Whitby Lifeboat


Whitby CoastGuard Station


On the 30th of July 2010, the Whitby Gazette reported the demolition of the CoastGuard Lookout Station situated on the East Cliff, marking the end of an era in Whitby's coastguard history. The photographs below show the station before its demolition, albeit looking only in need of some attention.

A Prominent Station For Many Years
In Need Of Some TLC

The station has stood in place for so long it was pretty much a Whitby landmark. Although predominantly placed on the East Cliff the lookout station's future looked bleak as a result of cliff erosion. As the land in front of the station continued to disappear there was a danger that left alone the station might fall over the edge and down the prominent 200 feet cliff.

In April 2009 the Gazette featured news that the former coastguard lookout station on the East Cliff could soon be demolished? Several meetings had already taken place between the council and HM Coastguard Maritime and Coastguard Agency as to the future of the station. A separate organisation, Coastwatch, wanted to construct a new lookout station on top of the small flat roof structure adjoining the existing building but was not interested in the larger lookout station because of its proximity to the cliff edge.

Whitby Town Council's planning committee recommended approving the plans to knock down all buildings on the site to ground level, whilst The Coastguard Maritime and Coastguard Agency agreed to finish the demolition with a suitable coating of top soil seeded with grass.  The building had not been used as a lookout tower since the new Coastguard offices opened almost four years ago. With the building being close to the edge of the cliff it was agreed that it would be difficult to re let it and left alone it would undoubtedly succumb to vandalism and be a liability for the council. The Cleveland Way footpath used to run alongside the front of the station, the photograph to the right however shows the perilous nature of cliff face erosion.

One Moment

THE demolition of Whitby's former coastguard station was a sad occasion for Craig Allison who spent 30 years as the station's officer from 1973 until he retired in 2001 serving for the next two years on a part time basis.

He said: "There was never a day when I didn't want to go to work and I'm sad that it's gone, the station gave a good service."
As the the sector officer in charge, Mr. Allison looked after eight coastguard stations from Redcar down to Scarborough.
"I was the only regular officer but we also had auxiliary coastguard's who were all unpaid volunteers."
The auxiliaries included a schoolteacher, two retired sea captains, a sergeant from RAF Fylingdales and a housewife.
The coastguard station was built in 1911 and served as a signal station for the Admiralty.
The story of the shelling of Scarborough Castle in World War One in 1914 by the German fleet is well-known but it's perhaps less well-known that the Germans also sent a shell through the Whitby coastguard station, killing coastguard Frederick Randall.
The Whitby station was the headquarters for the north east coastguard service from Durham to Lincolnshire and was continuously manned.
It continued to be the headquarters until 1974 but then the headquarters were moved to the coastguard station on the River Tees and again, more recently to Bridlington.
Mr Allison recalled an incident when a Scarborough fishing boat, the Admiral Von Tromp, ran aground on the rocks at Saltwick's Black Nab.
But the Whitby lifeboat was launched and all the crew were rescued.
He also remembered when the coastguard houses on Whitby's East Cliff were occupied by regular coastguard's and officers and there was also a radio room and wireless mast there.
Mr Allison served in the Merchant Navy for 15 years and in 1967 was third officer on a general cargo ship called the Egton, the last ship owned by Whitby ship owners, the Headlam family.
He said: "We went aground in Robin Hood's Bay due to engine failure and were towed off by a tug.
"The ship's master was also a Whitby man, Captain Stanley Jackson. The ship was quite badly damaged."
Mr Allison now lives in Captain Cook's Crescent in Whitby where new coastguard offices opened four years ago.

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