Whitby Naturalists well-recorded

Like your correspondent, Paul Goddard of Rainham, I am also researching Miss ME Denton.

I am writing a booklet on the history of the Whitby Naturalists Club as part of their Centenary that takes place at the end of 2012.

Martha Denton was a very active member of the Whitby Naturalists from before 1930 through to her death at the end of 1951/ early 1952.

She lived at a house called Norwood in Sandsend.

The Librarians of the Whitby Naturalists Club have been very diligent and have kept all the minute books since its foundation and have created scrap books of over 2000 Whitby Gazette cuttings of the Club’s activities over its hundred years of existence.

Miss Denton joined the main committee in 1930 and from 1939 became Secretary of the Botany Section and then from 1943 until her death was chairman of that section.

She regularly led walks for the club and gave many indoor talks in the winter. These are all beautifully recorded in the Whitby Gazette whose owner Mr Horne was very generous in his support for both the Whitby Naturalists and the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society.

Miss Denton was ‘Recorder’ for fungi for the Naturalist Club for about 15 years but her great strength was her artistic ability and every year at the annual meetings she put on a display of paintings of plants seen during the year.

In those days text books on Botany did not contain pictures as the technology did not exist to put them cheaply onto paper. Pictures in a book required the very expensive method of engraving a ‘block’ to be fitted into the press; this could typically cost as much as one or two weeks of a man’s wages for each block.

Miss Denton’s paintings of flowers were therefore a very valuable resource to the Naturalists Club as was the Herbarium, now kept in Whitby Museum, to which she contributed.

It is fair to say that she helped to develop a Naturalists Club which had, and still has, the largest membership of any in the area and covers both the natural history and local history of such a beautiful and well-recorded town like Whitby.

Mike Yates by email