Bumper start to resort's season
Whitby welcomed sunshine, rain, scooters, tourists and the start of the busy summer season at a packed bank holiday weekend.
With temperatures on the up for Good Friday and the sun out, it prompted a flurry of visitors to town to take advantage of the Easter break.
From early on there were cars crawling as far as back as Four Lane Ends and over the New Bridge back to Larpool as traffic made its way into town looking for parking spaces.
Queues for the park and ride bus at the town centre bus station back to the base near Cross Butts were as far back as the library on Windsor Terrace.
The beach was packed with families taking advantage of some of the finest weather of the year so far and businesses, especially the local chippies enjoyed a bumper day of trading as tourists tucked into the traditional tasty seaside treat.
Richard Price, owner of Riverside Fisheries on Church Street, said it was the busiest day for business that he could remember in years.
The Black Horse pub on old Church Street said: “We were chocka all weekend. Everyone was in high spirits and the sun was shining. Our busiest weekends of the year are Regatta, folk week and the goth weekend but this has been our busiest so far.”
Niall Carson, from the Whitby and District Tourism Association, told the Gazette: “I would say it was a busy weekend when the weather permitted. But everybody who booked accommodation in advance came anyway so it was busy even on the poorest days.
“It certainly is the start of the season even though it never really ends.”
The local economy was given a boost by the annual Whitby Pub Crawl event which will have kept the pubs busy on the Saturday and also the scooter rally which attracted enthusiasts to the town from far and wide.
Heavy rain on Monday may have dampened the pitch at Whitby Town’s Turnbull ground, causing the match with Darlington to be cancelled, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of those making the most of the last day of the extended weekend.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Despite the heavy rain and strong winds which created tricky driving conditions and led to the cancellation of Whitby Town’s football match against Darlington, it proved to be another busy but generally well-behaved Easter weekend in Whitby.”
In just three weeks, the first major event in Whitby’s calendar is the April Goth Weekend which sees thousands descend upon the town for daytrips or long weekends. Guest houses and b&bs get booked up almost a year in advance for the spectacle which is the only one of its kind in the country.
In addition to the dozens of village shows which make up the calendar the other big crowd pullers are the Whitby Regatta and the Autumn Goth weekend.
The four-day celebration of the town’s rowing heritage attracts people from all over the country but is also a community event for locals which is now in its 177th year.
Confirmation that the Red Arrows will be returning to the Regatta this year is sure to add to the interest and as summer draws to a close it is signed off by the second Goth weekend of the year which is traditionally the more popular of the two.
Mr Carson added: “I can remember in the mid 1970s when my late wife and I started one holiday cottage, the same one I have now. We were told it was a 12 week season. It is more like 40-plus so virtually all year round.
“Tourism is such a vital part of the economy for Whitby and the surrounding villages. It is three million visitor days a year and £100 million a year just to Whitby town’s economy.”