FILEY has long been a popular destination for Bradfordians wanting a sea air pick-me-up.

With its glorious wide golden beach, elegant Victorian houses and well-kept gardens, the resort on the North Yorkshire coast offers bracing walks, a variety of shops and, of course, fish and chips.

But how did the town develop into the popular place it is today?

Yorkshire-born author Wendy Rhodes, who lived in Filey for many years, has delved into its beginnings and history through the ages in her book Filey, A History of the Town and its People.

She traces the town from Roman times, unearthing fascinating tales and interesting facts along the way.

The earliest documented evidence of the community comes from the 1068 Domesday Book, in which it is documented as a very small village occupied by less than 50 people. It adds that the village was ‘worth a reasonable income, with access to good quality timber which was ideal for construction.’

Its name could have originated from the word ‘Fucelac’ meaning where the birds are’ (and there are plenty in Filey), however this is disputed. It may have been dervived from ‘Fyvele’, as it was written in the 13th century, with two possible meanings - ‘home of the fairies’ or ‘five clearings.’

The town’s well-known landmark Filey Brigg or ‘Bridge’ as it was formerly known, has long been a magnet for visitors, writes Wendy, who goes by the name of WM Rhodes. ‘In mid-Victorian times, if as a visitor, you wanted to go to the Brigg, you would be besieged with a dozen boys asking ‘carriage sir, take you to the Brigg for a shilling!’ And they would be back to collect you in two hours time.’

While those days are gone, the dangers of the rocky peninsula have not disappeared, as the book describes deaths that have occurred around it.

One of the ‘saddest cases’ happened in October 1871, when a doctor was shooting birds with his two sons when one of the boys was washed into the sea by a huge wave. The family dog went in after him, but placed his paws on the boy’s body causing him to sink.

A sad tale, of course, but I can’t help feeling sorry for the birds they were targeting. Thank goodness times have changed.

The book warns of the dangers of the sea and its treacherous tides, and recalls stories of many people who have lost their lives over the years.

In common with many towns in the 19th century, people came to take the waters, and Filey’s long-gone spa was said to have healing qualities. Its location, on the edge of the Brigg (also known as Carr-Naze) was ‘not a place to seek out for the faint-hearted’.

Packed with photographs and illustrations, this informative paperback relays important events such as the battle of The Bonhomme Richard, fought off Filey Bay in September 1779, the central character being Captain John Paul Jones, ‘a little man who attracted the attention of two continents.’

I had not heard of him or the battle, and it was fascinating to read about the intense fight not far offshore, watched by a huge crowd of people who had gathered on the cliffs.

Other interesting chapters examine Filey’s lifeboat, railway, churches and pubs. It tells the history of the town’s churches and the influence that the Methodists had on the community

Quirky and curious items include the flither girls - wives, widows and daughters who hunted in all places and weathers for fishing bait to give to their menfolk.

And the local workhouse in Hunmanby, which took in paupers from around the parish including Filey.

If you’re a regular or occasional visitor, this easy to dip in and out of book is a joy to read.

*Filey A History of the Town and its People by WM Rhodes is available from Amazon priced £12.99.