Little Yellow Cottage – Update 9 – The Dracula Years

Lots of planning and material ordering going on now. With the exception of the lime plaster and limecrete and some small amounts of wood, all of the other items are sourced from old buildings and suppliers who specialise in material for elderly buildings such as me. New materials would have been inappropriate and controversial. 

Some would say that the material should reflect the techniques of the day and this would add to my history and I can see their point. Each new extension or modification over the centuries utilised contemporary materials and building techniques and these are not only being retained, they are also protected and must not be altered without express consent. All of this is irrelevant anyway as George is committed to using old materials and they’re being sourced as they plan.

The excitement of building using old materials reminds me of the controversies surrounding Whitby and some of the characters associated with this wonderful town. I’ve mentioned Bram Stoker and his prowling around the cemeteries in the 1890’s and the subsequent controversial book about Count Dracula that he produced using the alleyways and backstreets of Whitby as the backdrop to the horror.

This is the iconic image that preceded the film but all in vain

In 1920’s a silent version based on the book was produced although it was never seen in Whitby. It was filmed in a yard in Wisborg, Northern Germany and released in America late in the decade. I’m still a bit miffed about that, there were plenty of atmospheric areas behind me before the official vandalism of the 60’s when a lot of the buildings were torn down to make way for ‘modern’ building like the two either side of me!

Here’s a wonderful view of Boulby Bank around 1930s-ish

The film was retitled Nosferatu but stuck completely to the story but changed the names of the principal characters and the associated towns. Their choice of location was good but could easily have been better – ahem, see above and complement it with the Abbey and grounds!

Bram Stoker’s wife took a dim view of the whole project and despite its potential success she sued the production company putting them out of business and the court ordered that all reels of the film be destroyed; however, one survived and you can see it here:

My wonderful family had to wait until 1931 when it was remade with permission and released in the UK in May. There was much excitement when it was to be shown at the Coliseum Cinema as there had been reports of people fainting and collapsing through anxiety as they left the cinema in America and others would go home and spend the night looking out of their window for the dreaded shadowy figure in the mist.

Like me, the Coliseum has undergone a number of transformations and ‘improvements’. It had been built as a Temperance Hall 1887 where you could go and not drink! In 1912 it had been converted into a silent cinema complete with Fitton & Hayley 2Manual/5Ranks organ to accompany the films and add excitement to the overacting and word prompt placards.

The children of my occupants would talk with huge enthusiasm about the films that were coming and the evenings that they’d spent in that dusty auditorium. This was much to the chagrin of their parents who thought of it a waste of money and time. “You’d be much better off with a good book” would be their mantra.

The night they returned from the Dracula screening they spent a lot of time checking in my secret cupboards on the ground floor, especially the dark one under the stairs. It was several minutes before they gathered the confidence to creep up my spiral staircase into their room where they checked under the beds for lurking intruders and with a final anxious giggle they jumped into bed pulling the covers up to their chins where they laid with imaginations working overtime. Was the leaf or twig that was scratching against the window pane really a leaf? Then there was heart stopping panic as my floors and walls made strange clicking noises followed by abject terror as stairs creaked, they knew their parents would retire ‘up the wooden hill’ – but was that noise created by their parents…?

By the early 1920’s the cinema had been renamed the Coliseum then later in the century, when TV had taken such a hold and numbers were on the wane, it became a bingo hall, then back to a cinema, then bingo hall again until it was gutted and refitted in 2001 to start a new life as the wonderful community resource that it is today.

I’m happy that I’m being restored much like I was seventy years ago before the concrete and plastic were added. George has taken several weeks to strip the windows of the layers of paint that had accumulated over the years and dig out the putty that was as hard as granite. They should be re-glued to make them rigid again then painted with primer before reglazing; he’s hoping this will be done over the next couple of weeks and within a month he aims to have the wood that’s currently keeping the elements and bad guys out removed and the restored ones back in. I’ll be feeling and looking a lot better then.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

With Love, Little Yellow Cottage…x

You can read more about Dracula and other things by clicking Update 4

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3 thoughts on “Little Yellow Cottage – Update 9 – The Dracula Years”

  1. Did you get many admirers or busybodies on the rainy ☔ Saturday of the Tour ‘de Yorkshire ?

    • Sorry Ray, been in the Lakes. Yes, there was quite a number of people taking photos of me as well as the ‘Tour’ 🙂

  2. Another fascinating update for your fans Little Yellow Cottage, thank you. I think, of any job, preparing to renew things is the hardest bit, all that paint and putty to remove must be very hard work for George and not very nice for you. But you have to suffer for beauty as our late mother used to say and one day you will be beautiful again. Yes please let us know how it goes, take care x .


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