Place-name ‘The stream settlement’. Bro(c)tune 1086, Brocton 1272, Brotton from 1181.
Old English broc-tun
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
Under the heading “Lands of the Count” it says:
“In Broctune (Brotton), 12 carucates for geld, and 6 ploughs can be (there). Uctred had 1 manor there. Now Richard has (it) of the Count. On the demesne (there is) 1 plough, and (there are) 8 villeins with 4 ploughs. 12 acres of meadow (are) there. The whole manor (has) 1 and a half leagues in length and 1 in breadth. T.R.E. it was worth 20s.; now (it is worth) 13s. 4d.
To this manor belongs soc in Mersc (Marske) of 10 carucates for geld, and 5 ploughs to plough (them). 1 villein is there, ploughing with 2 oxen; and 10 acres of meadow.”
See William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1912).
Before the Norman Conquest, Ucted was the chief landholder in Brotton. During the reign of Henry I Brotton became part of the extensive estates of Robert de Brus. In 1272 the manor of Brotton passed to the Thweng family. By the 16th century it was in the hands of the Conyers family.
See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923).
An Early Mention
A letter dated from Whitby , 15th November 1678 can be found in the Calendar of State Papers.
“To-day came some Newcastle men hither, who report that Tuesday last part of Tynemouth Castle was intended to have been blown up by powder, that 5 of the contrivers are taken endeavouring to carry on the train, that a ballast man had several barrels of powder and arms found hid and was fled, that 40 horsemen armed were heard and seen to march through Skelton and Brotton 16 miles to the northward of this (town) in the dead of night. On these reports and apprehensions this town has set a watch to guard our shipping and town, 8 masters of ships each night.”
The Lay Subsidy of 1301
For the purposes of this government tax Brotton was lumped together with Skinningrove and it’s not possible to tell which taxpayers lived in Brotton and which in its smaller neighbour. 34 taxpayers were listed. These were mostly heads of families who had movable property of sufficient value to qualify for paying tax. Historians reckon that these names represent only about a third or a quarter of the heads of families, so medieval Brotton must have been quite a sizeable village. The highest tax was paid by William Latimer, the lord of the manor, at more than 24 shillings. The total for the two villages was just over 73 shillings.
Brotton Hall (c.1780)
Brotton House (early 19th century)
Hunley House (c.1870)
Brotton station (1875)
St. Margaret’s Church (1891)
St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church (1907)
Cleveland Cottage Hospital (1874)
The Guibal Fanhouse at Huntcliffe Mine (1872)
East Cleveland Primary Care Hospital (1995)
A Few Lost Buildings
Ivy Cottage (17th century) demolished in 1936.
St. Margaret’s old church (18th century)
Brotton Grange (c.1865) (on Coach Road)
St. Peter’s mortuary chapel (1778) demolished in 1958.
The Cleveland Hall (c.1870) demolished in 1984.
The Hippodrome (1914) destroyed by fire in 1934.
Warsett School (1962) demolished after a fire in 2005.
Some People of Note
Piercy Morrison (1868-1936) A rugby player, born in Brotton, who played for England in the 1890s.
Charles Robinson Sykes (1875-1950) A sculptor from Brotton who designed the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot for Rolls-Royce cars.
Mary Jarred (1899-1993) An opera singer who was born in Brotton. She sang at Convent Garden through most of the 1930s and at Glyndebourne in the 1950s.
John Ronald Murray (1924- ) Ronald Murray was a merchant seaman from Brotton who took part in the D-Day Landings in 1944. For his bravery there he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur.
Derek McLean (1932- ) A fooballer from Brotton who played for Middlesbrough in the 1955-56 season alongside the future international players Brian Clough, Alan Peacock and Edwin Holliday.
David Charlton (1936-2013) Dave Charlton was born in Brotton but moved to South Africa where he became the country’s leading formula one racing car driver in the 1970s. He won 4 out of 10 of all his races, but failed to win any of the grand prix that he took part in.
Davey Todd (1995- ) A motor bike racer from Brotton. On his first ride in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy he set the second fastest lap time ever recorded by a newcomer.
Kelly-Jo Robson (1988- ) A weightlifter who was born in Brotton. She became English champion in her weight group in 2016.
The Hearth Tax of 1673
From the returns of this government tax it appears that Brotton was a sizeable village in the late 17th century. There were 40 single hearth properties and 9 properties with 2 hearths. Only one property, that of “Mr Fra Seaton” had 4 hearths. The returns record that a further 19 single-hearth homes were assessed as below the tax threshhold.
See “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673, Ripon Historical Society (2011).
2011 7,000 (Brotton Ward)
White’s Directory of 1840 listed 2 shopkeepers, 2 butchers, 2 tailors, 3 shoemakers, 3 blacksmiths, a wheelwright, a painter, a miller and 10 farmers. It also named the Green Tree and the Ship.
Kelly’s Directory of 1914 portrayed Brotton as a bustling shopping centre, with 10 grocers, 9 shopkeepers, 2 greengrocers, 5 butchers, 5 drapers, 3 tailors, 4 shoemakers, a chemist, a newsagent, a tobacconist, a watchmaker, a fancy goods dealer, 2 hairdressers, 2 blacksmiths and 2 joiners. In addition there were 3 beer retailers as well as the Green Tree, the Ship, the Royal Hotel and the Queen’s Arms. It is possible that neither directory provided a complete list.
A Selection of Dates
1272 The manor of Brotton passed from the de Brus family of Skelton to the de Thweng family of Kilton.
1560 The last of the Conyers lords of the manor of Brotton died.
1653 Parish registers date from this year.
1778 The medieval chapel of St. Margaret was rebuilt.
1855 A Wesleyan chapel had opened in Brotton by this date.
1857 Cliff ironstone mine at Huntcliff opened. It closed after thirty years.
1865 Brotton ironstone mine, known locally as Morrison’s mine, was opened.
1868 Brotton was made a separate parish, removed from Skelton parish.
1871 The Primitive Methodist schoolroom and chapel were opened.
1872 Huntcliff ironstone mine opened, not far from Cliff mine.
1874 Cleveland Cottage Hospital was built by Bell Brothers. It became known as Brotton Cottage Hospital. Martins Bank opened a branch in Brotton.
1875 Railway passenger services from Brotton began.
1876 A brass band contest was held in Brotton.
1880 Lumpsey ironstone mine, just south of Brotton, began production.
1892 St. Margaret of Antioch, the parish church of Brotton, was consecrated.
1898 The F.A. Amateur Cup semi-final between Middlesbrough and Thornaby was played at Brotton because of the smallpox epidemic in Middlesbrough.
1899 Brotton finished fourth in the Northern Football League Division Two.
1901 Two passenger trains collided near Brotton station.
1906 St. Anthony of Padua R.C. church was opened. Huntcliff mine closed.
1908 Brotton Temperance Brass Band won the British Brass Band Association competition.
1909 The Wesleyan Church was dedicated.
1914 The Palace cinema and the Hippodrome cinema were opened.
1916 Zeppelin airships made bombing raids along the coast.
1919 Brotton Bowls Club was founded.
1921 Production ended at Brotton ironstone mine.
1923 The War Memorial was unveiled.
1932 The Hippodrome cinema was destroyed by fire.
1954 Lumpsey ironstone mine was closed. Brotton County Modern School was opened.
1960 Brotton station was closed for passengers.
1962 Official opening of Brotton County Modern School, which became Warsett School.
1966 The first Skelton and Brotton District Carnival was held.
1978 Brotton Conservation Area was designated.
1985 Kiltondale home was opened. It was demolished in 2011.
1993 The shale tips at Lumpsey mine were flattened.
1995 A new hospital was built to replace the old cottage hospital which was converted into homes.
1998 A new road between Skelton and Carlin How bypassed Brotton.
2001 Warsett School, Brotton, De Brus School, Skelton and Rosecroft School in Loftus were amalgamated to form Freebrough College in Brotton.
2006 Brotton Library was moved to Freebrough College.
2018 Badger sculptures were installed.
This list of dates was compiled using “This is the North East: Brotton History” website and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“A Guide to Saltburn-by-the-Sea and the Surrounding District” J.Farndale (1864)
“East Cleveland Photographic Memories” R.Darnton (2010)
“Know Your Parish: Brotton” M.Wall, C.F.H.S. Journal vol.3 no. 7 (1987)