Whitby taking its heritage to the world stage

Whitby Abbey''w141504m
Whitby Abbey''w141504m

Whitby Abbey has long been one of the most popular venues for tourists but the historic site could soon be recognised on a world scale.

Whitby Town Council is looking at the possibility of achieving World Heritage Status for the monument, which dates back to possibly before 657 AD.

Cllrs Denis Collins and town mayor Heather Coughlan suggested Whitby as a whole applies for the title but fellow councillors decided there was more chance of success focussing on just Whitby Abbey.

Some of the criteria applications have to meet to be in with a chance of being awarded World Heritage Status include “representing a masterpiece of human creative genius”, “exceptional natural beauty” and being an “outstanding example of a human settlement”.

Cllr Collins said: “We have such a beautiful place in Whitby. You only have to take the Abbey alone to fulfil the criteria.

“Where else in the 600s had a place like that built?

“Then there are the cliffs at Saltwick and the alum works.”

Cllr Trumper added: “Rather than the whole of the town, the area to focus on is the Abbey Headland as it does meet most of the criteria but we would be struggling with the rest of the town.”

Moves were made over ten years ago to get the town world heritage status.

The then Bishop of Whitby and the borough council were involved with the project which was being led by the town’s then MP Lawrie Quinn.

But it fizzled out when Mr Quinn lost his seat.

The first monastery on the Abbey headland was founded in 657AD by Oswy, the King of Northumberland.

It was called Streonshalh, the older name for Whitby, and thought to be in reference to a Roman settlement that was previously on the site.

After being desolate for 200 years a new monastery was formed until it was destroyed by Henry VIII. The ruins are the abbey we know today.

The application will be made to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation.