Homage to Whitby

John Freeman with some of the floral tributes on Henrietta Street. Picture: Scott Wicking
John Freeman with some of the floral tributes on Henrietta Street. Picture: Scott Wicking

A popular Whitby location has been turned into a shrine to residents and visitors who loved the town.

The area at the end of Henrietta Street on the East Cliff overlooking the sea is now home to a multitude of floral tributes, plaques and messages in memory of loved ones who have passed away.

John Freeman, chairman of Whitby and District Tourism Association, feels that the strength of feeling that motivates people – particularly visitors – to leave tributes is testament to the high regard in which the town is held.

“It is a great tribute to the town that people feel so strongly about the place that they will go to the trouble of making these symbolic gestures,” he said.

“Whitby has real status, it is a place that a lot of people, both residents and visitors, have tremendous affection for.

“I can fully understand why people want to leave these tributes to their loved ones here, the amount of repeat visitors we get here are a testament to what a strong pull this place has with so many people.”

Currently the fencing around the cliff edge at the end of Henrietta Street has a number of bunches of flowers and messages hanging from or attached to it.

Some people have gone further and had more permanent memorials made in the form of plaques that are screwed to the fencing and nearby benches.

Mr Freeman believes that there is a significant downside to the leaving of the tributes.

He added: “The problem with the tributes being left is that unfortunately, in time, they begin to look unsightly.

“People who come to the town to enjoy the views out to sea from the East Cliff have to look at a load of dead flowers. This compromises the view and actually detracts from the very thing that visitors come to look at.”

Mr Freeman said that the issue is neither a new concern for the town, nor is it restricted to just the East Cliff.

“During my time as Mayor of Whitby I used to hear from a lot of people who had issues with the amount of benches on the West Cliff that ended up covered in flowers that were left as tributes to loved ones,” he continued.

“They would be fastened to the benches with cable ties and people would feel uncomfortable about sitting on them because they did not want to be disrespectful, even though the whole point of the benches being there was for people to be able to sit on them.”

Mr Freeman’s sentiments regarding tributes left on the East Cliff were echoed by a number of residents who commented on the Gazette’s Facebook page.

Oliver Dawson said: “I can understand why people leave tributes there, but I wish they wouldn’t. Apart from anything else it just ends up looking a mess.

“We have all lost loved ones but I don’t want to be confronted by these kind of memorials when I walk up there to enjoy the view and take in the air.

“It’s somewhere to visit to appreciate life, not to be saddened by other’s loss.”

Sue Pickering added: “I think at the very least people should leave tributes that are biodegradable, in other words remove all wire, ties and plastic.”

Commenting on the problem of floral tributes on the West CLiff, Gary Nicholson said: “What really bugs me is the copious amounts of floral memorials left on seats - they rot and look awful and you can’t use the seat and nobody wants to seem insensitive and remove them.”