Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             

©2010 C.J.S.Wilson

Staithes 02

8

...more Captain Cook, Man of the Sea

1745

    After seeing to his education, Thomas Scottowe then found James a job. At first he worked on the farm with his father, then at the age of 16 went to work for William Sanderson who was related to Scottowe. Sanderson owned a grocery and drapery store at the seaside village of Staithes (pronounced ‘Steers’ by the locals), only a short distance from Whitby. His premises are now lost to the sea but stood on the front, backing onto the beach, near where the Cod & Lobster Inn is now. A walk through the narrow streets and a glance down tight alleys today shows the village layout probably little changed from Cook’s day. Only the never ceasing hammering of the waves has altered the line of the cliffs, the North Sea’s greedy fingers stealing any land to show weakness.

    Some of the windows in Sanderson’s shop would have provided a constant view of coasters skimming by on the horizon, sails billowing as they ferried coals south. Others would anchor in the bay to disgorge cargo into cobles for the run ashore. Always there would be a jumble of boats at the quay or in Roxby Beck, men mending fishing nets or sorting catches, boys helping fathers prepare to ‘go off’ and scratch a living in that most precarious of occupations. Hardships apart, for a boy tied to the boredom of a serving counter and bound by a flour-powdered apron, the romance  of  the  sea  must  have  been irresistible.  

An old postcard of Staithes. Sanderson's shop would have been on the right, on the front line.

An old postcard of Staithes. Sanderson's shop would have been on the right, on the front line.

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