My Dear Whitby Peeps and lots of wonderful folks worldwide, things are at a bit of a standstill as we wait for permissions for the work that is still to do; however, even after three centuries, I’m still transfixed by the beautiful view as the sun goes down over the harbour.
I’ve got to the stage now where I feel relaxed; removal of the thick concrete that had been smeared on my walls and had been sucking the life out of my three hundred-year-old hand-crafted bricks was causing me some significant distress and whilst the process of removal; like the extraction of a tooth, was not pleasant, at least it’s given the experts some inside knowledge of what has happened to my fabric. The result has been the production of detailed plans with appropriate materials to deliver them and these have been submitted for approval. I’m feeling somewhat exhausted but positive about the plans and look back at the transformations that have taken place over the years, things are looking decidedly ‘up’.
I’ve had minor alterations as the time has passed and a wonderful extension added that included a tiny kitchen, I think it was added around 1900 when a relatively unknown but great speaker was making his maiden speech in parliament. He was later to lead us through a very testing time but for now, Winston Churchill was an ex-army officer, ex-reporter and not even sure of his politics.
Queen Victoria had her Diamond Jubilee and there was bunting and long trestle tables in the street where children and adults could celebrate with shared food and drink. Next door was a pub so there was plenty of activity both inside and outside of its tiny front bar. In another 3 years and 7 months, we entered the Edwardian era and the ladies occupying my rooms were becoming increasingly vociferous about not having a vote and many a meal was consumed accompanied by lively debate.
In 1905, Whitby Urban District Council enacted a by-law that stated, ’All revenue raised from the harbours should be used to make improvements to them’. Little did they know that this same by-law would be used in over a hundred years time to allege that, ‘Scarborough Council has been using the excess income to swell the coffers of its general fund’ when the piers were deteriorating and match funding was required for a £4m DEFRA grant. Have a look at the full story here:
There were no TV’s or radio at the time so, at meal times, conversations would go on for some time and both world and local events would take turns to be the ‘hot topic’ and sometimes the two would combine.
I remember the smell of the evening meal drifting up my semi-spiral staircase as the family discussed the War. It had only been ‘official’ for only a few months and there was some controversy over the switching off of the navigation lights outside the harbour. The conversation was animated and exciting as the previous day’s activities were reviewed…
The SS Rohilla was in a horrendous storm and way off course when it hit the rocks. It was a hospital ship and was on its way from Scotland to Dunkirk. There were several astonishing facts.
Mary Roberts from Liverpool survived for a second time in her life as she’d been on the Titanic two years earlier. Clearly, a lady who should buy a lottery ticket.
The RNLI learned a lot from that night and oar-propelled lifeboats would be on the wane in favour of engine based craft.
The people of Whitby showed their exceptional public spirit and humanity yet again by initially lowering a lifeboat from the cliffs but the storm was too strong so, not to be outdone, they formed a human chain into the sea hauling survivors from the boiling waters and pulling them along the chain to safety whilst the ones on shore took them to their homes to look after them.
Two months later on 16th December 1914, the Imperial German Navy attacked Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool. Their target at Whitby was the coast guard station but the shells were wide and hit the abbey. The war had been headlines in newspapers and many miles away in Europe until this happened. Now it was real and there were many nervous people sleeping in my bedrooms after that night and all meals were taken with a backdrop of conversation that included the previous day’s headlines and how ‘our boy’s bravery’ was winning the war. It would take four bloody years of course but the bunting eventually came out and there was dancing in all of the streets of Whitby including Church Street just outside my door.
There may be some minor repairs and wiring taking place over the next four weeks but now it’s a waiting game for me and time for George to look at light switches and other accessories that will be suitable for a three-hundred-year-old lady. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Finally, last week, there was a wonderful surprise as some wet and rotten hardboard was removed to let my wall breath. My excited building crew found a lovely little artefact illustrating my recent past in the form of a note left by some thoughtful person nearly 50 years ago.
It was written on the inside of a window/hatch and is another quirky feature that I’m revealing as work continues.
Take care and give me a wave if you pass…
Yours with love,
The Little Yellow Cottage
PS: Please feel free to comment below – I love comments…LYC x