Dominated by the ruins of the 13th century Abbey, set at the point of North Yorkshire where wild moorland meets the sea on the Esk Estuary nestles the ancient seaport of Whitby.
The former whaling port with its red tiled roofs,
narrow cobbled streets, steep hills and quaint fishermen's cottages descending in tiers down to the harbour edge, lies claim to a fine heritage.
The Abbess Hilda founded the Abbey in 657. At the Synod of Whitby in 664 the Celtic and Roman Christians reached an historic agreement on the date of Easter.
Whitby reached its heyday as a port in the 18th century. The great whaling Captains William Scoresby Senior and son famed for their daring Arctic expeditions,
scientific research into magnetism and the invention of the crows nest were Whitby sons and true.
James Cook the Navigator and Explorer first learnt the art of seamanship whilst apprenticed to ship-owner John Walker in whose house he lived in Grape Lane.
For generations, the local fishermen have sought a precarious living from the North Sea using the traditional boats of the region the clinker-built 'coble'. Cobles are mainly engaged in long lining for cod in winter and potting for crabs and lobsters in spring and netting salmon in summer.
From approx. 1890 to the mid 1950s there had always been the annual seasons of herring fishing .The local fishing fleet being swelled with boats from Scotland and Cornwall as they followed the 'silver darlings' the herring shoals down the North Sea Coast. A Service for the Blessing of Boats on the occasion of the Herring Fishing Season addressed by the Lord Archbishop of York was annually held on the Harbour Side.
Whitby has long been famous for its Kippers and they can still be purchased from Fortunes shop situated in the narrow cobbled Henrietta Street, on the older East Side of the town. Next to the shop stands the curing- house, where herrings are split, gutted, soaked in brine and then slowly smoked over a fire of oak chippings in the Traditional manner until they are silvery gold in colour.
In the 1940s as inshore fish stocks dwindled and the open cobles were too small to be out at sea for any length of time, the larger motor driven keel boat was developed.
The annual 'Blessing of the Boats' is still held, but with the decline of the fishing industry fewer boats attend the Service each year. The numbers of the inshore coble fishermen continues to dwindle and only a handful are still licensed to net the salmon in the mouth of the Estuary. Fewer of the older coble fishermen now frequent the local pubs, and a 'Coblers Monday' is a thing of the past. It was from the practice of some Whitby coble fishermen not to put to sea after a weekend's over indulgence, but instead returning to the Towns hosteries for a reviving 'hair of the dog', known locally as a 'Coblers Monday', that the group derived its name.