Sunday, 27 November 2011


After a classical education at the University of Edinburgh, Lionel Charlton settled in Whitby around the year 1748. He was a lame man with a withered hand, yet these obstacles did not prevent him from setting up a school which was for many years the principal one in Whitby.

Considered by many a strict schoolmaster, he was nevertheless a man of great integrity and would not accept anything other than his agreed salary from his employers. He was stubborn in attitude and never surrendered his point of view in an argument.

Around 1762 Charlton published a paper claiming that extracting money from the local fishermen in taxes known as tithes was unjust. Dr. Hayter, Bishop of Norwich, was in charge of this process, and he felt this paper reflected badly on his character, especially as Charlton seemingly pulled no punches whilst voicing his opinion of the Bishop.

The South East Prospect of Whitby Abbey 1773
Dr. Hayter threatened to prosecute Charlton unless he retracted his 'obnoxious expressions'. True to his character Charlton refused point blank, immediately putting his career, the safety of his family and his financial security in peril. This incident may well have ruined the dogmatic schoolmaster had the Bishop not died , putting a stop to the prosecution.
Toward the end of his life, after a long acquaintance with the town, Lionel Charlton undertook the writing of his History of Whitby. Having his employer Mr Cholmley's library at his disposal and access to the records of the Abbey, several years were spent in research.

The title page and the canvas map
Before September 1776 about a hundred subscribers were obtained. In 1777 the book was advertised as 'speedily to be published'. Even so the subscribers had to wait unti 1779 before holding the long anticipated volume in their hands.

This First Edition contained a canvas fold out map of Whitby which was reprinted by Young in his history of the town in 1817. Charlton's book is not an easy read. It is arranged chronologically, therefore subjects are not gathered together, but occur piecemeal throughout the work. It contains a huge amount of charters and exhibits 'a greater display of laborious research than of solid judgement'.

Many thanks to Mr Stephen Boddy for lending me his precious first edition of this book

Thursday, 10 November 2011


This is a slightly unusual post from OUT ON YE! as it is music related, but it is also kind of literature related (in the widest sense) so I thought this might be the place to publish it.

Long thought lost to the world (and some would say for the better) I came across this fanzine dedicated to the Whitby music scene. It came out in 1987, and I clearly remember pounding away on an old typewriter deep into the early hours of the morning producing it.

It ran for two issues, and this premiere publication includes interviews with M.O.D., Sons of Gods Mate, live reviews of the likes of Indian Dream and Chumbawamba, a cartoon or two and a Wilfred Owen poem to round things off.

Click on the images for a readable version.


Sunday, 6 November 2011


On the 24th of September this year we were down by the beach when my five year old daughter Iris came up from the sand clutching something in her hand. It looked like a curled up worm with a flattened body, and I couldn't recognise it as one of the creatures normally found on the shore.

Placing it in a paper cup of sea water, it stretched out and fixed one end of its body to the side of the cup with a sucker. It was clearly a leech. After taking a few photographs for identification purposes, the leech was placed in a pool under some rocks so it could crawl away from predatory seagulls until the tide came in.

At home, despite consulting numerous identification guides I couldn't find a match. Marine leeches prey on fish and are usually found attached to them when they are caught. It didn't look like a marine leech.

The photos were posted on the Wild About Britain water life forum and It's fair to say they caused much consternation. Someone even suggested that it might be a juvenile hagfish (a jawless fish similar to a lamprey). Of course the sucker and highly extendable body precluded this. It was certainly a member of the Hirudinea, the leech family.

There are lots of pipes that drain water from the cliffs onto the beach just below where our beach hut is situated, and it struck me that this might not be a marine species at all, but a fresh water or terrestrial creature that had been washed out of one of these ducts. Indeed the most likely ID turned out to be the rare terrestrial leech Trocheta subviridis.

Quite capable of living in water with a high level of pollution from sewerage, the leech was undoubtedly living in one of the drainage pipes and was flushed out onto the sand. Trocheta subviridis is a predator of earthworms and leaves the water to hunt. There are reports of it crawling up plugholes into people's sinks and it is sometimes dug up in gardens. Because of its lifestyle it is sometimes called the Amphibious Leech.

In the journal Parasitology, vol. III, p. 182 ther is an account of one being found on an allotment in 1922.
In April of this year a specimen was sent to the Agricultural Department, Armstrong College, by Mr S. Giles of South Shields, along with a note explaining that it had been found “down in the first spit of the soil” in one of a group of allotments there. It was obviously a specimen of a leech, but the specimen was submitted later, to Mr John Ritchie, the Museum, Perth, who kindly identified the species as Trocheta subviridis, and who mentioned that "this gives so far as I am aware, a more northern habitat than hitherto recorded".
Definitive identification of leeches needs to be carried out when the creature is still alive and its body relatively transparent. Also a handlens is essential to count eye spots. This has been a lesson to me. Now whenever I go to the beach, I always take a magnifying glass of some sort. You never know what you might find.