Whitby’s got everything hasn’t it? The Abbey, Captain Cook, Dracula and the whole Goth scene, quaint streets, beautiful scenery, all the fun of the seaside, Boyes...why would anyone ever leave?
Well, a cynic might say, because it gets really cold. Really, really cold. And windy. And wet. And that’s just July. An altogether more worthy reason however, is the spirit of adventure handed down by generations of explorers, who traversed the globe - Captain Cook himself was of course famous for...not being here.
And still they go travelling, and not just to Pickering.
I caught up with three people who grew up in Whitby, but found their feet on foreign soil.
Just as going to sea with the fleet was a way to see the world in years past, the army is today.
Cheryl Hill (now Bell) was born in Church Street, and educated in the fine establishments of East Whitby, Eskdale and Whitby schools.
Seeing lipstick painted men in dresses was quite a thrilling noveltyMark Holtz
Joining the army at aged just 17, she served for eight years, and now lives in Asturias in northern Spain.
Her favourite memory is Regatta Day, having her dad buy her a regatta doll and standing in the Fleece Car Park in her PJs to watch the fireworks. There weren’t so many rugby clubs back then so seeing lipstick-painted men in dresses, carrying collecting tins, was quite a thrilling novelty.
Other than family and the bligatory fish and chips, she misses a Bothams strawberry tart, a favourite when she visits once or twice a year. The only thing she doesn’t miss is the swing bridge being open when she was running late - we’ve all been there.
Of course, some still do go to sea. Such is the case with Stuart Russell, originally from Waterloo Yard off Flowergate, where the great 19th century photographer Frank Sutcliffe once had a studio. Educated at Cliff Street, The Mount and West Cliff schools, it was his studies at Hull Trinity House Navigation School that led him to work as a deck apprentice on the Blue Funnel Line, one of the UK’s biggest merchant companies. Starting in 1965, he stayed with them until 1977, when he married and settled in Malaysia, holding a succession of related posts for the Malaysian government, including that of Marine Adviser.
He too misses the Regatta, and was in fact one of the collection ‘ladies’ much beloved by Cheryl! He also misses the small time atmosphere, and friends and family - his twin brother Howard still lives in Whitby. He has visited many times over the years - the only thing he doesn’t miss is the busy summer traffic - and is now back in the UK.
My old Whitby School classmate and fellow scourge of the George Hotel quiz machine, one Ricky Castoldi. Born in Eskdale Hospital in 1969, teachers at St Hilda’s and then Caedmon shared the pleasure of educating him.
After gaining a degree in Business and Language, he first put those skills to use in the most obvious way - as a Thomson holiday rep in Lanzarote. After moving into software sales he relocated to London and then, in 2008, to Dallas, Texas, where he lives today with one daughter and, as he says, a mad dog.
His favourite memories are of hanging out at the Waterloo Indoor Market Cafe with ‘with my super cool friends Phil Lavery, Charlotte Freeman, Alex Brown, Louise Baines and in particular the beautiful Jackie Skilbeck.’ (it may be time to let it go, Ricky), and he especially misses the pork pies sold by Jackson’s in Ruswarp! Another frequent visitor, the only thing he doesn’t miss is the weather.
Talking to these and other ‘ex-Pats’, it seems less that people leave Whitby, and more that they spread parts of Whitby around the world, which is all the better for it.