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Sons of Neptune Scarborough



How it all started...


While a group of friends regularly enjoyed swimming in the North Sea off the beaches of Scarborough in the late seventies they started to notice some changes, the clarity of the water started deteriorating, the disappearance of eels & crabs and the alarming build up of pollution.


In 1983 the group decided that action had to be taken before it was too late. Being in the sea regularly they were the first in the country to notice that as the sea was becoming unfit for marine life there could only be one cause - and that at times had been staring them in the face in the Town's two bays - raw sewage! Styling themselves the 'Sons of Neptune' they then started what turned out to be a 15 year campaign to stop untreated sewage being discharged into the sea.


Back in 1983 they soon realised that the campaign had to focus on awareness - to convince the public of the danger in the bathing waters and on the shore. As most did not go into the sea, how could they be aware? The Sons were frequently vilified for scaremongering and frightening visitors away. One local Councillor even went to the press calling for the public to boycott the businesses of some of the Sons! In the 1980's there was little environmental awareness and this goes some way to explain why the campaign took 15 years to achieve its goals.


While the Sons appreciated they would have to change minds at the highest level in the Water Industry they could hardly have anticipated that they would be in immediate confrontation with the local Borough Council and later with national Government under Margaret Thatcher. Having a reputation for tenacity the Sons filed formal complaints against the UK Government with the EU which were registered and led to the UK being compelled by Directive to ensure that no sewage sludge was discharged into the sea. This effectively meant that sewage treatment had to be provided and evidence which the Sons obtained as to extended times of survival of sewage bacteria in the sea made it clear that full treatment of sewage would be required to enable bathing waters to comply with EU Bathing Waters Directives.

Founder members

Founder members of the team seen in 1986
Marketing Executive Bryan Dew; Lawyer and group leader Freddie Drabble; Schoolmaster Geoff Nunn; Master Mariner Capt Sydney Smith MBE; Bookmaker Cecil Ridley; Podiatrist Author & Broadcaster Charles White; Chartered Accountant Chris Found.

Capt Sydney Smith remained an honorary member until his death in 2000. Geoff Nunn on retirement moved to the Lake District a few years ago and whilst his support remains as strong as ever Stuart Carlisle has joined the team to cover for Geoff in his absence.Although the campaigning done by the Sons could hardly have been less important and despite the pressures of finding time for a stream of letters; media interviews; lobbying authorities and even featuring in several TV programmes the group still managed to have a lot of fun over the years uniting as a group of friends to champion such a worthy cause.The achievements of the Sons of Neptune have ensured that the bathing waters throughout the UK can be enjoyed by this and future generations without fear of infection.

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