Have You Ever Been To…?

After requests from several readers, Stories From Scarborough is aiming to add some new attractions to its growing list. In order to do this effectively, the project needs your help!

Have you ever been to, or do you know anything about the following former attractions:

1) The Corner Cafe

Scarborough’s Corner Cafe opened on June 5th, 1925. It was opened by the then Mayoress. Located on the corner between Peasholm Gap and the North Sands, there couldn’t be a more suitable place for a cafe during the busy summer season.


Above: The early days of the Corner Cafe (from the author’s collection)

In 1967 it hit the news courtesy of an incredible miniature railway exhibition that consisted of 100 trains, an entire mile of track, 8000 tiny people (models naturally!) and a whole array of landscapes based on real and imaginary places. Designed by Mr Bertram Otto it cost £6000 to build and attracted 100,000 visitors over the first summer season on display. Following this success the cafe became a popular club venue, hosting live music and entertainment. Singers, acrobats and folk groups all joined the bill, and the venue had a reputation for showcasing local talent as well as bigger names. It was demolished in 2007 and replaced with apartments and shops, although the cafe itself closed a number of years earlier.

2) Scalby Mills Amusements

In 1963 local amusements king Albert Corrigan engineered the Scalby Mills Development – which involved the creation of various family-friendly attractions, including a cafe, paddling pool and astroslide. The complex was built at the far end of Scarborough’s North Sands.

Above: Entertainment for all at Scalby Mills (source)

This attraction required the land to be levelled, and in the process Scarborough lost local landmark Monkey Island, and the North Bay (Miniature) Railway terminus changed accordingly. However, the site was once again developed to make way for today’s Sea Life Centre, which opened in 1991, and remains a popular attraction to this day.

3) The World Of Holograms

Located upstairs in Corrigans Amusements (South Bay seafront), this bizarre attraction featured lighting and visual illusions.

Above: The World of Holograms in 1992, donated by Leonie (source)

Stories From Scarborough has thus far been unable to establish the dates of operation for this attraction, or indeed any substantial amount of information about it.

4) Peasholm Park Tree Walk

A popular summer evening event at Peasholm Park, the Tree Walk, or Tree Walk Wonderland as it was otherwise known opened in 1953 at the cost of £7,000.

It was the most amazing place to visit. On the island in Peasholm Park. Only able to visit at night. Had to pay to cross the bridge, high bridge walks amongst the trees and illuminated scenes, some moving. It was magical as a child. We were allowed to visit on our last night before going home, if we had been good.

A reader’s memory (source)

This attraction enjoyed great success, particularly in the 1960s and 70s, but eventually closed in 1990. It took visitors up onto the island at the centre of Peasholm Lake where they could view a number of illuminated displays. Even the waterfall had its own set of coloured lights.

Above: Some of the illuminations; from a distance (source)

5) The Madhouse

A wacky attraction on the seafront, on the South Side, where visitors could confront backwards escalators, wobbly floors and a whole range of hilarious obstacles. Its signage was red and yellow. The Madhouse caused controversy in 1981 by displaying a waxwork model of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe – according to the Scarborough News, this attracted many complaints. Dates of opening and closure have so far eluded Stories From Scarborough.

The inclusion of these attractions in the project will depend upon the availability of information and sources. This is where you, the readers can really help. No matter how vague or uncertain the memory, even if you recall a snippet or a single sentence, please send it in. Every lead is potentially helpful, especially given that many of these attractions are not very well documented.

The information on this page comes from readers and old newspaper articles in the Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library.


20 thoughts on “Have You Ever Been To…?

  1. The tree walk! I kind of thought I’d imagined it. We only went once… It would have been late summer in 1988 I think, as my (now not so) little brother was just a few weeks old. I remember it so clearly and we always wanted to go again. I’d love to know more about it!

      • I remember it well ,we holidays in Scarborough for several yrs running in the 1970s, there used to be a flee circus on the island…it was a magical place for kids, also remember the naval battles in the park and its a knockout taking place in some sort of outdoor theatre, I also remember going to the outdoor pool in north bay then going to the cafe on the corner by the beach for a hot drink to warm up, I also remember a stall or van that used to sell hot fresh waffles by the beach. I’m sure at somepoint there were dinosaurs in a park or amusement place as well, also trips out to Scarborough mere to sail on the pirate boat to treasure island to dig for treasure, such great memories…..one happy childhood x

      • Thanks for commenting Sharon. You are right in remembering the dinosaurs – they were part of Scarborough Zoo (on the hill close to Manor Gardens and the North Bay), which later became Marvel’s Amuseument Park.

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  9. I remember in the 1970’s Peasholm Park held Battleship displays with model aeroplanes suspended on wires overhead bombing the ships. I was only small and it was amazing to see. The tree walk was absolutely magical, there was a ‘flea circus’ as one of the exhibits and a green steam traction engine at the top of the hill as well as the pagoda.
    I remember there was an area of water at the back of the park with a big water chute/ dipper, in which you got soaked, and I think there was a sort of outdoor theatre there where they held a version of ‘it’s a knock out’. The model train ran nearby. I spent many happy summers there in a hired beach chalet on the north bay scrambling the cliffs to the lift. Great times.

    • Brilliant – thanks for sharing your memories with Stories From Scarborough! It’s particularly good to hear about the tree walk, as I don’t have much detailed info on this attraction yet.

  10. I remember going in the Madhouse in the late 70’s or early 80’s, when I was very young, and being too scared to proceed beyond the large room with the two front facing windows because it was so dark in there. My dad eventually paid to go in as well and walked me through the rest of the “attraction”, and my memory is that it was just a pitch black maze with nothing else in there to see or do at all before the slide at the end. I thought at the time and for several years afterwards that it was nothing more or less than an especially cheeky rip-off to part unsuspecting day trippers from their money, but maybe it was intended for an older and wiser demographic who could make their own entertainment once inside ? 😉

    • Interesting to hear your memories – I also visited the Madhouse as a young child, but can’t remember anything about it. Maybe this is because, like you say, there wasn’t really very much inside! Thanks for sharing.

  11. My family, and by that I mean uncles/aunts/cousins, used to go to Scarborough every second year in the late 70s/early 80s, and this site brought back a lot of memories. The drive down there from Scotland, up the electric brae then two weeks of sun (humour me), sand and sea, with the only drawback being the fact that the guest house repeated it’s menu weekly, so if you did not like something you knew it was coming back round again.

    I stumbled into this site as I was looking to go back to do a bit of work and thought I may take the family so went to see all the things we used to do. While I know things never stand still, it was disappointing to see how many of the attractions I remember are gone now.

    1) The lido
    2) The Atlantis? (not sure which name it was using at the time)
    3) Marvels
    4) Its a Knockout
    5) The tree walk
    6) The flea circus
    7) The North Bay funicular railway.
    8) The corner cafe
    9) The guest houses, we always stayed at the Bydand on Trafalgar Square, where there were a lot of them, but looking now they are gone.
    10) The Mad House
    11) Donkey rides on the beach, South Bay.

    I have even heard scary rumours that the naval battle at Peasholm Park is now PC, with the Germans replaced as the baddies. Tell you the truth I was always a little confused at how the planes were Harriers, but the battleship was from WWII.

    The big shows at the theatre, the summer specials with ‘stars’ of the tele and the nights at the Working Mens Clubs that my dad seemed to have universal membership of or in the private bar of the guest house eating toasted sandwiches and drinking shandy.

    I don’t remember ever being bored, but rose tinted specs perhaps,

    • Wow thanks for sharing so many details about your memories – I’d love to write more about the tree walk, flea circus and It’s a Knockout in particular, but struggling to find enough concrete details or images in relation to these. Hope you manage to visit with your family this year!

      • This article brought back so many childhood memories of holidays in Scarborough back to me. We used to rent a holiday flat in one of the big houses overlooking North Bay in the 70s. Me and my sister would be allowed to go down to the swimming pool on the corner next to the corner cafe in the mornings whilst my mum and gran got themselves ready for the day. We’d spend days on the beach, mostly north bay, occasionally going to South Bay for the arcades and boat trips. We spent many hrs in peasholm Park, watching the navel battles and in the evening when it was transformed into a magical place.. Going over to the island and seeing the flea circus.. Ha ha I really believed they were real and would spend ages trying to see them.. My gran would say they moved to quick for us to see. Evening walks along the beach would finish with a freshly cooked waffle covered in cream and bananas from a stall somewhere near the cafe.was lucky enough to see its a nockout on a couple of occasions, the atmosphere was amazing.. Everybody joining in shouting and encouraging the contestants. Memories that have stayed with me my whole life x

  12. Oh Scarborough – Loved it as a child for our annual magical two weeks away. Ellen Smith coaches took us from Rochdale on our annual pilgrimage to the East coast setting off at 8am for a four hour journey!

    As kids my mum had bought us new clothes for our holiday and we looked so smart on the back seat of the coach,watching out for DK registered cars (Rochdale’s Reg) on the motorway and the A roads.

    We hired a chalet on the North side for the fortnight and each and every day there, playing on the sand, exploring the rock pools, eating waffles from Scarborough’s Famous waffle shop and playing tennis (as it was usually Wimbledon fortnight when we were there).

    In the evening we would walk from our Holiday Flatlet on Trafalgar Square to the South shore to play on the amusements and grab a fish supper on the way back.

    We would always take in a show at one of the Theatres although in all our visits, 12 years to be exact I can only remember seeing Cannon and Ball and Marty Wilde, Bobby Knut and the carry on team.

    Peasholm park, as people have already mentioned, was a magical place. The tree top walk and the naval battles live long in the memory as does my dad telling me the man who played the organ in the middle of the lake had to swim there every day! (I believed that for years!)

    Always hated going home and thinking of the times we had there does bring a nostalgic tear to my eye …..Scarborourgh created the magic that etched memories on my heart.

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