Sculpture trail telling story of fishing industry to come to Whitby

Seven wireframe statues telling the story of Whitby’s fishing industry will be placed around the town as part of a new heritage trail.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:01 pm
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:29 pm
Emma Stothard with a previous sculpture. Picture by Richard Ponter
Emma Stothard with a previous sculpture. Picture by Richard Ponter

Local sculptor Emma Stothard has partnered with Scarborough Council for the project which would see visitors use a companion app to scan QR codes at the seven sites to find out more about the works of art and their links to the town’s history.

The council’s planning committee yesterday (Thursday) gave planning permission for the sculptures, subject to no material objection from Whitby Town Council being forthcoming.

The approval of North Yorkshire County Highways to place the sculptures at various locations will also be required.

A sculpture will be placed at each of the following locations: the west side of the Swing Bridge, the bottom of Flowergate, in front of Church House, the junction of John Street and Skinner Street, the Old Wishing Well, grass at Whitby Pavilion and the Khyber Pass Band Stand.

Mrs Stothard would create seven individual sculptures to tell the story of the fishing industry.

These will include a fisherwife, a man mending a net, a woman knitting a gansey, photographer and artist Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, a crow’s nest with a lookout, Dora Walker (the only woman to hold a skipper’s licence in the North Sea during World War One) and a herring lassie.

The planning committee praised the quality of the sculptures though there were concerns about how to ensure they were not vandalised and were properly maintained.

Whitby Cllr Sue Tucker (Lab) showed the committee photos of an existing sculpture by Mrs Stothard that was located in Whitby which appeared to have been vandalised and had padlocks clipped to it.

She said: “It did have padlocks on it but I’m told that’s not vandalism because people are doing it now but it is a concern for the future as Scarborough Borough Council is going to have to maintain them.”

Cllr Tucker added she was worried that children could climb on the structures and fall off.

Conservative Cllr Phil Trumper said the statues would boost the town.

He said: “I think it is great for Whitby. It will drag people out to areas that perhaps they wouldn’t visit and increase the footfall in streets that they aren’t visiting.”

The plans were approved pending a maintenance schedule being agreed and backing being secured from the town council and Highways.