North York Moors CAM

 

Friday 9th March 2001

Weather: Mild, cloudy then sunny

Whitby - a bit of history


 

Looking across to Tate Hill and above, East Cliff, from Pier Road near the bandstand and fish quay
on the west side of Whitby Harbour - at this time of day it was a bit grey and dull

The stone jetty opposite (one of four in Whitby Harbour) is Burgess Pier
- at one time it played host to the Whitby lifeboat (now stationed at the nearby Fish Pier)

On 3rd February, 1861, tragedy struck when the lifeboat was launched from here
and a freak wave off West Pier upturned the vessel - out of its thirteen-strong crew, twelve perished,
the only survivor being
Henry Freeman who was testing a new buoyancy aid - a cork waistcoat

 

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Even though today's weather is dull to start with, at least it's mild and Spring is in the air
- this Herrring Gull seems to be getting in the mood, as do the flower boxes outside the Magpie Cafe

 

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Over the 'swing-bridge' in Church Street is the White Horse & Griffin

Bult in 1861, this public house was once a popular meeting place for master mariners and the local gentry
who met for both business and pleasure

Charles Dickens once stayed here and recorded that oyster-shell grottoes were a feature

Go up the alleyway where above it says 'GOOD STABLING' to see the plaque on the wall which reads . . .

 

The 50-mile journey to York took two days

A little further on along Church Street is a narrow passage leading to . . .

 

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. . . Arguments Yard

Unlike the name suggests, it's not a place to meet for a quarrel!
It is named after Thomas Argument who built a cottage on Church Street
with its back garden running down to the harbourside
To raise some more income he built five more cottages in the garden area which he then rented out

These little alleyways are well worth exploring if ever you visit Whitby
- they are usually referred to as 'yards' - you never know what little gem you'll find down them

 

Another alley nearby leads down to a sandy beach (if the tide's low)
- from here there's a good view across the harbour to the fish quay on the west side

A family of swans are becoming very common in these waters, their population is steadily rising each year
- today we also saw a great many cormorants, but the seals which often visit weren't about

 

Looking across Tate Hill Sands towards the twin piers at the harbour mouth from Burgess Pier

 

Church Stairs ( better known as the '199 steps' ) lead up to the top of East Cliff
- running parallel with them is the cobble-stoned 'Donkey Road' (above) which originally was used for
processional purposes on 'feast and high days'

 

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At the top is St Mary's Church and Caedmon's Cross

The Parish Church of St Mary's originates from about AD1110

Caedmon's Cross was erected in 1898 to commemorate Caedmon, the first English poet
- the Cross is carved from Northumbrian sandstone in the Celtic design with the figures
of Christ, David, Abbess Hilda and Caedmon in panels

 

From the weathered headstones in the churchyard of St Mary's we get a good view to the west side of the harbour,
with above, the hotels and guest houses on West Cliff and Sandsend Ness beyond

 

Back down at the harbour the dredger, viewed from the 'swing-bridge', keeps the waters clear

 

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More narrow alleyways lead to 'hidden' craftshops and colourful, quaint cottages

 

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The Old Smuggler - over the low archway it says, 'DUCK OR GROUSE'

 

Follow this alley back down to the harbourside and the brightly-painted fishing boats - the sun's just coming out

 

Back up near the top of West Cliff is this viewpoint - the Spion Kop

Here we look south across the harbour towards the swing-bridge as the skies begin to turn blue

It was from this exact spot in 1893, during his holiday visit to Whitby,
that Abraham (Bram) Stoker was influenced to write his famous novel, Dracula . . .

 

. . . as he gazed across towards the red-roofed cluster of houses clinging to the side of Tate Hill
and up to St Mary's Church and the Abbey ruins above . . .

. . . the rest is history

 

I wonder what the great man himself might have thought of it all . . .

 



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