Heritage project to help save Whitby’s historic past

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THE HERITAGE status of Whitby’s Baxtergate is set to be reviewed with the launch of a new scheme that will protect the area’s most “at risk” architectural history.

It’s organisers hope that the Baxtergate heritage project will ultimately lead to better protection for some of the town’s most historic buildings and should the pilot project prove a success, it may be rolled out across the entire town.

w111513 Pic by Ceri Oakes'Baxtergate

w111513 Pic by Ceri Oakes'Baxtergate

Councillor Walter Jones is one of the project’s leaders and said: “The challenge will be to analyse the character of Whitby, to identify its best assets and to begin to plan systematically to conserve and enhance the beauty and appeal of Whitby for future generations to enjoy.”

Initially the £12,000 pilot scheme will focus entirely on Baxtergate, with a team of volunteers from Whitby Town Council, Whitby Civic Society, and Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society taking an in-depth look into the area’s history with the aid of English Heritage.

Coun Jones said: “We will be looking in detail at each building, checking the listings, possibly looking at buildings that in the past have not been included.

“There’s a lot of affection for the town right across the country, so it’s taking stock of what we have got and to enable the population and visitors to see the qualities of the town itself.

Baxtergate was chosen as it is one of the oldest streets in Whitby, originally linking the road from York to the bridge across the Esk at Whitby by the most level route.

There are currently over 500 listed buildings in Whitby, and this may increase as the scheme aims to safeguard currently unprotected buildings that may be at risk from developers.

Coun Jones added: “It’s some time since the listings register was updated.

“Being at risk is where you get a developer getting hold of a building and ripping out the interior, stairs and windows without any planning permission at all, until someone spots what’s going on.

“In some places people are using materials which are not appropriate in the conservation area.

“You get these UPVC windows, and these stand out in complete contrast to the original wooden frames.

“It’s up to the people of Whitby to maintain the highest standards of maintenance and care of the town.”

The pilot project is expected to take six months to complete, with an exhibition expected to be held to display the findings.

Should it prove a success, it is hoped the scheme will be rolled out across the eight other character areas that form Whitby as a whole.

For this to take place the organisers intend to apply for £50,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Coun Jones added: “This is very much a test case.

“If we can get this through we will gain the confidence of the people in the town who will see we’re only trying to be helpful and see where improvements can be made.”

The project will be based at offices at the Coliseum and officially begins on 1 May.

For more information or to donate any old photographs or historic documents to the project contact Coun Jones at Whitby Town Council, Christiane Kroebel at the Lit & Phil Society or Geoff Wilson of Whitby Civic Society.