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Henrietta Street memories

I heard a short time ago that there had been a landslide in Henrietta Street in Whitby.

It took me right back to 23 and half years ago when my late husband and myself had a holiday in Whitby in the cottage in Henrietta Street.

I found it a magical place and did spend quite some time sitting at the bottom of the Abbey steps and dreaming of long-gone Whitby.

We had read that Henrietta Street had landslides in history, and the poem, Henrietta Street Blues, was inspired by these stories.

I do remember talking to a lady who lived on the abbey side of Henrietta Street and she took us through to see her garden which was almost vertical outside her kitchen window.

Incidentally she did bed and breakfast and told me that she had the Yorkshire Ripper stay there some years before and “I must say he was a very nice young man”!

I was fascinated by Sutcliffe’s photographs of the children of Whitby and wished there could have been permanent tracks of these children playing - hence ‘Games on Tate Hill’.

Although I couldn’t possibly have known, my late husband began to suffer from the lung illness that he died from in the next two years, but I was thinking at that time of the patterns of life, day and night, spring and summer, and how it would be if these patterns suddenly stopped, and maybe Fylingdales Moor Early Warning System could warn us of this world ending.

Reading it all these years later I think it is an apt description of the feelings of loss when someone dies.

I have now been happily remarried for many years, but remembered these Whitby poems when I read the recent reports and wondered if you might be interested in reading them.

Henrietta Street Blues

We lived in number 35, beneath the abbey walls.

‘Me’ Dad he is a fisherman in Whitby’s brown-sailed yawls.

At night we’d sit in doorways, above the Northern Sea

And Liz would shout to Isaac, and Ann would shout to me.

One day, as if to fool you, sun shining, rain clouds cleared

Our cliff began to slowly slide, our street, it disappeared.

Mother was ‘scaning’ mussels, with our Eleanor and Sal

‘Me’ Dad says she were beautiful when she were but a gal.

Gone were the open doorways, the mothers in their shawls

With fires of driftwood burning for the men in the brown-sailed yawls.

I sit on the abbey stairway, look out at the grabbing sea

And Isaac shouts to Ann and Liz, but no-one shouts to me

Whitby September 1989

Games on Tate Hill

The warp and the weft, in and out they weave

Like taut darning wool on a mushroomed sock

Some chasing their toys, blue balsa=wood plants,

Some big-eyed and brown - a hundred years old,

Like car lights captured, steaks of red and green,

These children leave lines - a Tate Hill tatting,

Scrambling over boats for Mr Sutcliffe,

Leaping on the steps, laughing here for me.

Whitby September 1989

Fylingdale Moor

Early warning

In the year of the last chin-shining buttercup,

The last string-swinging conker,]The last depression of winter, with no possibility of spring.

That early morning

When the last tide saunters out with the Whitby fishers

Leaving a tangled trimming of shelly seaweed and driftwood.

When moonless matt night comes forever.

Early warning

When all the confident circles of our life will be broken.

Maybe just a faint dizziness?

Whitby September 1989

Elizabeth Cheverton, Clarendon Street, Leamington Spa

 

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