Who Was Robert Elliott Pannett?
Pannett Park exists thanks to the generosity of Robert Elliott Pannett. A Whitby solicitor spent his life in local government and in service to his fellow townspeople. After 22 years as Clerk to the District Local Board he became a County Councillor and later Alderman. He was a J.P., a Director of Whitby and North Yorkshire Building Society, Chairman of Whitby Waterworks, a life Governor of the Cottage Hospital and a supporter of many charities.
When he learned that Chubb Hill Estate, then market gardens, was for sale, he bought it to give to the town. In his will dated October 1917 he arranged for it to become a public park. and if deemed expedient by my Trustees as a site for the erection of a public museum … for the reception and preservation of my water colour drawings, works of art, objects of natural history and other things …".
What he called the public museum is the Art Gallery, opened in 1928, while the present museum as a separate but adjoining building, a story in itself, was a later addition.
Pannett of course did not live to see his intent fulfilled. He died on 22nd July 1920 and was buried in Whitby cemetery four days later – there is a plain gravestone but no monument to mark the spot. His real monument is rather to be seen as one stands on the steps of the Art Gallery and looks over the park towards the town of which he was so noteworthy a son.