It was good to see George and Justin today in my front room. They were discussing the plans for my renovation over the next few weeks. I’m feeling good about this and look forward to revealing my original fireplace that’s currently hidden by one that was fitted in the 1970’s.
There’ll also be some action on my floors and walls which are now completely dry. I’m delighted that some of them will be left un-plastered to reveal the natural beauty of my 250-year-old bricks some of which were hand made. Where they do use plaster it will be lime-based which was the traditional material occasionally supplemented by animal (horse) hair to act as a kind of binder.
I did have concrete on most of my walls and this was slowly destroying the beautiful bricks but this has been painstakingly removed and I can now breathe. The unexpected winter wait for planning consent has allowed them to dry very slowly and whilst there’s still some maintenance to do with them, they’re about ready for the plasterer but all of this will depend on the project plan and the ‘who does what and when’.
Just about a hundred years ago after the first war and into the 1920’s there had been a surge in visitors to Whitby largely initiated by the railway companies. My terrace of properties included a blacksmith workshop that later became a bakery on one side and a pub on the other. In fact, the pub and I myself were the same property, No 37. We only became e separate entities later when the pub closed down and eventually was cleared allowing for some modern buildings on either side but I’ll tell you about them at a later date.
In 1921 there were forms to be filled in and the dining table became a writing desk. Each occupant had to be declared for the census and there was some apprehension as my owner struggled with officialdom in the knowledge that errors or omissions could be punishable and whilst there would be no intention to mislead, the filling of official documents was always a challenge. It would be some months before the results would be declared and the 12,589 that was eventually published would include the local districts and seemed about right as the population remained somewhat static.
In the middle of the decade, we had a royal visitor in the form of Princess Mary. It was 1925 and the weather was cooling as November brought in the first signs of winter and my fire had been lit for some time in an attempt to warm the draughty room ready for the evening meal. My occupants were discussing the visitor who had spent the day formally opening the new Cottage Hospital built at Springhill. It had been commissioned and adapted as a fitting commemoration for the people of the town and district who had given their limbs, minds or lives in the defence of our country and became the War Memorial Hospital. It was originally sited not far from me on Church Street in 1896 but that was only a temporary facility that was moved to Grape Street in 1901. Much later in the century after many years of service, it would be replaced by a new modern facility and opened by Princess Margaret in 1979. Just an aside, Princess Mary was Princess Margaret’s aunt and she opened the original cottage hospital 50 years previously. In February 2018 it was agreed to redevelop the hospital site at a cost of £12 million into a “health and wellbeing hub” with an urgent care centre and 19 inpatient beds.
You do see life when you’re as old as I am!
Towards the end of the decade in 1929, there was some interest in Tunney-fish that were rumoured to have been seen offshore and it was with some excitement that the family gathered for their breakfast. Word was that a reward was being offered by one of the seafront businesses for one of the huge fish to be caught and brought ashore and bets were being laid as to who would be the lucky recipients.
On the 7th September 1929, as the evening meal was being served an excited child ran in to encourage all present to hurry to the harbour as the drifter “Attendant” steamed its way into the harbour with an enormous specimen hanging from its bow. The unlucky fish had been harpooned by the crew who had been targeting the Tunney-fish in an effort to present the ‘tangible proof’ of the fish being brought into a Yorkshire port which was required to claim the reward. A writer named Clarke then produced several articles for the angling press to encourage big-game anglers to come to Whitby and must have been quite successful as he was later presented with a citation and a miniature gold Tunney by the Harbour Commissioners.
It was a busy old decade nearly a century ago and more was to come.
Enjoy the snaps.
With Love…Little Yellow Cottage xx