Monday, December 9, 2013


Anyone who has been to Whitby will know the 'yards' that lie off the main streets such as Church Street.
This street has of course the famous 'Arguments Yard', not because people quarrelled down there but there was a Mr Thomas Argment who once lived here in 1650.  Yards came about very simply over the years from the Middle Ages .Firstly, houses would be built along the streets, with large gardens behind, and then plots of land in the garden would be sold, Mr.Argment developed 5 plots in his garden, and if the 19th century photos of Frank Sutcliffe are to be believed the yards had become scenes of poverty, but also where the people of Whitby would gossip and stand awhile, the fishermen striking in their clothes children sitting patiently on the front door steps.  The first photo shows a short cut we often take down to the quay, to The Magpie restaurant and the 'Jolly Sailors' pub, favourite haunts!
Bakehouse Yard, was of course the public bake house you took your pies and bread to when you had no oven, for a few pence they would be baked, and the decoration on the pies would mark out yours. The 'Smugglers Inn' pub on Baxtergate  is empty but you can peer into its funny little rooms, and ponder about it being 'Loggerheads Yard', the explanation is quite simple, loggerhead was a piece of nautical furniture and the passageway was once called Doctor's Lane, note the ship's figurehead as well, I think that this little pub is the oldest in Whitby

The collapse of house on the East bank earlier this year.

Even our small cottage has a history, situated in its yard with a date above the two doors of 1736 with the initials R.M.B., apparently according to the book I have been consulting 'Whitby Yards' by Alan Whitworth, in earlier times it was called 'Georgian Cottage, and the one next door 'Dolphin Cottage', which it still is.  He mentions bringing a tour guide round the yards and being greeted by the two old ladies who lived in the cottages (maybe one of them was Mary next door) who would invite the small groups in for a cup of tea.  One of the 'joys' is the appropiation of space in the yard ;).  Above us up the steps so to speak lives 'Fraser' whose broad Scottish accent I have difficulty in deciphering, but we get told off occasionally about the placement of the dustbin I spy there, and also Mary reads the 'riot act' on where I put my pot plants, such is the joy of living in the confined space of a yard....

We are going up for Christmas, something I am looking forward to, the family will be visited on the way back on the other side of Yorkshire and we shall have to stop overnight at a Travel lodge somewhere.


  1. Thelma, I agree that Whitby is indeed an interesting place and you have made it sound so lovely. I fear the wind will be whistling round there this Christmas though so keep warm.

  2. Yes it can be very cold, and they are still clearing up along the West side quay road as well, as the high tide came in to the lower shops.

  3. What an interesting post. Keith and I like Whitby, though we haven't explored enough of the "behind the scenes" bits and mainly just know the yards from the Frank Sutcliffe photos. Lovely to find out some history about your cottage too. I am sure you will have a lovely time there at Christmas, and joining your family at their new home.

  4. Hi Jennie, Whitby just oozes history of course and is well covered by many books. The house in Todmorden is in the midst of builders, new windows, rewiring, plumbing etc, bit like what the cottage went through, my son in law learnt the art of restoration there ;)