Whitby is a historic port town in North Yorkshire on the north-east coast of England. Although still very much a working fishing port, it now enjoys an economy supported by tourism. Whitby can be broadly separated into two parts, the East Cliff and West Cliff.
One of the attractions for both tourists and geologists is the interesting local Geology. A great many fossils have been found in the cliffs surrounding Whitby including complete skeletons of pterodactyls. Ammonite fossils can be found on the shore or, more commonly, purchased as a souvenir. Whitby is also famous for Whitby Jet and there are several shops specialising in jewellery made from this, often set in silver. Queen Victoria favoured jet as her mourning jewellery which led to a huge increase in the popularity of jet in the nineteenth century.
Situated on the East Cliff, the ruins of Whitby Abbey (and St Mary's Church) is outlined dramatically against the sea. To reach the abbey there are 199 steps up the cliffside. The 199 steps are famous enough that many who make the climb can be heard counting on the way up.
As well as the Abbey and the Church, East Cliff contains many pubs and eateries aimed at tourists. Whitby fish and chips from the local fishermen is a popular meal with visitors and many of the pubs (as well as chip shops) will serve this dish. East Cliff is also home to the smokehouses that produce the local Whitby "kipper", a smoked herring often served as breakfast. The "Duke of York" pub overlooks the harbour and is perhaps the most popular with visitors and locals due to the beautiful views out to sea. Many of the pubs serve "Black Dog" beer, a local Real ale named after the Dracula legend and brewed in the town.
West Cliff has several nautical landmarks commemorating the seafaring history. There is the statue of Captain James Cook who sailed from the town and an arch made from whalebone commemorating the once large whaling industry. In the shadow of the arch, there is the "Stoker Seat" a bench looking out over the harbour where writer Bram Stoker is said to have sat while writing parts of his novel Dracula.
The Dracula Legend
On the East Cliff side of Whitby is the Dracula museum as large portion of Bram Stoker's famous novel was set in Whitby, describing Dracula's arrival in Britain on a ship washed ashore in the harbour, and how Lucy watched from the churchyard as the sun set over the nearby headland of Kettleness. Stoker's story incorporated various pieces of Whitby folklore, including the beaching of the Russian ship Dmitri, which became the basis of Demeter in the book.
The Dracula Society is based in Whitby because of the historic link and organises many events, from masquerade balls to the "Dracula Tours" of the town throughout the year.
Whitby Regatta occurs annually for three days in August. It includes events such as a funfair on the pier, police dog demonstrations, fireworks and military displays. The rebuilt Endeavour, a replica of the ship saled by Cook, returns to the port for the Regatta.
For several decades, the town has hosted the Whitby Folk Week, a celebration of folk music. This currently includes around 600 different events in various venues and pubs throughout the town.
Whitby also hosts the bi-annual Whitby Gothic Weekend at the Metropole Hotel and the Spa Pavilion This is a gothic music festival and regularly brings 3000+ goths to Whitby turning the town into a "sea of black clothing". This event has been running for over 10 years and is immensely popular with both the visitors and the locals as it brings much trade into the town outside of the traditional "holiday season".
The town has plays host to Musicport, an annual world music festival.
- Captain James Cook was born on October 27 1728 in the village of Marston close to Whitby.
- In St Mary's Church is a very fine memorial to General Peregrine Lascelles. He was a native of Whitby and died in 1772.
- Captain Scoresby, inventor of the crow's nest (the lookout post atop a ship's mast) was a Whitby native
- Edmund Crowsely (1604-1643), local playwright.
- Official town website
- Whitby Gazette - THE local paper
- The Endeavour
- Whitby Gothic Weekend
- The Whitby Dracula Society
- Whitby Regatta
- Whitby Piers