Despite the fact that there are over 300 known historical jet mines along the coast and within inliers of Jurassic rocks in the North York Moors Park, Whitby Jet has not been mined since the late C19th.
Victorian jet mines were not propped, relying on the Top Jet Dogger, a slightly harder limestone strata to support the roof. Please do not be tempted to enter a mine as they are incredibly dangerous
Our Whitby cliffs are oil shales and as such very friable. Cliff-falls are frequent and can be deadly. Please stay away from the cliffs and don’t be tempted to remove jet of fossils from the cliffs. If you see a ladder or rope, do not be tempted to descend it
The wave-cut platform below your feet is owned by the crown. Most of the cliffs are owned by private landowners, therefore, it is an offence to remove material from the cliffs or wave-cut platform. We can, however, collect loose material from the beaches where it accumulates (if we are lucky) as a result of tidal action with other flotsam and jetsam. This is not, however, an exact science and the amount of material available to us is small and rather unpredictable. Identifying Whitby Jet in the sea-washed deposits can also be rather tricky for the inexperienced, especially when we consider that there are many other hydrocarbons also on our beaches including lignites, cannel coals and sea coals not to mention the poor quality jet which isn’t jewellery grade.
Most of the beaches where jet can be found are accessible two hours before low tide. Ensure you know the tide times before venturing out. The best place to find jet is on the tide line. Almost all the stones on our beaches are black when wet so its useful to take a piece of wet and dry sandpaper along with you. Whitby Jet draws light brown, coal draws black and stones draw white!