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Emma Stothard and The Whitby Heritage Trail

The Amazing Mesh Galvanised Sculptures of Emma Stothard On The Whitby Sculpture Trail

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
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The Witby Sculpture Trail

Emma Stothard Sculptures On The Whitby Heritage Trail

Emma Stothard created nine wire mesh galvanised sculptures gathered together as the Whitby Heritage Trail. Her website with her amazing work can be seen here.

The Whitby Sculpture Trail is a series of striking new sculptures of some of the town’s best-loved sons and daughters, created by Emma working in partnership with Scarborough Borough Council. She has portrayed some of Whitby’s most famous characters, all with a powerful connection to the sea. Each figure is made from steel wire carefully woven by hand around a steel armature then hot-dip galvanised. There are nine sculptures: you can see them in any order, but I am going to guide you through them from one to nine.

You will come across some of them in town but this is a list of them in order. Most but not all have an associated information plaque close by which tells the story of the sculpture.

The map on the top of this is taken from Emma’s excellent site and is a great reference to explore these amazing sculptures.

Emma Loves this story as acknowledged here

Emma Likes This
Penny Hedge

1: Whitby Sculpture Trail - Penny Hedge

Penny Hedge celebrates an ancient local custom (dating back to 1159), held on the eve of Ascension Day – the annual ceremony of the Horngarth or the Planting of the Penny Hedge. This Sculpture can be found opposite the Middle Earth Tavern (website here) which is reached by walking along the south side of the river away from the North Sea Coaste and Whitby Abbey.

Bridgender

2: Whitby Sculpture Trail - Bridgender

This stands on teheast side of the Swing Bridge adjacent to the Holland And Barrett shop underneath the big Polar Bear – displayed as a fisherman leaning against the harbour railings, sharing his knowledge, ‘looking at the weather’ before determining to set sail out to sea.

Fish Wife

3: Whitby Sculpture Trail - Fish Wife

On the west side of the swing bridge, next to railingsthe next sculpture depicts the life of a fisherman’s wife who carried out a long day’s work in preparation of support to her husband. She would gather and skein mussels and make preparations for baiting the long lines for the following day’s fishing. She would also sell fish directly to the public before returning home to look after her family, prepare meals and keep up with all the general household chores.

4: Whitby Sculpture Trail - Net Mender

At the bottom of Flowergate behing the Mountain Warehouse is the Net Mender – they were a regular sight to see around the harbour, repairing their nets after a long day out at sea, in all weathers. If the fishing gear was damaged it needed immediate repair – otherwise, no work the next day meant no pay!

5: Whitby Sculpture Trail - The Gansey Knitter

The Gansey Knitteris on St. Hilda’s Terrace, outside Flowergate Church. The ‘gansey’ knitted by the fishermen’s wives were made from tightly spun 5-ply worsted wool, knitted on 4 needles (with no seams) to protect the fishermen from the strong elements out at sea. Each town/village had its very own distinctive pattern. If a fisherman was lost/found injured at sea, his gansey would help identify where he was from.

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe

6: Whitby Sculpture Trail - Frank Meadow Sutcliffe

At the top of Skinner Street, opposite West Cliff Church is a famous Whitby Victorian photographer, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe who captured the very essence of everyday life, particularly that of the local fishermen and their families. Recognised as being one of the finest photographers of his day, for which he won many awards from the world-wide exhibitions, his skill is still most evident through his collection of photos depicting daily life for the local fishing community.

The Crows Nest Lookout

7: Whitby Sculpture Trail - The Crows Nest Lookout

This is on West Cliff by the paddling pool past the Whitby Pavilion next to the North Sea. Invented in 1807 by William Scoresby Jnr., the crow’s nest afforded some protection from the harsh weather conditions that the ship’s navigator endured at the very top of the main mast! Although its invention was welcomed, nevertheless, the crow’s nest is somewhat a very different experience from the shelter afforded by the wheelhouses that today’s modern boats offer.

Dora Walker

8: Whitby Sculpture Trail - Skipper Dora Walker

On West Cliff just down the coast from the Crows Nest Lookout, by the Sunken Garden is Dora (1890-1980). She was famous for being noted as the very first female fishing boat skipper on the North East coast. She was also an author who penned her memoirs of nursing in WWI and she also wrote from her perspective about the history of the fishing communities in Whitby and on the North East Coast. Dora also owned and skippered her very own boat.

I found two books that may be by her on Amazon here

The Herring Lasses

9: Whitby Sculpture Trail - The Herring Lasses

Just below West Cliff on the north side of the river, close to the bandstand and the start of teh north pier are the Herring Lasses. From the early 1900s up to WWII when the welcome sight of the fishing fleet arrived in the harbour, the herring lasses (who travelled the East Coast) would be ready and waiting to start gutting and packing the day’s catch. Generally working in teams of three, two girls would gut and salt the herrings whilst the third girl packed the fish neatly and specifically in to barrels. The girls had to work as long as it took to get the work completed (which could be up to 15 hours) as the whole catch had to be gutted, salted and barrel packed in the same day.

Lobster Cage Mender

10: Whitby Sculpture Trail - A Mystery At The Bottom of The Abbey Steps

They are the nine Emma Stothard Sculptures, but while I was tracking them down (looking for the Penny Hedge actually) I discovered the similar but ungalvaised sculpture which I have shown above which seems to be someone mending a lobster trap.

I hope you have enjoyed walking through these amazing sculptures with me. I did it for real and hopefully one day you can get the chance as well.

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