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Whitby memories.

AS SOON as the sun comes out on a weekend, thousands of people head to Whitby.

From chomping on vinegar-soaked chips to climbing the famous 199 steps, days out at the coastal favourite provide memories for generations of Teessiders.

A new book, Whitby Through Time, takes a look back at the seaside town's history.

Author Robin Cook says its popularity lies in its "picturesque setting" and that "much of the old town has been preserved to the present day, and not too much, thankfully, has been done to spoil its original appearance".

Whitby's history covers important events in the life of the Church of England including the role of Abbess Hilda, the establishment of the abbey, the famous Synod of Whitby in AD 664 and St Mary's parish church on top of the East Cliff.

Other important aspects of Whitby's heritage are the writings of the poet Caedmon, who died in AD 680 and was known as "the first English poet"; explorer Captain James Cook, from Middlesbrough, who lived in Whitby; and the contribution of the Scoresbys in putting Whitby at the forefront of international Arctic whaling between 1753 and 1837.

Sometimes the fishing boats would accidentally catch a shark in their nets. This Ross postcard from July 12, 1907 shows a group of locals taking a look at the so-called monster shark.

Many fossilised prehistoric animals have been found on the cliffs around Whitby including the 180-million-year-old Ichthyosaurus Crassimanus, which is seven metres long, found in the cliffs near Hawsker and displayed on the wall of Whitby Museum in Pannett Park.

Walking up the 199 steps up to St Mary's church and the abbey has proved a challenge for many a child keen to check the number is correct.

This Ross postcard shows an Edwardian congregation leaving St Mary's church after a Sunday morning service. To the right of the picture is the ancient "donkey road" up to the abbey called Church Lane on this postcard.

And, of course, a visit to Whitby is not complete without a glimpse of the famous abbey.

The original monastery was built by Abbess Hilda in AD 657 and became the burial ground of the Northumbrian royal house.

It was the venue for the important Synod of Whitby in AD 664 which determined how Easter should fall in accordance with the timetable of the Catholic church.

A new abbey was begun in 1078 but the remains we see today date from around 1220 and took more than a century to complete.

Parts of the abbey collapsed in the 18th century and the main tower fell in 1830.

The old postcard, which shows the Abbey Cross dating from the 14th century, is a picture from 1913.

| Whitby Through Time by Robin Cook, is priced PS14.99 and published by Amberley. | TOMORROW: 50 years since The Beatles first played on Teesside.
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2013
Words:476
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