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Khyber Pass, the steep road leading up to the West Cliff from the Pier, was cut in the cliff in 1848 when George Hudson, the "Railway King", developed the estate. Two thirds of the way up, a tunnel leads out on to the Cragg, giving a gull’s eye view of the old town and harbour.
At the top of the Khyber Pass is Cliff Street, which once had a Georgian Theatre, an inn famous for smuggled tobacco, and Whitby House of Correction with its underground cells. This street leads into Flowergate, which is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as "Flore". At the bottom, where it is steep and narrow, is the photographic studio showing the beautiful photographs of F. M. Sutcliffe, one of the
pioneers of the camera and now world-famous. Much of the property is old, and the narrow yards leading off are interesting. Notice the well-worn stone mounting block on the pavement. It is near Brunswick Street, which has some very old cottages on the left, It goes down into Victoria Square, from which runs narrow Baxtergate.
Brunswick Street, originally Skate Lane, had a theatre until 1823 and two public wells. The Catholic Church, the Methodist Church and the Church of St. John are all mid-nineteenth century buildings.
Baxtergate, dating back to 1401, is one of the principal streets and, although much altered, still contains some old buildings. Notice "Ye Olde Smuggler`”, originally the Old Ship Launch Inn and said to have a secret passage to the harbour. The weather-worn figure on the wall outside is thought to have come from a wreck. The inn was a favourite haunt of smugglers. The street is built on a sand bank, and old mooring posts have been found during excavations. Next to the Post Office is a fine old house in which once lived Jervis Coates, the first builder of large wooden ships in Whitby.
Down the Angel Yard is the principal coaching inn of old Whitby; its Assembly Room was the meeting place of the town’s Georgian gentry. Towards the end of the street, a bank and shops stand on the site of the old Temperance Hall. Next to this was the Chapel of St. Ninian, which in the 14th century was a "Bridge Chapel" at the head of the first wooden bridge over the river. The present Church of St. Ninian was built in 1778. Notice on the wall, over the shoe shop near the end of the street, the faded sign "Whitby Jet Wholesale Merchant".
Turning right from the bottom of Brunswick Street, there is Bagdale, a fourteenth century road and formerly "Backdale". There is a quaint raised causeway on one side and some splendid Georgian houses. The Quaker Burial Ground, consecrated in 1659, contains the bones of many prominent men of old Whitby. The famous whaling skipper and Arctic navigator, William Scoresby, lived at No. 13.
Bagdale Hall, at the junction of Spring Hill, was the home of the influential Conyers family in the 16th century. The Bushell family, which followed, built the splendid old Hall at Ruswarp, 1 miles up the river, in 1603. A son of this prosperous ship owner married a daughter of Sir Thomas Fairfax, Cromwell’s Chief of Staff, and was responsible for the betrayal of Scarborough Castle to Cromwell’s army. Bagdale Beck, which is now enclosed but runs under Victoria Square, was navigable by boats bringing grain to the old brewery.
To the right of Bagdale is Pannett Park, with the Museum and Art Gallery. The name comes from County Alderman R. E. Pannett, and the Museum was opened in1931. The Chapman Wing (1954) houses the Cook and Scoresby section and includes model ships and books on shipping. The Museum was created by the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society, founded in 1822, which first rented two rooms in Baxtergate. The number of visitors in 1824 was 300, Today’s yearly average is 40,000. Famous members of the Society have included William Scoresby, Robert Stephenson, and F. M. Sutcliffe. The society organises lectures and Elm shows, and publishes books of local interest.
From Bagdale, on the A17l to Gainsborough, is Down dinner Hill, with Chubb Hill leading to the right, passing the floral clock in Pannett Park and into St. Hilda’s Terrace. This has some line Georgian houses. Skinner Street, running from the top of Flowergate to the West Cliff Esplanade, has some good shops. Dating from the 18th century, it is not really part of the ancient town.
COVERING 80 acres, and standing at the mouth of the river Esk, the harbour has an entrance exposed to northerly winds, across which the Hood tide sets from west to east. At the highest spring tide there is 20ft. of water at the entrance, Alongside the Fish Quay, 700ft. long, there is from 3ft. to 8ft. of water at low tide. Above the bridge there is a 300ft quay and a small dock, often full of cobles.
The Endeavour Wharf, built in 1964, has 700ft of frontage and a depth of 21ft. at spring high-water. There is a private wharf further up river for ships up to 200ft. in length. In the lower harbour are the two old piers on the east side, the one nearest the sea being Tate Hill Pier, and the shorter one, with the lifeboat house next to it, the Fish Pier.
In 1088, when Whitby was first made a port, the head of the monastery collected dues from fishing vessels. In the 16th century alum was shipped out of Whitby, and in 1635 local firms built ships to bring coal from Newcastle. In 1706 Whitby was the sixth port in Britain, building 130 ships in that year. From 1753 to 1837 it was a whaling port.