On February 23rd, 2003, hundreds of parents and children attended a march to protest against the proposed closure of Kinderland – Scarborough’s treasured attraction for children.
Above: Kinderland promotional material (source)
Above: One of the play areas at Kinderland (from the author’s personal collection)
By 2003, following a brief closure in 2001 and years of financial difficulties, Kinderland was sought after by developers Benchmark for the proposed North Bay Project, and Scarborough Council were considering offering the lease.
Above: One of the many proposal plans for the North Bay area (source)
Concerned at the prospect of losing Kinderland, local lady Norma Fedorowycz set about organising a petition and protest, eager to preserve the area for future generations of children. The (then) 67-year old, assisted by son Neil, managed to accrue 800 signatures within a matter of hours, and a website – Scarborough For Kids – was set up detailing the campaign. Unfortunately the site has long since been taken down.
Above: Kinderland frisbee (from the author’s personal collection)
Following plans made in early February, by the day of the march (on Feburary 23rd, 2003), the petition had over 1000 signatures and counting. Evidently Kinderland was held in high regard by local people.
Whilst acknowledging the possibility of redevelopment, the campaign emphasised that any future use of the Kinderland site should ideally provide a clean, safe and supervised area for children to play – affordable family-friendly entertainment. With the loss of popular attractions such as Marvel’s, Millennium, Atlantis and the pirate-themed trips along the Mere, Scarborough’s reputation as a family (and child) friendly resort was under threat.
The march was reportedly a well attended event.
Outside the Kinderland site on Burniston Road, children and parents sported handmade signs and chanted ‘Save Kinderland’ to the accompaniment of supporting hoots from passing motorists. One lady came all the way from Lancashire to support the march. Protestors proceeded from the park to the Corner, where, according The Scarborough News, supporters were to be rewarded with free ice cream and a magic show.
Above: The Corner Cafe, where the march ended – the cafe was demolished in 2007 to make way for flats (source)
Over ten years later, the site remains empty, although is reportedly still earmarked for development, as part of The Sands project.
On one hand it is very sad that Kinderland has been lost – it was popular with tourists and locals; a beloved part of Scarborough’s recent history, and yet its financial viability was arguably at odds with the rapidly changing tourist industry. Seaside resorts such as Scarborough now face stiff competition from bigger regional attractions, which are now widely accessibly to an increasingly mobile cohort of visitors. Likewise, affordable foreign holidays also continue to threaten the traditional British seaside holiday, and both councils and developers alike must seek out new ways to attract visitors.
My memories are of a Scarborough for children – there were lots of attractions specifically aimed at kids. When I return now, it seems to be moving towards embracing a more adult audience. Perhaps this is my imagination – resorts are constantly changing to stay financially viable, and as I don’t live in Scarborough (yet!) I’m not as knowledgeable about recent developments as I eventually hope to be. However, one of my aims in creating Stories From Scarborough is to find creative ways to celebrate Scarborough’s reputation as a magical place for children.
Do you remember the Kinderland march? Did you take part? Please comment below with memories, opinions and/or corrections!
The above text is largely based upon articles published in The Scarborough News