The landslip that threatens Whitby’s famous harbour

THESE pictures show the dramatic impact of the recent torrential weather that battered the seaside town of Whitby causing landslips and flooding.

Land close to the historic St Mary’s Church, which overlooks the harbour, dropped away at the end of last year during deluges, bringing earth crashing down the hillside.

Later, another piece of the hillside fell away with some debris hitting buildings belonging to Fortune’s Kippers, on Henrietta Street.

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Work has now begun removing the spoil that has gone down to the bottom of the cliff.

Revd Canon David Smith, of St Mary’s said: “Its work to cope with the aftermath of the landslip.

“The work really is to remove the spoil that has gone down to the bottom of the cliff and put a catchment fence at the back.”

Once that is completed work will begin to try to prevent such a thing happening again. Revd Smith said investigations had shown the problem was not linked to drainage from the church itself.

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“Its water coming in through the churchyard, probably from the headlands,” he said.

He said there was however, no threat to the church itself.

“Its been there for 900 years,” he said.

The church, is a familiar sight on picture postcards as it sits next to Whitby’s famous abbey, high above the harbour.

Thousands of tourists every year trek up the 199 steps which link the church and the abbey to the sea.

Rainwater was left pouring out of the ancient graveyard and down the cliff at the end of last year. The church’s graveyard has been closed to burials since the 18th century.

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It is a separate landslip from one further along the east cliff in Whitby which left a terrace of five houses needing to be demolished.

The gardens in front of the five homes on Aelfleda Terrace slid 30ft down towards the harbour in the early hours of November 27.

The decision to knock down the former jet workers’ cottages on the terrace was taken after their patio gardens disappeared and they were condemned by engineers.

The historic cottages had to be painstakingly demolished brick by brick.

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Jude Knight, who had lived on the street for 26 years, was the only permanent resident. The other properties were holiday cottages.

In December an extraordinary meeting of Whitby Town Council was called amid fears about landslips on the east side of Whitby.

At the time fears were growing for the safety of Whitby’s cliffs and its 140-year-old kipper house Fortune’s Kippers after slips which sent land and human bones tumbling down from St Mary’s Church graveyard.

Whitby Mayor, John Freeman, told the meeting: “People are suffering from the loss of their homes and the loss of business.”

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Barry Brown, co-owner of Fortunes, told the meeting it was only his premises holding back a “wedge of mud” that was threatening to descend on the rest of Henrietta Street.

After December’s meeting Scarborough Borough Council said a dedicated team of borough council officers had spent hundreds of hours in the past two weeks tackling and managing the effects of the landslip at Aelfleda Terrace.

There had been regular liaison with affected residents, homeowners and businesses and a site visit for local councillors, the local authority said.