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Whitby had whaling, fishing, ship building, jet, alum and now tourism for its industry
The main twin piers of Whitby have always been very important to the town for sea defences and for its industrial past as a fishing town.
The first mention of Whitbys two piers dates from the time off Henry V111, monarch ordering their maintenance at the Royal cost, with timber being given out at the Kings woods for the use in connection with them.
In 1632 they were rebuilt of rough stones in framed timber.
Further works were undertaken 30 years later, but nothing very satisfactory is recorded regarding them until 1702, when funds were provided by act of Parliament for their maintenance. A duty of one halfpenny per cauldron was levied on all the ships at Newcastle, Sunderland, Blyth and their dependencies. With duty on coal, salt, corn etc. funding at Whitby, and the ships entering the port and the revenue at the time amounted to about £4000 per annum.
The passing tolls were abolished in 1861 and the harbour and subsequently managed by trustees.
The control of the piers and harbour was taken over by the town’s authority in 1906 and in the following year an extension 500 feet were commenced to reach the pier and these were completed in 1914.
A bridge on the present site of the present one spanned the River Esk in 1578 and in 1630 there was a plank footbridge connecting Bloghall and Church Street.
The man drawbridge look at the counter in 1766 lasted until 1833 and was re-placed by the two leaders swing bridge in 1835 and the present bridge was constructed in 1909, by the same company that built Blackpool tower.
The sea provided the main income for the town in ancient times and so it was important to keep the harbour and piers.
In 1753 to Whitby ships two embarked on the whale fishery and in 1776 the number was fifteen.
It is recorded that the most successful year in trade was in 1814, when eight ships took 172 whales, producing 1390 tonnes of oil and 42 tons of whale fins. This form of trade continued until 1837 in which year there were two vessels, one was wrecked and the other one unsuccessful.
If you look at Whitby from an industrial point of view, it is now many industries, long wooden ships would be built, providing the chief profit for the town not only because they were built there, but also from the point of view that they were manned by Whitby seamen. There were also other lines of professions which were necessary like, sail making, rope making excess to which provided good employment the town. Also the fitting out of the ships for each voyage also did a lot for the commercial prosperity of Whitby.
In the old days the alum works in the neighbourhood give employment to a large number of men. Alum was use in the Britain in the making of a mordant at Guisborough near Whitby in 1604 by the Chaloner family.
The textile and fabric businesses were depended on mordants to make sure that the dyes are retained and lasting after the fabrics are dyed. The main chemical components of a mordant are the alumina and sulphur, the two components found in the alum shale, aluminium silicates and iron pyrites (fools gold).
Also Whitby jet any other part of the 19th century did a great deal of the town regarding employment.
It was during the reign of Queen Victoria protocol dictated that only Jet jewellery was worn at court during periods of official mourning. The royal endorsement upgraded the status of Jet as the choice for mourning jewellery and greatly increased the expansion of the Jet industry in the late 1800's. Never was this more so than in the period following the death of Victoria's husband Prince Albert from typhoid fever in December 1861.
You can see that Whitby as relied on various industries over recent centuries for its existence. In present times it has now become one of the main tourist attractions of the East coast, and indeed tourism is now its backbone regarding employment.