Skinner Street in 1883
From a talk by V.Seaton Gray Esquire in 1945, in the files of Whitby Naturalist's Club
|Mrs Botham had but lately opened this small shop, having previously
been in business in Fishburn Park. The previous occupiers of the Skinner
Street property had been Mrs Forrest, whose husband, Captain Forrest,
was master of the paddle tug "Emu" who, in turn, disposed
of the business to Mr Ralph B. Longhorn, baker and confectioner.
"There is a low paned window with an appetising display of cakes. We go down a step into the little dark shop, setting in motion a ding-dong-dangle bell which brings little square Mrs Botham, dressed all in black, out of a tiny room at the back which has a white curtained door.
"Already the fame of her wares has spread and there are times when it is impossible to get into the shop so that one has to wait on the pavement outside. Only the very best ingredients are used, and even a week-old pound of butter were sent in by one of the farmers' wives it would go, with Mrs Botham after it to speak her mind.
|"Could we but look some years ahead, we would be able to remark
the extra-ordinary and deserved success of her diligence, and see this
modest little shop converted into a palatial red-brick edifice of four
stories, and occupying a considerable frontage to the street. The more
northern portion contains the shop itself, with an "L"-shaped
counter and a great variety of cakes and pastries - in particular round
butter-cakes with a thick layer of sugar and butter between sponge cake,
and a top all ornamented with little horns of butter and sugar, the
whole confection quartered in pink and yellow.
"The southern portion of the frontage was occupied as a cafe, decorated within in ye-olde-worlde manner with oak tables and an ingleneuk. It has green and purple stained glass windows facing the street, which give it a gloomy atmosphere of an aquarium.
"But to return to the little shop - having made our purchases - we emerge into the sunlight to hear the sound of shouting from a yard just beyond the shop. Down the yard is the beerhouse, the Hole in the Wall, also administered by Mrs Botham, who from her little parlour keeps an eye on the taproom; and it is feared that the customers are likely to be troublesome......."