Museum opens up with a look at the harbour’s history

Marie Simcox
Marie Simcox

The museum which charts Bridlington’s history has unveiled a new exhibition as it reopened this week.

The Bayle welcomed its first visitors of 2017 on Monday, and the Free Press were first through the doors to take a look at a room devoted to the history of the town’s harbour.

The Bayle opened for the 2017 on Monday

The Bayle opened for the 2017 on Monday

The magnificent court room at the top of the building, which featured wartime nostalgia last year because of the Dad’s Army film links, has been transformed.

Marie Simcox, who is the museumassistant for the Lords Feoffees, said: “Everything in this exhibition is new to the displays and has been brought from the Bayle and Harbour Archives.

“It is the first time we have incorporated all the cases around the edge of the room into the exhibition, because it is so big.

“It has been a huge project for this year and it has all been assisted by donations. It’s brilliant that people support what we do.

The model of the Three Brothers

The model of the Three Brothers

“People think we are only interested in displaying special items but we are just as happy to see the things from everyday life. Often we struggle to find them.”

The Lords Feoffees still meet in the court room four times a year.

For 2017, one of the main areas is given over to paintings of the harbour by local artists and students from East Riding College.

Marie said: “The Lords Feoffees decided they would offer prizes for the artists to buy equipment and help them progress, and they are hoping some of the artists will consider selling their pieces.

One of the paintings of the harbour

One of the paintings of the harbour

“We were looking for something which show how the harbour has changed and they are amazing. We were surprised how many difference pieces we have got.”

Elsewhere are items which you’d usually find on boats in the harbour.

“Some of the items are on loan from various fishermen, and they show what they use in their day-to-day life,” said Marie. “It’s lovely how the community has got behind us, because these are items they still use.

“The crab pots have been made for us and have never been used.”

The court room at the Bayle Museum

The court room at the Bayle Museum

More than 250 years old, Wootton’s Plans for Bridlington are displayed in one of the cases, and show the designs for building the resort’s pier.

“I thought they were beautiful,” said Marie. “They don’t make architects’ plans like that anymore.”

Another area looks at the history of the lifeboat, with photographs and medals. “We rarely get lifeboat memorabilia and it is such a big part of Bridlington. We see lots of photos but not the memorabilia, so the medal is very special.”

Sea angling trophies which have been competed for down the years and a model of the Boys’ Own coble are among the other exhibits.

You can also see the Harbour Master’s log books, which the Lords Feoffees are the caretakers of, storing and caring for the historic documents. There are also items used by custom officers in days gone by, such as the stamp they used to emboss on letters from the harbour.

Elsewhere in the room are a couple of fishermen’s Ganseys, while the wooden Mouseman furniture has been restored over the winter.

On the exterior of the building, you will notice a new stone with the Bridlington 3Bs crest, which was lovingly crafted using traditional techniques.

The old stone, which was made in the early 1900s, has been added to the Court Room.

“We had quite a few letters asking where it had gone. The new one has been created so it will weather and will change colour.”

Marie has been at the Bayle for nearly five years. “I love doing this job and I have learnt a lot. I didn’t know much about the fishing history in Bridlington so this exhibition was unnerving for me to start with.

“But the Chief Lord, Neil Newby, his background is at the harbour so he was able to put names to all the faces in the photographs.”

The museum still remains something of a hidden gem in Bridlington, with many people who were born and bred in the town admitting they have never been in.

“A lot of people cannot believe how big it is inside.

“We have also started to get a lot of overseas vistors in the last couple of years.

The Bayle is open Monday to Friday until the end of September, Tuesday until Friday during October and on selected weekends during the year.