A blue plaque has been unveiled at Whitby Pavilion in memory of the man who built it – Sir George Elliot – on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Around 50 guests attended a reception hosted by Friends of Whitby Pavilion in the theatre bar. They were welcomed by Friends’ chairman Elizabeth Cheyne, who spoke of Sir George Elliot’s importance to the town, and her own fond reminiscences of the building.
She welcomed particularly brothers Mike and Tony McCallum – great, great, great, great grandsons of Sir George.
A buffet lunch was enjoyed by all, and a birthday cake was cut by Professor Bernard Knight, a former Home Office pathologist and great great nephew of Sir George, who, with wife Jean had travelled from Cardiff to be present.
The guests gathered round the theatre entrance, where George Dawson, chairman of Whitby Civic Society, gave a brief resume of Sir George’s life and Whitby connections, in particular his development of the West Cliff estate and the building of Whitby West Cliff Saloon in 1879, before inviting the McCallums to unveil the plaque which brings the total number in Whitby to 20.
The occasion saw the launch of a new edition of Whitby Civic Society’s Blue Plaque Trail booklet, and Mr Dawson went on to thank all involved in its production, in particular Elizabeth, who had written it – a bouquet presented.
During the festivities a second, miniature plaque was presented to Geoff Wilson, who, like Elizabeth, is a member of both Civic Society and Friends.
Geoff’s family lived in the former manager’s flat at the theatre – during its days as the Spa Theatre - and Geoff was actually born there.
On display for the first time was a framed portrait of Sir George which has been presented by Friends of Whitby Pavilion.
Elizabeth said: ““It was a lovely day; everything went smoothly, and it was a very warm, friendly and enjoyable occasion.
“We think Sir George would have been pleased and we hope it has gone some way to giving him the recognition he deserves for his part in the development of Whitby as a tourist resort.
“It has been a very successful joint venture between the Civic Society and the Friends of Whitby Pavilion.
“Thanks go to the committees of both for the organisation, and a big thank you also to Pavilion manager Jill Gomez-Mannion and her staff for their help in making Sir George’s 200th birthday such a memorable occasion.”
The celebrations continued on Saturday night when Friends of Whitby Pavilion staged an old time music hall, the type of entertainment that would have been popular in the early days of Whitby Saloon.
Around 100 people turned out, many in costume, to enjoy the show, directed by Barbara Benson-Smith.
Performers included Alistair Bolton and Frances Cooke, of the Tees Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Katrina Stead and her students from Whitby’s Paul Nicholas School of Acting, dancers from the Scarborough Benson Stage Academy, Stuart Wells, Martin Verrill and Les Scott, who was chairman for the show.
The band was led by Steve Maltby.