Woman's lucky escape from falling stonework

A PART of the top of one of the columns on the old town hall in the Market Place crashed to the ground on Friday, narrowly missing a woman.

Jon Lloyd is the manager of the Ship in the Bottle – a gift shop opposite to where the incident happened.

He told the Gazette: "I heard a woman cry out so I came out of the shop and saw her sitting on the step and her husband and dog were standing just near her.

"Quite a large piece of stone had fallen off the column and just missed hitting her. I think she was a tourist, she wasn't hurt."

The stone has broken a large chip out of the stone step at the front right of the historic building.

Scarborough Council were notified by local gallery owner John Freeman on Saturday morning.

A council van arrived at the scene and safety barriers were erected around the most fragile columns within three hours.

John Woodhead, Scarborough Borough Council's northern area engineer said: "There is some surface cracking to the columns on the old town hall building, typically caused by age and the effects of weather.

"The area has been made safe, the loose material will be removed and repairs carried out within the next week."

The town clerk at Whitby Town Council confirmed he had reported large cracks on another of the columns at the back right of the building, facing into Church Street, some weeks ago to Mr Woodhead.

In an email response on 25 June, Mr Woodhead told the town clerk he was "on the case," and that his men needed to mix lime with mortar to match the finish on the columns.

A stone plaque on the town hall states it was built in 1788 by Nathaniel Cholmley and the architect was Jonathan Pickernell.

The hall was last used as an art gallery in the 1980s but is now suffering from erosion and decay.

The exterior fabric of the old town hall building was renovated and cleaned in 1987.

Exterior stonework was repaired and repointing and replacing on the rendering on the columns was undertaken.