History of pleasure boating in Bridlington
Bridlington has had a long history of boats taking passengers on pleasure cruises to see the spectacular coastline. It began with local fisherman taking passengers out to sea on their fishing cobles during the summer, and then in the 1850’s paddle steamers from Scarborough started visiting Bridlington on day trips.
In 1899 Bridlington got its own paddle steamer Frenchman. From there Bridlington’s pleasure boat fleet grew steadily until its heyday between the 1930’s and 1950’s when at some points there were up to five large pleasure boats including the Yorkshire Belle, Boys own (later re-named The Flamborian), Thornwick, Bridlington Queen and Yorkshireman. There were also a number of smaller vessels such as Princess Marina, Britannia and many more.
The Yorkshire Belle is proud to have been built for and sailed from its home port of Bridlington on the East Yorkshire Coast every year since 1947.
M.V. Yorkshire Belle was built in 1947 by Cook, Welton and Gemmell’s shipbuilders in Beverley for a consortium including Messrs Crawford and Pockley of Bridlington. She was built to replace the original Yorkshire Belle which was built in 1938 also by Cook, Welton and Gemmell.
The first Yorkshire Belle was used by the Royal Navy during World War II on the River Humber as a patrol and boom defence vessel. Sadly on the 11th April 1941 she hit a mine and sank with all hands lost .
The current Yorkshire Belle was launched on Wednesday 22nd May 1947 and arrived in Bridlington just over a week later.
She was yard number 793 and was registered at 69 Gross Tons, 80 feet (24.4 Metres) in length and with a beam of 19 feet (5.8 Metres). She was fitted with twin Crossley 6 cylinder marine diesel engines. She was licensed to carry 207 passengers.
The Yorkshire Belle returned to Cook, Welton and Gemmell’s in March 1951 for the replacement of her Crossley engines with twin Gardner 8L3 diesel engines each producing 152 horsepower.
Ownership of the vessel changed many times in the 1950’s and 60’s as smaller shareholders within the consortium changed, but in 1969 the main shareholders changed and Mr John Cross (Jack) Pockley became the owner.
In 1973 this changed again when she was bought by J.T Bogg, Arthur Strike Cook and J.F Bogg on behalf of Bogg Holdings Ltd.
In around 1977 Bogg Holdings agreed a deal with British Rail Sealink for the Yorkshire Belle to be a stand in for the Humber ferry service between Hull and New Holland. She was used several times providing a service for foot passengers only, as clearly, she could not take vehicles like the paddle steamers which she was standing in for.
On the 1st of February 1982 the Yorkshire Belle was bought by Messrs Peter Richardson and Roy Simpson.
Up to 1987 she was more or less as built, apart the engines being replaced, so the then new owners, redesigned the superstructure and some of the internal layout, adding the fixed roof and enclosed seating amidships plus moving the toilets to the main deck, as they were previously below deck.
From the 1960’s the pleasure boat trade in Bridlington started to decline, and in mid-1998 the Yorkshire Belle became the last remaining pleasure boat still working from Bridlington when The Flamborian was sold to Croson Ltd of Dorset.
In early 2013 ownership passed completely to Mr Peter Richardson as Mr Roy Simpson retired from the business partnership.
This new venture for the Richardson family with son Sam also a qualified skipper, is the first time in the boat's history that she has been owned by just one individual.
The Yorkshire Belle was designed and built to operate from Bridlington and she has done so every season since her arrival in 1947, so by visiting Bridlington and taking a trip out to sea, you are helping to keep a piece of Bridlington’s history alive and long may she continue to do so with public support.