten out after being locked up for a bit. In a pub fight, a policeman came towards him with his raised truncheon and Bever looked up and punched him. But Bever's quite strong, and he hit him on the chin and knocked him out. So he had to do a little bit of lock up for that. And here he is enjoying the sun on his first day out. Here's Leso out with his gun and his dogs. Leso, again, was always the center of attention, because he was the most sort of ambitious of the younger men fishing. And he just managed to sort of always be holding court. He was so keen on fishing. It's sad that he died. Here he is, Leso, sitting on a motorbike, thinking. I know what he's thinking. He's thinking about fishing and about the boat and lobsters and what they're going to get and how they're going to do it and where it might be better to go. He's obsessed with fishing. Here's Leso with Bever. Leso... and if you look carefully at this face in this picture, you can see it's got a lot of scratches and marks on him. He's been in a pub fight on the previous Saturday night, and he's sort of got the remnants of the marks on his face. Here they are waiting for the tide. They'll wait, and then they'll go out again to check their pots and do whatever they're going to do. Leso, ripping apart his boat, the little boat he had at that time, the little "Cock-a-leekie." A quite romantic picture of Leso, which I like, and I've got it on the wall in my studio. So when I come in in the morning, I'll have a word with him, say something. Strange group of pictures now. There's David there with his hand on the tiller. David is to drown later, but he's with young Simon. And the men are taking young Simon out to sea to try and ensure that he doesn't become fearful of the sea, because his father was drowned three weeks previously. And this is sort of a ritualistic thing that they do. And I joined them, I just went out with them. And I don't remember Simon speaking. And he's dressed up for the occasion, and we went out and we were out for about half an hour, three-quarters of an hour, and then came back. And then he went to shore. And I don't know what he thought about all this, and I don't know what to do with the pictures. This picture is probably the most poignant, and it's on the way back. And he's... I can tell that because he buttoned up his jacket, he's cold, and we're coming back in. I don't know how... if I should use these photographs or how I could use these photographs. I'm very unsure about what use they are. Here's Bever with a gun. And this sort of thing about being familiar and intimate in a place where you can be part of things which are about intimacy... the way these men are talking to each other and the casualness of things and the tractors and the motorbike and the cars, all the different angles, and it's sort of casual but also intimate. I can remember taking this picture and asking the girl to hold still, because the sun was setting and it's a long exposure. And I'm shouting at the little boy Brian, "Hold still!" And they did. They're quite sharp. And this is a picture of Brian a year later, and this is another picture of Brian a year after that. So when you're in a place over a period of time, you sort of chronicle time inevitably. And here's Whippet with a record, which I think the title is "Punk and Disorderly." I like the way Whippet is so stylishly dressed, which would date him specifically. If someone knew a little about pop culture, they would know the time that record came out. And he seems like he's very proud of having this. It must be a new release, I think. And here's the schoolteacher with the infant's school. And the children are looking out at the boats, and one of them might be able to see their father. There's now no school, no infant school in Skinningrove, which I think is a big loss for a small place. I think there's something very unifying about having a school where you live. And here's the teacher from the local comprehensive, teaching the Skinningrove kids to draw. That's actually the photographer Ian Macdonald. That's what he had to do for a living, was teach art in school. And here's the children on the beach, playing and watching. The guys are doing some repairs to a wheel here, but the children, I think, are always absorbing things because their elders are in front of them and doing things. Here's Whippet in his full punk paraphernalia, and that's his dad, Ted, on the left. This is a picture of him I like. I like his two little dogs as well. Here's some Skinningrove kids, and they've been swimming but they lit a bonfire because it's cold. There's this sort of contradiction of the English summer. It's never that warm, never that great. These are three brothers. The two older brothers fish in the same boat, and the younger brother never fished, I don't think. A portrait of a lady who every day would come down, twice a day, in the morning, look to see if the sea was there, then leave, and come back in the evening and look again to check before she went to bed. And this was her twice-a-day routine. This gentleman, I waited to photograph him until a Sunday, 'til I knew he'd have his best clothes on before he went to chapel. He always wore this beautiful navy-blue serge suit, which is the favorite suit of fishermen where I grew up in a fishing village, in the Isle of Man... I grew up in, all men of the sea always had a navy-blue serge suit, and he has one, too. There's puppies, babies, children, the street. Skinningrove in the summer in a thunderstorm, and the girls are buying ice cream. Here's the beach, again, this attempt to sort of convey the mess of the place but the grandeur of the place at the same time. They're sort of competing things. I can remember taking this picture. It was a Sunday. I started taking the picture at eight o'clock in the morning. It's raining, and I'm standing in the doorway, and I'm struggling to take it. And I'm trying to take something that shows the mess of Skinningrove, the way the men deliberately didn't keep it tidy, because they were always worried that the council was going to evict everybody and be able to turn Skinningrove into an enclave of weekend cottages. The council had offered to rehouse everybody inland and the villagers had refused to go. They didn't want to be put onto a reservation. And they actually fought the council and won and had the houses demolished and rebuilt for the people who lived in them. Quite an amazing victory, but they still were sort of like always anxious about the place being taken over. It had great real estate potential. And the potential I saw in it was something else. It was to do with the German idea of romanticism, where you can see something of the sublime in the everyday. And I was very interested in hanging on to the everyday, to the rain you can see falling into the river, the rain on the railings, the mess of the place. And also, there is something else. I was trying to allude to the something else in the expanse of the sky and the horizon.



The village had an agricultural and fishing economy until the opening of local ironstone workings in 1848 initiated an industrialisation boom. A railway was built by 1865, and iron smelting began in 1874. A jetty on the coast built in 1880 allowed seagoing vessels to carry heavy cargoes from the area. Mining continued until 1958 and primary iron production until the 1970s.[1]

Contemporary description

The Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum (formerly the Tom Leonard Mining Museum) describes the village's mining heritage, providing a unique underground experience and an insight into how 6.2 million tons of ironstone was extracted from Skinningrove. The village has a large natural sand beach used for recreational fishing and a beck, which occasionally floods, notably in 2000. It also has the Riverside Building Community Centre which is on the site of a former school. There is a Methodist chapel which has services on a Sunday at 18:00. There is also a fish and chip shop, a community centre and general dealers and post office. Every year Skinningrove hosts a bonfire and fireworks display which attracts hundreds of people from around North Yorkshire. Each year the bonfire is based on a different theme. The Cleveland Way runs through the village.[3]


On 17 February 2003, a rarely seen oarfish was caught by angler Val Fletcher, using a fishing rod baited with squid.[4] The fish was 11 ft 4 in (3.3 m) long and weighed 140 lb (63.5 kg). Graham Hill, the science officer at the Deep, an aquarium in Hull, said that he had never heard of another oarfish being caught off the coast of Britain. The Natural History Museum in London said that it would have been interested in preserving the fish in its permanent collection; however the fish had been 'cut up into steaks' before any scientists could examine it.


  1. ^ a b "Skinningrove Conservation Area Appraisal" (PDF). Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council. March 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Lingdale in North Yorkshire". This is the North East. Northumbia University. Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Skinningrove at Digital Village". East Cleveland Community Development Group in partnership with the University of Teesside. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  4. ^ Jenkins, Russell (21 February 2003). "Woman angler lands legendary sea monster". The Times. London. Retrieved 25 February 2010. The novice angler fishing off the rocks for mackerel thought that she must have hooked a big one. Unfortunately the oarfish has been cut up into steaks for the pot.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 July 2018, at 10:49
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