In 1872, William Fortune founded this tiny smokehouse in Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast. The smokehouse is still in its original Henrietta Street location today, run by the fifth generation of the Fortune family. It’s located near the foot of the 199 steps that lead up the cliff to the ruins of St. Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey, and people often stumble across it on the way to the famous landmark.
As you walk along Henrietta Street, you’ll start to notice the amazing combined smell of smoky oak wood shavings and the fish (and bacon) that are being smoked. If the wind is right you can smell it across the estuary of the River Esk. Today the smokehouse makes smoked salmon, smoked haddock, and smoked bacon, and of course smoked herrings to make its famous kippers.
The once-booming herring fishery in Europe’s North Sea has long collapsed due to overfishing, so the herring is sourced from the North Atlantic. (Local fishing boats now concentrate on cod, haddock, and crustaceans.) But the kippers are produced without any artificial coloring and the smoke flavor comes only from the natural oak wood smoke, providing a traditional kipper that is hard to beat.
Walking into this fantastic shop is like walking into the 19th century. It is the last traditional smokehouse still standing in Whitby.
Know Before You Go
Located on the bank of the River Esk, about 415 feet from the foot of the famous 199 Steps leading up the East Cliff. Fortune's is open Monday through Saturday from 9-3 and Sundays from 10-2. If you are lucky, the large door to the rear of the shop will be open during your visit, allowing you a glimpse into the smokehouse itself.