Monday 23 November 2009


From the Whitby Times of Friday 5th of November 1869, 140 years ago to the month. A popular performance by Professor Overton, the three-headed man, at Castleton Temperance Hall.

Wednesday 18 November 2009


Although concrete might at first seem to be a wholly impractical and rather cumbersome material to use in shipbuilding, in fact it makes a lot more sense than you might think. For boats over 25 feet long its often the cheapest and easiest material to employ. It doesn't need a weatherproof coating and it won't rust. Also a 30ft, 8 ton displacement vessel made of wood or concrete will weigh the same.

The Creteblock at Whitehall Shipyard in the 1940s

During ther First World War steel stocks were low. The British Admiralty ordered some support vessels to be made of concrete. Two were built at Whitehall Shipyard in Whitby, but by the time they were completed in 1919 the war was over.
The wreck of The Creteblock on Whitby Scar is a familiar sight to anyone who has walked along the rocks to Saltwick Bay at low tide. In fact this vessel was not one of those from The Whitehall Shipyard. The Creteblock was built in Essex. She was too late to see active war service and was used as a tug before being sold to a Teesside shipyard.

Brought to Whitby in the 1930s she remained there, a decaying hulk until 1947. She was towed out to sea to be scuttled but abandoned before deep water could be reached. She now lies battered and broken, crewed only by barnacles, limpets and mussels in her final resting place beneath Whitby's imposing cliffs..

Monday 9 November 2009


All known living things are divided into five major groups, known as Kingdoms. Monera and Protista contain tiny, primitive organisms such as the various types of bacteria and other microbes. Animals and Plants are well known to us and relatively easy to identify.

The remaining Kingdom is Fungi. Unlike plants, Fungi cannot produce their own food by photosynthesis. Instead they absorb nutrients from their surroundings. They do not need the sun and they thrive in dark, damp places. Hence the black mould around your bath, the white coat of fluff on that orange that's been in the fruit bowl too long, and nasty, itchy Athlete's Foot.

Nevertheless a short Autumn walk in an area of woodland such as that around Falling Foss can yield beautiful examples of Fungi. The old deciduous trees around the waterfall (largely oak, birch and ash etc.) provide ample sustenance, whether alive or dead and decaying. Also the leaf litter that blankets the forest floor in Autumn hides many interesting surprises if you take time to look.

The Beefsteak Fungus Piptoporus betulinus

The Common Puffball Lycoperdon perlatum

The Birch Bracket Fungus Ganoderma applanatum

The Cep Boletus edulis