Detail - Centre of Whitby - 1740 - Map by Wooler
One of the Museum's hidden assets is the collection of over 2000 maps and plans, the majority of which are local or regional and are a very important resource for anyone studying local history and are also consulted by utilities when preparing environmental impact statements or carrying out excavations in the locality. The collection includes early maps of Whitby, many large scale maps, geological maps and copies of early maps of Yorkshire. Whilst some are on display in the Museum the entire collection may be studied by apointment throughout the year. Enquire through reception (telephone 01947 602908).
A new map index is now available which aims to assist researchers by listing maps under a number of headings. The Archaeological, Geological and Astronomical are regarded as specialist areas, whereas the main collection starts with World maps, followed by Oceans, Continents, Europe, British Isles, England, Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and ends with Whitby.
The maps of the World including Atlases from the early 18th century, the Continents and Europe reflect the involvement of Whitby seafarers, Captain James Cook particularly, but also the Scoresby family in the exploration and colonisation of the planet and the many wars in Europe.
The maps of the British Isles to North Yorkshire are of interest to those wishing to study the industrialisation of the 18th and 19th centuries in both a national and local context.
Detail - Francis Pickernell map of 1841
Corner of Pickernell map
The majority of the collection relates directly to Whitby and the surrounding area - defined loosely as that area bounded by Guisborough, Dogger Bank, Pickering and Rosedale. It includes tithe maps and awards, mine closure maps (mainly ironstone), drawings related to the alum industry, and drawings of public works, roads, railways, docks and hospitals. Our favourites however are "the dreams that died!", the huge Harbour of Refuge (early 19th century), the Whitby to Pickering Canal (1793). and the railways which although built were to close within 100 years.
The most consulted maps are the Ordnance Survey Maps from 1849 to 1950's and visitors should be aware that the Society does not have any maps which are currently available commercially.
Detail from proposed route of Whitby - Pickering canal - 1793