Action to save crumbling Whitby landmark

Whitby's crumbling Old Town Hall
Whitby's crumbling Old Town Hall

Work on Whitby’s crumbling Old Town Hall in the heart of the historic east side will begin in November.

A number of complaints about the state of the grade II listed building in Church Street have been made to borough councillor Rob Barnett.

I hope Gazette readers will get behind any campaign to preserve and enhance our rich heritage

Rob Barnett

He recently warned of large pieces of masonry falling off the iconic hall, which dates back to 1788, and said if any of them hit someone on the head, “they would know about it”.

It follows on from a warning from fellow town councillor John Freeman, who earlier this year said someone could be killed by the crumbling structure.

Cllr Barnett urged Whitby Gazette readers to get behind this vital repair work.

He said: “It is one of the much photographed buildings in our town and sits on the centrepiece of Church Street – a very busy visitor destination.

“Therefore, its state of repair and demise are of huge concern to my constituents, visitors and the people of the town.”

Cllr Barnett, who represents residents of Whitby’s Streonshalh ward, has been lobbied by many people as to what is happening and whether it would be repaired.

He recently met with Alan Dargue, the Scarborough Borough Council Officer responsible and a contractor, Boroughs Davis, to discuss the state of the building and any plan to rectify the situation.

He said: “I believe we were left with the intention to achieve a short and longer term solution to the problem.

“Of course, in this context, budgetary constraints etc play a part. As I say, much to the annoyance of many, failure to plan is to plan to fail (not original).”

Cllr Barnett said he and the others were in agreement that:

• the matter is urgent, due to health and safety

• the building is an important monument in the town, therefore to do nothing is not an option

• in the medium to long term, we need to work together to ensure the longevity of this building.

“Clearly, this enhances the attractiveness of Whitby as a visitor destination,” he said.

“We all appreciate that the present and long term future of towns up and down the coast is going to be reliant on tourist attractions and appropriate infrastructure. We have no option but to take action.

“The good news is that I have just been assured that work will commence in November.

“I hope that Gazette readers will get behind any campaign to preserve and enhance our rich heritage.”

Cllr John Freeman, speaking to the Gazette in June, said: “On the south side there are pieces of masonry coming away . One piece coming off the size they are could seriously injure or kill someone.

“It is an area where people sit on the steps underneath - and it has happened before.”

It is thought that problems are being exacerbated by the fact that the last repairs were done using reinforced concrete rather than proper stonework which is allowing moisture and damp to get into the fabric of the building.

Speaking at a Whitby Town Council meeting earlier this month, Cllr Barnett said a company had been brought in to carry out a survey to see what needed to be done.

He warned that falling masonry was a health and safety issue and warned: “Bits are falling off.

“If you got hit by one of them, you would know about it.”