History Of Pannett Park
Robert Elliott Pannett bought the land which was to become Pannett Park in 1902. It was then used mainly for orchards, nurseries and market gardens. Mr Pannett spent many years trying to persuade the Whitby Urban District Council to make it into a park which, he argued, would be good for local people and visitors alike. In his opinion the town needed somewhere sheltered from the sea winds where everyone could enjoy fresh air, trees and flowers in contrast to the cliffs and the beach. The Council, however, were unwilling to finance such a project and it was only when Mr (by then Alderman) Pannett died that anything was done. He set up a Trust to create the park and an art gallery which would house his art and other collections.
The park was designed by a firm of landscape designers and nurserymen
from Darlington, under the direction of Mr Walter Brydon, and the art
gallery by Hays and Gray, architects from Co. Durham. The latter also
designed the Museum which was built a little later behind the gallery by
the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society who wanted to move from
their cramped premises on the harbourside. The foundation stone for the
art gallery was laid in 1927 and it and much of the park were opened the
next year. Once the Museum was finished the Trust was wound up.
The design of the park proved robust and in essence it survived the changes which inevitably occurred in the ensuing 70+ years but, as was the case in public parks throughout the country, ever fewer resources were spent on care and maintenance. By the millenium the park was looking neglected. The Friends of Pannett Park, formed in 2005 set in train the bid for the HLF grant used in the park's restoration. As one item in that bid, an illustrated history of the park written by Anne Dennier was published in 2009 which is on sale at Holman's Book Shop, Skinner Street, Whitby. At the same time an exhibition on the times and achievements of Alderman Pannett was held in the Whitby Museum.
Written By: Anne Dennier