The History Of Whitby Regatta
The Whitby Regatta is probably the oldest sea Regatta in England and has drawn large crowds into Whitby over the years.
It started in a very small way with the fishermen competing against each other in their fishing smacks and salmon cobbles. Then came the yachts.
It was recorded in 1847 “The Whitby Challenge Cup”, promoted by the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club, was won by the Schooner “Whiled”, and a prize of 50 guineas was presented to the captain or owner.
Between that date and up to the nineteen thirties, yacht racing formed the greater part of the Regatta.
Unfortunately, due to the high cost of building these large yachts of approximately 20 tons, and a changing world, they slowly disappeared from the scene. The cost of maintaining such a yacht today must be astronomical.
It was about 1872 that competitive rowing came into being. In that year, the Jet Works Amateur Rowing Club was formed, 1874 saw the birth of Scarborough Amateur Rowing Club and in 1879 the Friendship Amateur Rowing Club.
Then came the Whitby Amateur Rowing Club in 1912, which later became the present day Whitby Fisherman’s Amateur Rowing Club.
All three Clubs are still going strong today, forming one of the main attractions of today’s Regatta.
Over the years, rowing clubs from the Tyne to Scarborough have participated in Regattas held on the North East Coast, sadly only two Regattas are still being held, Scarborough and Whitby.
In 1901 the late Alderman JET Wilson J.P – C.C. of West Hartlepool presented the “Wilson Cup”. valued at £25, for competition to Rowing Clubs based between the Tyne and Humber.
This is the most coveted trophy rowed for today. 1929 saw the first fancy dress and decorated carts, this was the forerunner of the present day regatta and carnival.
It is recorded that in 1900, 11,000 people travelled by special trains from the West Riding, York, Bridlington and Newcastle. Today that figure is estimated at 20,000, most travelling by coach and private car.
You Can Read Lots More On The Regatta Over At The Official Website.
Article and pictures compiled with the assistance of Whitby Memories Facebook Group.
Your Memories Of Whitby Regatta
- Rachel Atkinson – “I will happily find some pictures. My gran who sadly passed away in April this year did regatta fancy dress for 59 years, she cleaned up last year at her last regatta (2014) We will be putting the kids in this year in her memory as it would have been her 60th regatta. I’ll ask aunties/ parents for some photos”
- Tracie Weatherill – “Too many stories to put on here but my earliest memory is of all the men dressing up as women at our house for collecting and the football match, i used to be scared of them. But then years later playing against them for burberrys team. I have loads of pics of my dad and others“
- Chloe Mcdermott– “You could get on the Ferris wheel for 50p!“
- Jane Smith – “There were 3 Local Jazz Bands which were a common sight at the Regattas of the 70’s and 80’s. The Whitby Jets were the first and perhaps the most well known of all the Jazz Bands. The Harbour Lights And The Whitby Endeavours were set up in the following years. Prior to that there was a Jazz band called the Cleveland Militares which attended The Regattas for a great many years.“
- Kath Truman – In 1952, due to inclement weather, the whole Regatta Monday programme, including fair and fireworks was cancelled, and took place instead on the following Wednesday.
- Pamela Bolwerk – We were just talking about the changes that have come about in my lifetime. I was born in 1941 and remember when the Freak Show would travel with the fairground people to the Regatta. There was a bearded lady, a very dodgy, even to my young eyes, half man, half woman, similarly, a mermaid and all kinds of pickled foetuses, five legged calf and so on. Can you imagine letting kids in to that kind of thing today?
- Julie Jacques – There was some amazing floats in the 60’s and 70’s – the effort that went into them was brilliant, two that I remember from East Whitby School were ‘King Neptune’ and the ‘Old Woman who lived on a shoe’
- Pamela Bolwerk – I have been left Whitby a long time. Do they still have the coble races? I remember my cousin Bob Pennock rowing in the coble races. We sat in the window at Aunt Liz Pennock’s at 4 pier Road where we had an unobstructed view of all the races and shouted ourselves hoarse. “Away the Fisherlads!” When the crew of the coble stood up at the end of the race their shorts were covered in blood and their hands were blistered and bleeding. I know this was a long course that the men rowed, does anybody remember just how far and what cobles took part? I believe this race started outside the harbour in the open sea.
- Neil Salter – I was a stick of rock one year. Our mums threw 100s of bits of broken rock into the crowds & never injured anyone.
- Discuss Regatta in our Facebook group here.
Further Reading On Whitby Regatta
- Whitby Regatta News
- Whats On At Whitby Regatta
- The Red Arrows
- The Firework Display
- Rowing Races
- Discuss The Regatta Over In Our Facebook Group
Whitby Regatta Dates For The Coming Years
- 15th, 16th & 17th August 2015
- 20th, 21st & 22nd August 2016
- 19th, 20th & 21st August 2017
- 11th, 12th & 13th August 2018
- 10th, 11th & 12th August 2019
- 15th, 16th & 17th August 2020