Thursday, 25 February 2010


12 January 1891

On Saturday the weather continued frosty and fine at Whitby and the neighbourhood, and hundreds of young people were out on the ice skating on Ruswarp dam and on the River Esk adjoining the Carrs.
A sad fatality occurred on Ruswarp dam, at the lower part. A young man named James Bell, about 19 years of age, son of Mr.George Bell, fishing boat proprietor, ventured too far down the dam, where the ice was not quite so firm as in the upper reaches.

The ice suddenly gave way, and he was submerged. An effort was made to rescue him by Mr.Naylor, of the Home and Colonial Stores, but the unfortunate young man disappeared beneath the ice. The body has not yet been recovered.
From The Times 1891

Sunday, 21 February 2010

0°C 21.02.10

Click to expand the images



Gilbert Foster, Fred Jackson and Mark Senior had been painting in Staithes from about 1880. The group that formed around them became known as The Staithes Group. Despite the lack of a strong leading figure, such as Stanhope Forbes at the artists' colony in Newlyn, the Staithes artists held a strong belief that art should not be shackled by the rigid conformity of the establishment. Indeed they split from the Yorkshire Union of Artists and held their own independent exhibition for the first time in 1901 at the Fishermen's Institute in Staithes.

Frederick William Jackson is often falsely referred to as an English impressionist. Many of the Staithes painters had studied on the continent and the influence of impressionism can certainly be seen in their work, but it never hides an underlying draughtsmanship and a solidity of form. They never fully submerged themselves in its essential spirit.

The French painter Bastien Lepage belonged to group of watered down impressionists known as Juste Milieu (Middle of the Road). Leplage was a huge influence on Fred Jackson, particularly with the idea of 'plein air' painting.

Fred Jackson and Laura Knight on the beach at Staithes

Artists painting in the open air is a common sight in Whitby and the surrounding area these days, but when the impressionists first took their paints and easels outside to capture, for instance, the changing quality of sunlight at different times of the day, it was quite revolutionary.

Plein air painting also became the fashion in the artists' colony at Newlyn in sunny Cornwall. The Staithes painters however had to cope with all the bad weather the North Sea could throw at them. Their dedication to plein air often took its toll. John William Howey, for instance, died in Hartlepool in 1938 from typhus caught by drinking contaminated water whilst painting en plein air.

Horse drawn Sled in the snow by F. W. Jackson

In 1914 Fred Jackson visited Russia where, despite the freezing weather he continued to paint outdoors. Many consider these paintings to be his most vibrant and innovative.

The artist Laura Knight said this of Jackson in her autobiography:
'He painted out of doors in any weather. Under the mittens he wore, his hands were swollen, stiff and chapped, as were the edges of his ears and the wings of his nostrils.'

Fisherfolk at Runswick by F. W. Jackson

Fisherwomen by the Quay at Staithes by F. W. Jackson

Monday, 1 February 2010


Mrs Alice Galilee owned a cottage in Jackson's Yard which she rented out. In 1847 she made a bequest that the income from the cottage should go towards providing bread for the poor of the parish.

As you enter St. Mary's Parish Church, Whitby, the first pew on the left hand side is the churchwarden's pew. On the wall above the pew is a rack on which this bread was placed. Charity bread cupboards and traditional bread doles are not uncommon, like the ones at Cartmel Priory and Kirkby Stephen for example, both in Cumbria.

The fund provided by Mrs Gallilee has now been merged into the Whitby United Charities, and the bread is now no longer placed there before every Sunday morning service. The custom still continues on the main festivals of the Church's year though.

I have it on good authority that bread from Woodhead's bakery is prefered to that from Botham's as it lasts longer.

This is not meant as an endorsement of any particular bakery. As well as the two mentioned, other quality purveyors of bread and bread related items are available in the town. Remember bread prices may go up as well as down.