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Kit Brown in Stone

Mike Wilson, Local Author and Historian

In 1995, I was fortunate enough to play the part of Kit Brown in "Come Hell or High Water," the Bridlington community play. The play was created with the professional help of Remould Theatre of Hull, now no more. Rupert Creed and Richard Hayhow were the writers of the play and during the time of research, writing and rehearsal I got to know more and more about Kit Brown. After twenty years, my gratitude for that opportunity is still great. I have never had so much fun and the experience was out of this world. I had never acted before, had little knowledge of the workings of theatre and was not particularly interested in actually acting.

However, a few months after the production of the play, I receivbed a telephone call from the company who were responsible for the refurbishment of Bridlington's south foreshore.

I was told that £2m was to be spent on the venture and that part of the project included something of the maritime history of Bridlington. My name had been given to them as someone who had informatioin that may be of use to them. Indeed I had, because I was currently holding all the research material used to create the play, which nbaturally contained much information about the history of the people. Apparently I had to thank Avril Coult, of Remould, for my name being given to them.

I offered what help I could.

Some weeks later, I was contacted again and told that the writer for the project, Mel Goodinig, was comiing to Bridlington and I was asked to provide him with what information he needed.

Mel duly arrived at we both went to The Cricketers, near my office, The Print Shop, and there I showed him the material I held. Naturally, I was still very enthusiastic about the play and told Mel the story about Kit Brown. Mel asked for photocopies of some of the material and I provided him with these. He seemed delighted with the quality and quantity of the material from which he could choose.

Shortly afterwards, I received a postcard from Mel thanking me for my time and the material. His words gave me the impression that he had obtained material that would be of use to him.

Some months later, a friend called into my office, and during conversation mentioned that he'd seen Kit Brown's name in stone. Within minutes of his departure, I locked up the office and went off to the south side to find the location.

Eventually, I found it. You cannot imagine the emotion I felt that day, seeing my hero's name and his deeds recorded for ever.

I returned to the office and contacted the local press. I suggested they might like a photo with me, having played Kit Brown, and Debbie and Marie Greenwood, direct descendants of Kit Brown. The result was that pictures and articles appeared in Bridlington Free Press, Bridlington Gazette & Herald, Yorkshire Post and Hull Daily Mail.

On a cold January morning, we were also filmed for Calendar by freelance cameraman Barry Jacklyn.

Some of the newspaper reports were, to say the least, a little extravagant in their claims about me. For instance, one report said I had written a book about the resort's harbour life. I have compiled a book on the boats which have used Bridlington harbour (Any More For Sailing?), but a feature of the volume is that very few people are mentioned. The same report says I am a "part-time historian," but that's not now I view myself, although I am very interested in the history of Bridlington. Oh yes, the heading "Actor who played Kit Brown . . ." Well, I did take the part, but acting? I'm not sure of that!

However, the end result is that Kit Brown's name and deeds are now in stone as a permanent memorial and I am sure that the Maritime Mile will, on completion, be a great added attraction to Bridlington.

This was written in January 1997.