R.I.P John Justin Coope b. 30.06.1956. d. 16.12.2012

Justin, Church Street Fudge Man

RIP Justin. Another Whitby Character Gone, But Never To be Forgot

John Justin Coope, Master Chocolatier, generally known as Justin, who died on Sunday, 16th, December, 2012, was a well known and much loved figure, in Whitby which had been his home for more than 30 years.

There are many people who will be better qualified than myself to right a fuller obituary of this larger-than-life character, but I did know Justin, quite well in a casual way, either through our mutual liking for a quiet drink in the rear bar of the Black Horse.

Or by our daily contact on Church Street, when he would usually proclaiming his dissatisfaction with some aspect of the local scene, be it the follies of the Council, or the sudden, and to him, the inexplicable, popularity, with the public, of panninis, which he described to me as being ‘like eating damp face flannels’.

My last meeting with Justin was in the Black Horse on late Friday afternoon, I was engaged in conversation with another of Justin’s fans, Elaine Sendel ,when Justin burst through the door and flopped on the bar; we thought nothing of this at the time, as this kind of thing was not uncharacterstic of Justin.

I merely asked if he was feeling alright and offered to get him a chair. After a couple of drinks he regained his composure and explained that he was under a lot of pressure with Christmas being upon him, together with other pressing matters, he departed soon afterwards and I never gave, what turned out to be, our last meeting any more thought.

I was shocked to see an ambulance outside Justin’s shop early on the Sunday morning and devastated to learn that he had passed away.

Justin was born in Bollington in Cheshire,in 1956, his father John Coope M.B.E. was a GP, as had been his father, but Justin did not follow in the family tradition.

Justin’s father was a remarkable man in that he founded the famous Bollington Arts Festival, in 1964, which continues to this day.

He also wrote music and plays and was the author of a book about Chekov, he was awarded the M.B.E. for his many services to the community, and he was succeeded in his medical practice by Gerald, Justin’s brother.

Justin had many interests in life – music, fishing, current affairs, politics, the outdoors in general and walking, amongst many others.

He was also always keen to involve himself in local controversy – he organised the 2000 name petition against the Marina development in 2004 and, on occasion, spoke out against the neglect by the Council, of the infrastructure of Whitby, in particular the Swing Bridge closure, in 2010.

He was, despite his apparent gruffness, generally of good humour and was an amusing companion with a fund of good stories.

He could be guilty (as everyone can) of the hasty word, later regretted, but he was not a man to bear a grudge, and he was always ready to acknowledge his shortcomings in this department and to apologise when his comments had caused some minor offence.

Of late, his health had not been good. He had developed diabetes and had a lung condition which required him, on medical advice, to ‘roar like a lion’ which some found disconcerting.

He was being treated for his health problems and had recently changed his medication, but this did not seem to suit him and he had complained of frequent light headedness.

He had given up driving some time ago, as he also suffered from some kind of blackout problem, and he did not seem to be able to pursue his country walks of late, although his new canine companion, Rocky, was an encouragement to him in this respect.

He had plans for forming a band on the lines of The Pogues and had approached several local musicians with a view to them assisting him in this project.

We will all miss Justin, as Ken Graham remarked to me earlier today, ‘the community is dying, all the families have gone and now all the characters are dying’

9 Responses to "R.I.P John Justin Coope b. 30.06.1956. d. 16.12.2012"

  1. kathleen parker  December 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    A great character who will be so sadly missed R.I.P. Justin my thoughts are with your family.

  2. Nigel Ward  December 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Farewell, Jus. Your presence on Church Street – a fact of daily life – will be mourned and missed, yet in our memories long cherished – you cantankerous old romantic! Godspeed to you! And may the jewel of Church Street long prosper! With what a legacy you leave us. We thank you.


  3. Jackie Greaves  December 18, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I’m going to miss you so much Justin. Just can’t imagine Church Street without you. You ALWAYS made me smile. Heavens gain is Whitby’s loss.

  4. Ben laws  December 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    So sad that Justin passed away this week the street certainly won’t be the same without him we would sit and talk about all sorts of rubbish everyday in the Market kitchen or java he had so many funny storries and our trips to randymere fly fishing or cod fishing at filey or fishing aboard mistress with rich cope I will never forget as we had such a laugh and his new catch phrase of heel boy will never be heard on the street again it’s so sad to loose such a character so rest in peice Justin and tight lines bud from Ben Laura and all at the Market kitchen and java you will be missed

  5. admin  December 19, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Reading peoples comments there made me feel a little sad, but what is very evident is how much happiness he brought to peoples lives on a daily basis. I didn’t know him that well, having only spoke a handful of times, but what was apparent from those meetings was that this man was a true character in every sense of the word, the type you only find in Whitby. Its nice to hear that he brightened up peoples lives on a daily basis,and Im sure hes doing that right now where ever he is. RIP Justin.

  6. David Perry  December 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I remember a very slim Justin and his opening of the fudge shop.

    I also remember his first attempt at killing the flies that used to visit the shop. He’d hung fly paper over the open tubs of fudge. Looking up I noticed that the fly paper was working. But…..there were several sets of wings and assorted legs stuck to the paper – the owners of which, had obviously not flown away! Underneath the fly paper was a tub of raisin fudge. “Would you like some?”. “Err.. Not thanks Justin, I think I’ll have some of that plain fudge over there in the corner”.

  7. pete budd  December 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Justin does not want to go to Scarborough.

  8. Clara Flemons  January 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I was fortunate enough to work for Justin in all 3 of his shops ,dipping gingers into dark chocolate, trays of delightful rose cremes and other fondants to , rolling and cutting multi-couloured marzipans all individual & hand made.
    The memorable Justin’s Fudge Cannon balls to slice into , they were about the size of a Christmas Pudding !!
    Justin’s first little shop had a Dickensian personality all of its own and attracted many visitors to call in and sample the sweet treats , many having just ascended from counting the Abbey Steps. Inside the shop childrens’ eyes widening at the many many mouth watering delights.

    When Justin first opened his little Church Street shop he was the original fudge & toffee maker specialist in Whitby , never to be matched by inferior substitutes……

    Later I helped Justin in the opening of the double fronted Church Street shop where for a while he also sold sandwiches and quick lunches for locals & passing day trippers. Eventually turning it into a beautiful chocolatiers where delightful dark milk and white chocolates could be bought , placed into stunning boxes that Justin offered as an extra service for that extra special occasion.

    He had an excellent eye for ‘the beautiful’ and knew a good idea when he saw or thought of it , often driving off into the night to Belgium to learn more about chocolate and it’s timeless temptation.
    Justin then opened the Bar Street shop in Scarborough in a lovely historic building , he would drive me through if he had other business in the town and then collect me at the end of the day returning to Whitby. These journeys were always fun filled with much chatter and laughter as we exchanged our funny tales .
    Justin also gave my eldest son his first job, taking him under his wing…. he did with many many young people helping them start their first days of employment .

    Justin was a good ,generous and kind hearted man who was also motivated & passionate , standing up to be counted for any cause that moved him.

    After I moved away to York I would always call into the shop when visting Whitby to see Justin where he would give me his latest delicacy to try , always good Justin.

    Returning for the final goodbye I learned so much more of the private side of Justin.
    The Requiem Mass was beautiful, Frankincense swirling around the altar and through the aisles in St.Ninians , the pews full to bursting with friends and Justin’s family.

    A unique service perfect for Justin.
    Singing hymns & Christmas Carol’s , a folk song sang especially for him .
    Anecdotal memories were told by Justin’s brothers filling the church with laughter and tears …quiet moments of prayer and personal thoughts of fondness for him.
    After the Scarborough service the Wake followed at the Friendship Club an afternoon and eve of more memories shared , songs sang in celebration of Justin’s life.
    The second son of a family of six children he was greatly loved , the warmth and love for him was felt by all….

    It is true that Church Street will not be the same without Justin ….because he gave such a lot to Whitby and will remembered with fondness for many many years to come….his lovely fare will continue to be enjoyed , as his wish was always to keep the shops open for us all. Thankyou Justin.

  9. Anne Evans  January 11, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Just heard the bad news and very saddened by his sudden death. Met Justin in February 2007 on holidays and kept in touch – met yearly. He will be greatly missed by ourselves a larger than life character. They broke the mould when Justin was born. A great loss.


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whitby photography by glenn kilpatrick