The Bolliton Jackdaws

Bridlington is the largest town on the Holderness coast – although its competition is pretty limited so that’s not saying much. Its moniker has changed several times over the years and includes that of Bolliton. During the research for my book about life on the coast I tripped over references to the Bolliton Jackdaws. So at the risk of a serious wigging from the residents of that good town, here’s the story of how Bridlington folk became known as Bolliton Jackdaws.

The Priory Church in Bridlington is one of the oldest parish churches in the East Riding. Naturally, such a venerable old lady needs a few repairs from time to time…which of us doesn’t? So, many years ago a number of workmen were employed to repair the church roof. To accomplish said repairs a very long timber beam needed to be taken into the church and then raised up to the rafters. The beam duly arrived at the west entrance to the church where the workmen found that its length was greater than the width of the doorway.


This hitch brought work to a sudden stop and the men huddled together to work out the puzzling question of how to get the beam into the church? They lit the blue touch paper of their collective brain and stepped back to watch the ideas fizzle.

“We could” they exclaimed,” saw the beam in half; cut a bit off each end; knock out a few of the stones either side of the doorway until it was wide enough…”

As this brainstorming session continued one of the workmen happened to look up at the steeple – a des. res. for birds and watched a jackdaw building its nest.  It would fly to its chosen crevice with the end of a long straw in its mouth. Once on the edge of the crevice it dragged the straw into its new home.

The workman seeing this miracle of engineering suddenly exclaimed,

“Did ya see that, lads ! Yon bird tewk ‘is straw in endways on.  That’s what we’re bahn to do. Let’s see if this beeam’ll gan in seeam way.”

The workman’s mates were fair betwattled by such inspiration. Immediately they turned the beam end- wise, and moved  it into the church without any difficulty at all.

From that time onwards all natives of Bridlington have been called “Bolliton Jackdaws.”

Naturally I don’t believe a word of the story. I know how much “nous” Yorkshire folk have so I expect it’s probably a scurrilous tale set about by those Lancastrians away over the Pennines.

Have a good weekend.