199 Thank yous for Whitby Steps

IT's a date – Whitby's 199 Steps will be officially reopened following their restoration on 1 October and everyone is invited to join in the party.

The stairs leading to the church have been restored to their former glory thanks to the generosity of Whitby people who raised 199,000 in the Whitby Gazette's 199 Steps Appeal.

And on Sunday 1 October the work on the churchyard path and lampposts will also be complete and the steps appeal memorial and book will be unveiled to the sponsors who saved the steps from closure.

The ceremony will follow a specail service of thanks at St Mary's Church at 11.15am.

Appeal organiser Nova Newlyn said: "It will be a wonderful occasion.

"I hope all those that have sponsored steps will be there standing on their step and all those that haven't will also gather to show their support and enjoy the moment."

The Gazette teamed up with Whitby Parochial Church to offer readers the chance to sponsor each step for 1,000 back in March 2004.

Anyone donating 1,000 could name a step and become part of Whitby's history.

Families, businesses and societies showed their support and all 199 were snapped up in just 14 weeks.

Although the stairs, which lead up to St Mary's Church, were re-opened as soon as the major repairs had been carried out at the end of last year there is still more work to be done before those who sponsored steps can start celebrating.

The appeal was so popular an extra 8,000 was raised to improve the path from the steps to the church and provide lampposts in the churchyard and this work is due to start next month.

Architects have also started work on the memorial which will contain all 199 step names.

This will be unveiled at the top of the steps at the ceremony on following the service in St Mary's Church.

Visitors to the steps are warned not to be alarmed to see some deterioration in the pointing of the joints of the steps as this is to be expected given the cold conditions when the work was done and will be corrected before the opening.

Although the step names cannot be carved into each step – English Heritage would not allow it – they will be on the memorial plaque and in the commemorative book in the church.

l See a full list of all those who have sponsored a step and the step numbers, as well as updates on celebration preparations, on our website www.whitbytoday.co.uk