Longswords and Lifeboats

From smugglers to sword dancing, the history of Flamborough is a living history and is as rich and varied as the landscape around it.

The fishing heritage of Flamborough is evident everywhere, from the names of houses to the tradtional Yorkshire cobles on the beach at North Landing. The very placement of the village is, in itself a reminder; equal distance from North and South Landing, fishermen gave themselves opportunity to launch from either site depending on the direction of the wind on any given day.


The headland’s oldest building sits in the centre of Flamborough village and is known as the Flamborough Castle.  The three remaining chalk walls, dating back to 1326, are in fact the remains of a Pele style tower that formed part of a fortified manor house. Alongside the manor house and tower, the site once held a hall, great parlour, Lord’s parlour, a chapel, a court house, a mill house and a great barn.

Nearby, on the village green, the Longswords and Lifeboats Storyboard explains more about the history of this unique village; steeped in tradition and intrinsically linked with the sea.

© Heather Davison-Smith
Flamborough’s lifeboat stations also form part of the headland’s living history.

Lifeboats were first placed at Flamborough in 1871, in response to the “Tenth of February Gale”. Two Stations were established, one at the North Landing (Flamborough No 1 Station) and one at the South Landing (Flamborough No 2 Station). The idea behind this was that one lifeboat could be launched whatever the conditions; if weather or sea prevented the launch of the lifeboat from the North Landing, the South Landing boat would be able to get away, and vice-versa.

The two stations operated together for a period of 67 years. In 1938 Flamborough No 2 Station at South Landing was closed due to the increased efficiency of the motorised lifeboat which had arrived at North Landing in 1934. In 1993, the RNLI made the decision to withdraw all weather lifeboat cover from Flamborough built a brand new boathouse on the original site at South Landing; causing the permanent closure of the station at North Landing. The South Landing site is operational to present day with local crew from the village. From their inception to the present day, the headland’s lifeboat crews have saved over 540 lives.

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