Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ginnels in Robin Hood's Bay! Wots them?

The're called Ginnels", the person saId to the group,  pointing down one of the streets down the bottom of bay bank.

Even one of the information boards in the national park caravan states that the narrow streets and alleyways in Bay are called "Ginnels".  This is wrong!!  They are NOT called ginnels here.  Ginnels is is a West Yorkshire word describing alleys and not a word used in any shape or form on the north east coast  It is not used in York either but I understand it is used in Harrogate.

I was born in Whitby, and spent most of my life there and  now live in Bay,  I have never heard the word Ginnels used locally other than by folk from west Yorkshire.   Just to be certain I  consulted a couple of my relatives, both have been life long residents in the village, one, now in his eighties  is probably the oldest long term resident of Bay . I've also checked with other native speakers in Scarborough, RHB, Whitby & Staithes.  Not one  of those consulted identified 'ginnels' as a word they would use locally to describe ANY feature along the NE coast let alone alleyways or passageways.

Nor is it an older word no longer used as none of the older books on Whitby (such as Charlton"s History....etc.,) & the coast contain the word, or more recent offerings such as 'A History of Robin Hood's Bay  by B.Farnill published by the NYMNP  (1960's) or , Robin Hood's Bay As I have known it, by R P Pennock (2002), another life long local family with long family tradition of living here.

The word 'Yard' is a description  is the word used in Whitby to describe narrow passageways between rows of houses, such as Blackburns Yard and so on, along with 'Ghaut' which describes a yard which leads down to the harbour or foreshore.   However neither of these words have ever been used locally in RHB to describe narrow passages or streets.

In York, Staithes, Whitby,  Scarborough, & RHB  or indeed further inland on the moors, the nearest word would be 'snicket
 "'  but this is used more in the countryside locally for gaps and shortcuts.

Most of us would simply describe the named alleys and passages simply as streets, allyes or lanes.  A snicket might connect two lanes though!.

So please use the right word!!

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