For some it will be synonymous with fish and chips from a certain outlet, others will link the name with Dracula – with a stronger than usual association this month – while for many the last quarter century has seen the town become the global capital of all things Goth.
All the while, it has never lost its appeal as a traditional seaside resort. But beyond all that, Whitby is home for those who live there, although in the 21st century it is a home so popular they share it continually with visitors, because unlike many British resorts it is never really out of season.
While Whitby’s traditional industry of fishing may be past its heyday, the town retains a strong sense of community, which perhaps goes unrecognised by many visitors.
The abbey, whalebones and Whitby swing bridge are all landmarks that have helped define the town visually through past generations and our historic photographs illustrate that while some things will always change, the essence of the port remains immediately recognisable.
Organisations like Coast and Vale Community Action help to provide the infrastructure to help the town to thrive, providing accommodation used by small businesses, community groups and others. The fact CaVCA keeps a relatively low profile does not diminish the impact of its work, helping other organisations make the best of their potential for the benefit of the community.
Flowergate Hall is one of Whitby’s more recent community ventures, set up to provide a venue for arts-based activities and an outlet for those with ambitions in that field. But it does far more, having been involved in answering the need for help during the Covid-19 pandemic and housing a well-used ‘community fridge’ to re-distribute food which would otherwise be wasted.
While Whitby will continue to draw in visitors – and this year’s will doubtless include many lured by the 125th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s novel, being celebrated with World Dracula Day later this month – it also remains a thriving community with its own distinct identity beyond the attractions that make it popular with visitors from other parts of Yorkshire and much further afield.