Whitby Civic Society-Georgian Walk
President Mr M Dawson
Vice President Mr B Atkinson
Chairman-Mr G Dawson
vice Chair Mrs B Bayliss
Secretary Mr D. James
Treasurer Ms L Thompson
At the top of the steep road known as Khyber Pass we enter narrow Cliff Street, where several fine buildings show Georgian doors with spider's-web fanlights. When Flowergate is reached we turn right, and Georgian shops and dwelling houses continue as we make our way up to St Hilda's Terrace with Pannett Park on the left. The houses are not a true terrace as seen in Bath, as plots were mostly sold individually and a wide variety of house designs can be seen. These represented some of the best addresses in Georgian Whitby: at the top of the hill they are comparatively modest two-storey buildings but further down the hill they are four-storey mansions with steps leading up a steep bank to imposing doorways. This results in their roofs being almost level as seen from the roundabout at the top of the hill. One of the houses we pass is a recent recipient of a Blue Plaque as the childhood home of Sir William Clarkson, one of the founders of the Royal Australian Navy.
At the roundabout, once the home of Union Mill and its five-sailed windmill, we turn downhill and either walk round the outside of the Park or cut down through its beautiful gardens to Bagdale. Here we turn left and pass many more typical Georgian properties, those on the left built up a steep bank and including the former home of the explorer William Scoresby. When we reach the Catholic church we enter Baxtergate. Baxtergate is now a street of shops but the upper parts of the buildings show their origins; the Black Swan, the George Hotel and the premises of Yorkshire Law are especially fine Georgian buildings. Leaving Baxtergate we cross the River Esk by the swing bridge, turn right and are amongst more fine Georgian houses in Grape Lane, once called 'Grope Lane' because it is built on a curve and can be dark. Here is the house where Captain Cook lived and studied seamanship in Whitby and here our journey ends.
There are many more fine Georgian buildings in Whitby that we do not visit on this tour including the Town Hall and the Mission to Seamen, but we usually find this is long enough for one session. We hope that the sights they have seen will inspire visitors to explore more of the town and to discover more of its history.
Georgian Walks To many people Whitby is associated with the Abbey of St Hilda, shipbuilding, Captain Cook or Victorian jet jewellery and even fish and chips but Whitby is also very lucky to have many beautiful Georgian buildings. The Civic Society has devised a walk to show some of their diversity in a friendly and gentle manner and conducted tours take place during Heritage Weekends and during Civic Society weeks. Over the past few years we have also arranged special tours for groups of visitors from other towns. Typical Georgian houses with their symmetrical design of a central door with a fanlight and decorated door case, double six-pane sash windows and shallow roofs occur in many streets of the town, although some of these characters may be missing or have been modified over the years. They were often the houses of wealthy ship owners and ship builders but are now often made into flats.
The walk begins at the Whalebone Arch next to Captain Cook's statue on the West Cliff and from that vantage point we look across the harbour to observe a host of landmarks which tell the story of the towns development: the Abbey founded in the mid-seventh century , the fishermen's cottages straggling up the cliff on both sides of the harbour and the whalebone arch reminding us of Whitby's whaling past. The cottages date from well before the Georgian period up to the present day but efforts have been made in recent times to preserve their overall character.
The twin piers at the mouth of the River Esk point North - a surprise to many people as this is an East coast town - but we turn our backs to the sea and note the Royal Hotel and a row of Victorian houses. Railway magnate George Hudson bought the land here in the 1850s, hoping to benefit from the tourist trade generated by the development of the railways, and arranged for the construction of a number of buildings intended as lodging houses. The walk takes us inland past the Victorian buildings on the right, which include the house where Lewis Carroll stayed on his numerous visits to the town.