The settlement “at the huts or cottages”. Cotum (1123-28) 1404, Cotom 1231, 1443. Old English cot, dative plural cotum. The reference is to fishermen’s huts. The name is in systemic contrast with other dative plural names in the district, Acklam, Kirkleatham, Marske and Upleatham.
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
Coatham does not appear by name in the Domesday Book. The lands of Coatham may have been valued as part of Kirkleatham, but it is not possible to establish any firm information.
See William Farrer’s translation in “The Victoria History of the County of York” vol. 2 (ed.) W.Page (1912)
The de Brus family of Skelton held most of Cleveland in the 12th century, including Coatham. By 1257, East Coatham was in the hands of the Thweng family. From the late 14th century to the late 16th century the Lumleys were lords of East Coatham. Throughout the later Middle Ages and up to 1558 the Bulmer family held West Coatham.
See “The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923).
An Early Mention
A royal document, the Great Roll of the Pipe for the sixth year of the reign of King John (1204), contains tax records for ports on the east coast and the south coast of England. The tax was levied at the rate of one fifteenth of the value of the goods traded over and eighteen month period. The assessment was transcribed in “Domesday Book to Magna Carta” R.L.Poole (1951). The list begins:
Newcastle £158 5s 11d
Yarm £42 17s 10d
Coatham 11s 11d
Whitby 4s 0d
Scarborough £22 0s 4d
It is not possible to give an accurate modern equivalent, but the lowest recent estimates of the value of Coatham’s trade are over £8,000. This is small compared with Newcastle’s estimate of over £2 million or Yarm’s £550,000, but it should be noted that the value of Coatham’s trade was 3 times that of Whitby.
An early mention in literature can be found in “A Description of England and Wales” vol.10, F.Newbery and T.Carnan (1770) “A collection of little mean ale-houses, which encouraged idleness and drunkenness among the villages and were the receptacles of the smugglers that frequented the west, he (Charles Turner of Kirkleatham Hall) caused to be demolished, and erected two very handsome inns, one in the new village above mentioned (Kirkleatham), and the other in a little fishing town (Coatham), a part of his estate on the coast; and as the inn at the fishing town is near one of the finest beaches in England, he raised a house with handsome apartments, and built bathing machines, that his own company, and the gentlemen and ladies of the neighbourhood, might have the convenience of bathing, without the trouble and expence of going to Scarborough.”
The Lay Subsidy of 1301
For the purpose of this government tax, Coatham was divided into two parts which were treated quite differently. The tax returns for West Coatham were lumped together with Wilton, while the East Coatham returns were lumped together with Kirkleatham and Yearby. The Coatham taxpayers cannot be distinguished from the rest, although we might speculate that one of them, Thomas Mercator, may have been Thomas the Merchant from the small port of Coatham.
Derived from “Yorkshire Lay Subsidy” edited by W.Brown (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series) (1897)
44-50 High Street West (mostly 18th century. One has the date 1698).
Christ Church (1854)
Redcar Station (1861) a listed building, being the only station in Cleveland which still has its original train shed.
Red Barns (1870) designed by Philip Webb for Thomas Hugh Bell.
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church (1914)
A Few Lost Buildings
The Coatham Hotel (1860)
Sir William Turner’s Grammar School (1867) demolished in 1962.
Coatham Pier (1875) demolished in 1910.
Coatham Bowl ( 1960s) demolished in 2014.
Convalescent Home (1861) demolished in 1951.
Some People of Note
Teresa Newcomen (1813-1887) A Londoner by birth, Teresa Newcomen lived at Coatham in her later life. She built churches, hospitals and convalescent homes and was Mother Foundress of the Community of the Holy Rood.
Thomas Locke (1830-1924) A surgeon from Bury St. Edmunds who practised as a doctor in Coatham for over 50 years. He gave the money to create Locke Park.
John Stead (1851-1923) Born in Tyneside, J.E.Stead worked at the Middlesbrough ironworks of Bolckow, Vaughan and Company from 1875. From then on he spent much of his life in Coatham. He became one of the founders of modern metallurgy.
Jane Gardam (1928- ) A novelist who was born in Coatham. Her first books were written for children. Two of her adult novels won the Whitbread Prize and a third was nominated for the Booker Prize.
The Hearth Tax of 1673
In the returns for this national tax, West Coatham was given as having 4 houses with 2 hearths. East Coatham was not identified in the tax returns.
See “The Hearth Tax List for the North Riding of Yorkshire, Michaelmas 1673”, Ripon Historical Society (2011)
White’s Directory of 1840 observed that Coatham had been “a noted bathing place” at an earlier date, “but the neighbouring fishing town of Redcar robbed it of its celebrity status as a bathing place many years ago”. White’s listed the Lobster Inn, a beerhouse, 3 shopkeepers, 3 tailors, a shoemaker, a joiner, a corn miller, 3 farmers, a solicitor, an academy and a free school.
Kelly’s Directory of 1937 listed 2 grocers, 4 butchers, 2 fruiterers, a baker, a confectioner, 2 chemists, a draper, a bootmaker, a milliner, 2 stationers, a wine and spirits dealer and 2 watchmakers. This may not have been a complete list.
A Selection of Dates
1070 William I brought troops to Coatham marshes in pursuit of rebels who had hidden there.
1205 The trade of the port of Coatham was assessed as more than the port of Whitby.
1257 By this time Coatham had a weekly market and an annual fair.
1422 An inquisition held in this year mentioned four saltworks at Coatham.
1656 The first mention of Coatham in the Quarter Sessions records.
1698 Coatham’s oldest house has this date on its datestone.
1772 The New Inn was built at East Coatham “for the accommodation of sea bathers”.
1811 The Turner family established a free school for 50 poor children in the village.
1815 Coatham mill was burnt down.
1846 The Stockton and Darlington Railway was extended from Middlesbrough. The line went through Coatham to a terminus on what is now Queen Street, not far from Redcar town clock..
1854 Christ Church was consecrated.
1858 The Redcar and Coatham Cricket Club was founded with their ground in Coatham.
1860 The Coatham Hotel was built.
1861 The Convalescent Home was opened.
When the railway was extended to Saltburn, the line took a new route and the line through Coatham became redundant.
1866 Teresa Newcomen built an elementary school for 300 children.
1867 The Kirkleatham Estate commissioned a development plan to create a high-class suburb of grand villas around the cricket ground.
1869 Sir William Turner’s Grammar School opened. Coatham Wesleyan Methodist chapel was dedicated.
1873 Coatham Ironworks was established.
1875 The Victoria Pier was completed.
1877 Coatham Roman Catholic church was consecrated.
1888 The South Gare breakwater was formally opened. Coatham vicarage was built.
1896 Coatham R.C. school was built.
1898 The Victoria Pier was closed, having been breached by a sailing ship, the Birger, although the pavilion and its roller-skating rink continued in use until it was demolished in 1910
1899 Coatham and Redcar were merged to form Redcar Urban District.
1900 Coatham cricket ground was laid out.
1908 West Dyke mixed and infants school opened.
1914 Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Lobster Road was consecrated.
1928 The new Pavilion Theatre was opened at what used to be the entrance to the Victoria Pier.
1930 Coatham Enclosure was opened , with gardens, a boating lake and an outdoor swimming pool.
1941 15 people were killed when the Zetland Club was hit by bomb during an air raid.
1951 The outdoor swimming pool was converted to a skating rink.
1963 The Grammar School moved from Coatham Road to Corporation Road
Coatham caravan site opened.
1964 The New Pavilion Theatre was converted to the Regent Cinema.
1971 The South Gare and Coatham Sands became a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
1973 Redcar Jazz Club, based at the Coatham Hotel, came to an end.
1982 Tees Valley Wildlife Trust began managing Coatham Marsh nature reserve.
1983 The British Professional Darts Championship was staged at Coatham Bowl from 1983 to 1988.
1994 Jane Gardam wrote The Iron Coast with recollections of her younger days in Coatham.
2009 The boating lake at Coatham enclosure was renovated.
2014 Coatham Bowl was demolished.
This list of dates was compiled using the Redcar Past and Present website and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“A Trip to Coatham: A Watering Place in the North Extremity of Yorkshire” W.Hutton (1810)
“The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire North Riding” vol.2 (ed.) W.Page (1923)
“Redcar and Coatham: A History to the End of the 19th Century”, J.Cockroft (1974)
“The Port of Coatham 1789 to 1808” D.W.Pattenden, Bulletin of the C.T.L.H.S. no.11 (1970)
“The Holiday Business: Lodging Houses and Landladies in Two Nineteenth Century Cleveland Resorts”, M.Huggins, Bulletin of the C.T.L.H.S. No. 44 (1983)