Scarborough’s seafront Madhouse attraction, which operated between the 1970s and early 1990s, has proved to be one of the most difficult to track down in historical records.
Operated by fairground entrepeneur Charles Enoch Doubtfire, this attraction challenged visitors to navigate a wacky darkened maze.
Thanks to Jeff, who once worked at the attraction, Stories From Scarborough can now share a photograph of the exterior:
Captioned, in Jeff’s words: The Madhouse, Sandside Summer 1983….Happy days!!
Furthermore, Jeff has kindly contributed a description of what it was like to work there:
I worked at the Madhouse in the early 80’s for Enoch, it was amongst the most fun filled days of my life. I own what are possibly the only surviving photos of the place (taken in Summer 83) and I have recently posted it on Facebook. The Madhouse was basically a very dark Maze, you went in through a small arcade, behind the “Pay-Box, up the stairs, past two windows and had to work your way through the dark and rather smelly passages!
It was a very popular place for us young guys to chat to the girls (I lost count to be honest) although it wasn’t without controversy. The place was used as a toilet (literally) and often utterly STANK!!
All in all, I loved my time working for Enoch, he was a proper character that I got on very well with and have wonderful happy memories of!!
As have some other Stories From Scarborough readers:
*Please note, many readers have expressed their uncertainty over memories about attractions, so comments are taken as impressions of the attraction, rather than concrete facts, which are difficult to establish due to the lack of formal documentation about the Madhouse – feel free to agree, disagree or discuss in the comments section.
There was a slippery pole and like a rotating wheel
(Comment left by Suzie, via the Facebook Page)
I loved the Madhouse, there was a spinning disk that you sat on and a spinning tube that stuck you to the wall. Also moving walk ways and stairs.
(Comment left by Alison, via the Facebook Page)
Remember the spinning top in the Madhouse which threw you off as it got faster. Doubt it would be allowed now as there seemed to be no upper limit to speed, it only stopped when the last one to fly was off ! (usually a strong teenager). By this time it was spinning so fast you hit the outer wall with an almighty thump, and not before skinning your elbows on the cocoa matting which I suppose was there to slow you down by pure friction! Also if you came off first you were bombarded by the boddies of older, heavier children! Also liked the wobbly walkways, and a kind of revolving tube you walked through – if you fell you got tumbled around much to the amusement of other kids. Oh yes I just remembered there was a kind of slide “wall of death” thing; it was completely vertical but rounded out at the bottom to catch you as you fell, a bit like a large BMX ramp nowadays. It took a bit of nerve to sit on the edge and launch into freefall, but once you knew there was no thump at the bottom it was addictive. At the end of it all I was drenched with sweat and totally hyper – I remember my dad ordering me a pint of dilute orange and I sank it in one go like some TV darts players. He still mentions it to my kids 40 years later.
(Comment left by Mark via the website)
I remember the funhouse on Scarborough foreshore. It had weird things in there, dark corridors and a big spinning wheel in the centre that threw you off as it went faster. I used to go there with my sister when we were both about 11 or 12.
(Comment left by Valerie via the website)
Regarding the last comment, and some made by visitors to the Facebook Page, it seems that there may be some confusion between the Madhouse and a different attraction called the Funhouse – some have stated that this was a separate attraction, although as yet it has been impossible to find information to confirm or deny this.
Can you clarify any of the details above? Email or comment below.