Historic studio is demolished

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A PIECE of Lythe’s village history has been lost with the demolition of a photography studio.

It belonged to Tom Watson who grew up in the village in the 1870s and left the joinery trade in his late 20s to become a self taught photographer.

He died in 1957 and the studio, thought to date back to the 1800s, opposite the fire station in Lythe, was unused for a number of years, and had fallen into a state of disrepair. This week it was demolished much to the disappointment of local residents.

One said: “It was in bad condition and needed a lot of work but whether they would have needed planning permission I don’t know.

“He was a photographer on a footing with Sutcliffe and there is a book on him.

“People locally know of him but not many people coming into Whitby know of him. It would have made a good tourist attraction if it had been developed properly but now it is a part of history that has gone. There is just a pile of rubble.”

According to a Mulgrave Community Research Project it was while working at Mulgrave Castle that Watson bought his first camera in Whitby for seven shillings and six pence.

He accepted commissions from Lord Normanby to capture family events and scenes from the estate as well as doing portrait and group photography and images of villages which were produced for postcards.

Historians also say Watson ran a picture framing business from the Lythe studio and was commissioned to make a week by week record of the building of the road between Sandsend and Whitby and the rebuilding of Lythe Church.

A spokesman for the Mulgrave Estate said a couple of years ago it had approached Lythe Village Hall Committee to see if there were any suggestions about an alternative use and that recently there had been complaints about it being an eyesore and a safety risk.

They added: “It deteriorated very quickly. There was some work being done on a cottage behind or next to it and it was brought into sharp focus just how bad a state the studio was in.

“The decision was taken it ought to come down for safety reasons. It is one of those things where there will be mixed opinions. The estate tried to do something about it but it is a business and can’t preserve things based on nostalgia.”