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Coordinates 54 ° 29 ′  N , 0 ° 37 ′  W Coordinates: 54 ° 29 ′  N , 0 ° 37 ′  W
OS National Grid NZ893109
Whitby (England)
Residents 13,594 (as of 2001)
Post town WHITBY
ZIP code section YO21, YO22
prefix 01947
Part of the country England
region Yorkshire and the Humber
Shire county North Yorkshire
District Scarborough
British Parliament Scarborough and Whitby
Website: whitbytowncouncil.gov.uk
Aerial view of Whitby and harbor

Whitby (Danish: white town ) is a small town in the Borough of Scarborough in the English county of North Yorkshire . It is located at the mouth of the Esk in the North Sea in the northeast of the county and is an important historical coastal town. According to the 2001 census, Whitby had a total of 13,594 residents.


In 664 the Whitby Synod was held. A regulation for calculating the Christian Easter date was decided, which became valid for all of Europe and to this day determines the annually changing Easter day in spring. The historical decisions are documented by the historians Beda and Eddiu.



Whitby harbor primarily serves a larger fishing fleet. In addition, it offers a protected port of call for ships between the English northeast and the southern North Sea during one of the numerous North Sea storms. Originally administered by the monks of the monastery, there have already been recorded complaints about the condition of the oak port facilities from 1541. In the following centuries, numerous expansion programs followed, which, however, always led to satisfactory results and often failed due to a lack of money. The parliament in London passed various laws, the shipowners obliged to participate in the port expansion, but with rather changeable success. Today's appearance is essentially from 1905, when J. Watt Sandeman & Son built new 160-meter-long quays, dredged the Esk River and built a fish terminal. The fish terminal was replaced by a new building in 1957.

James Cook

The city was the training center for one of Britain's greatest seafarers, James Cook . The ships of his numerous voyages were built here and the important South Sea voyage of 1768 also began here. The ships Whitby Cats or Whitby Colliers, robust coal transporters that were built here based on Norwegian models, were used by Cook on all of his South Seas voyages. The home of the Walker family, where Cook did his apprenticeship, now houses the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. His monument overlooks the city's harbor.

Bram Stoker

When Bram Stoker resided in Whitby in 1890, the small town served as the inspiration and backdrop for his masterpiece Dracula , which was published in 1897: On his trip to England, Count Dracula landed with his ship in Whitby. The city therefore has a Dracula Museum. The following description of Stoker is still valid today, as there were no more major structural changes:

“This is a lovely place. The little river, the Esk, runs through a deep valley, which broadens out as it comes near the harbor. A great viaduct runs across, with high piers, through which the view seems somehow, farther away than it really is. The valley is beautiful green, and it is so steep that when you are on the high land on either side you look right across it, unless you are near enough to see down. The houses of the old town - the side away from us - are all red-roofed, and seem piled up one over the other anyhow […] Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey , which was sacked by the Danes, [ ...] It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows. Between it and the town there is another church, the parish one, round which is a big graveyard, all full of tombstones. This is, to my mind, the nicest spot in Whitby, for it lies right over the town, and has full view over the harbor and over the bay, to where the headland called Kettleness stretches out into the sea. "

“It's a nice place. The small river, the Esk, runs through a deep valley that widens when it comes near the port. A large viaduct runs over it, with high pillars, if you look through these it seems somehow further away than it really is. The valley is beautifully green and it is so steep that if you are in the highlands on either side you can see it right above, unless you are close enough to see down. The houses in the old town - on the side that is far from us - all have red roofs and seem to be somehow stacked on top of each other, [...] directly above the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was destroyed by the Danes, [ ...] It is a very noble ruin, of immense size and full of beautiful and romantic places; there is a legend that says that a white lady can be seen in one of the windows. Between it [the ruin] and the city there is another church, that of the parish, around which there is a large cemetery, full of tombstones. This is, in my opinion, the prettiest spot in Whitby because it is located directly above the town and has a full view of the harbor and the bay where the headland - the Kettleness - extends into the sea. "


View of Runswick Bay Beach

Today the city is a typical English lake resort with old buildings full of character, museums and the ruins of the abbey , which also impressed Bram Stoker so much. If you want to go from the harbor to St. Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey , you have to climb 199 steps. In the past, this was an ordeal especially for the pallbearers, which is why platforms were occasionally built in to rest.

Eight kilometers north of Whitby is Runswick Bay , a small, picturesque bay with a light sandy beach, which in 2020 was voted “Britain's best beach” from among 50 locations in a Sunday Times survey. Above all, the undisturbed ambience and the beautiful view were praised.

The Whitby Gothic Weekend takes place twice a year , originally a festival for members of the Gothic culture. A folk festival takes place once a year (August).

Town twinning



  • Alison Binns: Dedications of Monastic Houses in England and Wales 1066-1216 ; Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 1989; ISBN 0851155219
  • David Knowles, R. Neville Hadcock: Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales ; London: Longman, 1971 2 ; ISBN 0582112303
  • Roy Midmer: English Medieval Monasteries (1066-1540) ; London: William Heinemann, 1979; ISBN 0434465356 .
  • Nikolaus Pevsner: Yorkshire - The North Riding ; Harmondsworth: Yale University Press Academic, 1966; ISBN 0300096658 .
  • Bram Stoker: Dracula ; Goods 1993.

Music video

The music video for Holding Back the Years of the British band Simply Red was shot in Whitby. In the plot of the video, Mick Hucknall lived through his childhood and youth, with intermediate scenes also being faded in.

Web links

Commons : Whitby, North Yorkshire  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Whitby  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. 2001 Census: Key Statistics: Parish Headcounts: Area: Whitby CP (Parish) . In: Neighborhood Statistics . Office for National Statistics . Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  2. ^ Günter Spitzbart (Ed.): Beda Venerabilis Church History of the English People . 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1997, ISBN 3-534-13422-2 , pp. 580 .
  3. ^ Robert William Rennison: Civil engineering heritage ; London: Telford, 1996; ISBN 0-7277-2518-1 ; Pp. 138-139
  4. ^ Runswick Bay named as Britain's best beach. BBC News, July 26, 2020, accessed July 26, 2020 .
  5. Simply Red - Holding Back the Years on YouTube