WHITBY – the town gets its name from the Old Norse for “white settlement”.

A fascinating town straddling the 2 banks of the River Esk as it meets the North Sea on the North Yorkshire coast.  It holds so many memories for me.  I grew up on the North Yorkshire Moors not many miles away.  I visited many times as a child and, since moving to the south of England many years ago I make a point of re-visiting my memories and the town’s treasures whenever I return to the area.

When I think of WHITBY I think of so many things:

  • of its fishing fleet, of the long and proud history of its lifeboats and lifeboat men and women; and of the delicious fish and chips served in Trenchers and the Magpie;
  • of Captain Cook sailing in and out of the harbour and learning his seafaring skills on the coasters plying coal along the English coast;
  • of the Abbey and its Abbess Hilda, and of thegreat  Whitby Synod held there in 664 A.D.;
  • of the 7th Century cowherd poet, Caedmon, who, the 8th Century historian, Bede, tells us, learnt to compose one night in a dream.  As far as is known, Caedmon is the earliest of English poets;
  • of the church of St.Mary on East Cliff with its unique 18th Century box pews;
  • of its jet mines, and the crafted intensely black and highly polished jewellery made from this fossilised wood ;
  • of alum, essential to the dying processes of the wool trade – medieval England’s primary industry.  The production of English alum was for centuries concentrated  in and around the town;
  • of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941), the pioneer photographer, who has left behind him a unique collection of images of a disappearing time.before industrialisation and mechanisation.
  • of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and the myths which have grown up around his (fictional) landfall near the churchyard of St.Mary’s on  East Cliff;
  • and, of course, of the Dracula cult fostered and nourished by the modern-day Goths who frequent the town at regular intervals – in particular for their twice yearly alternative music festival – WGW – Whitby Goth Weekend.

The town’s fascination for me has led me to photograph it widely and also to create a number of line and wash drawings, some of which I reproduce below . . .





An excellent resource to discover more about this fascinating town can be found at …



7 thoughts on “WHITBY

  1. Brilliant…very well thought out and put together. I love the bit about Whitby. Did you really see a polar bear floating by in Greenland?! Your paintings are great. Carry on the blog. Very enjoyable….Roland!!! ?


  2. I love these drawings, particularly the top one and the third one down. They’re all have a ‘timeless’ quality.


  3. Love those pen and ink drawings with watercolour……takes me back to the Sunday School trips to Whitby… from St Nicholas Church Guisborough N Yorkshire…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe my own first trip there was also on a Sunday School outing – by train,before the coast railway line was demolished.. Wonder if they still have such outings?


  4. Oh please Roland, let me be a pain.:) WHITBY is indeed Norse. Whit stands for white; BY stands for village. You have a lot of names up that way ending with BY = VILLAGE.

    I am very taken by the ‘line and wash drawings’, they are great. Also your history from Whitby delights. I visited there often when I lived in Illley. It was wonderful to be by the see again and a harbour.


    • Many thanks for your comments, Miriam. If you search on my blogsite (you may already have done so) you will fond several other pictures and poems about Whitby – my favourite coastal town in the UK – near to where I grew up.


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