Marvel’s Now

Photographs of the derelict Marvel’s site by far outnumber images of its glory days online.

All of the images in this post (except one) are the artist’s own and must not be reproduced without permission.

Above: The former Marvel’s site (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Derelict sites are a magnet for photographers, but also for those seeking out things to vandalise and destroy.

Above: A vandalised chairlift strut (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Marvel’s is easy prey for both. The site is easily accessible via a steep road, just opposite the miniature railway station at the Northstead Manor Gardens entrance.

Above: Looking down the road to Marvel’s – train station at the bottom (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

At the top is a huge stretch of empty land – presumably grey and barren during the winter, but in the summer, a blaze of colourful wildflowers and green leaves. Beneath this oasis lie traces of a former life – flat concrete shapes, forgotten fixtures, and, most poignantly, the crumbling chairlift complex.

Above: The remains of the chairlift complex (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Its rusting red pillars and cavernous stations still loom large in the landscape, albeit obscured by the ever surging growth of new plants and trees.

Above: A colourful display of flowers, trees and weeds block out the blighted concrete (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Below: Not all of the structures, however, have been consumed (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The ground is paved with a chaotic mosaic of broken glass. Bottles from drunken ‘visitors’ reduced to tiny hazardous fragments.

Above: The glitter of glass is just visible in the dirt (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Older images of the site depict fibreglass remnants of the dinosaurs and ‘mountains’ alongside recognisable archways and structures.. Now it is difficult to distinguish between piles of concrete, bricks and dirt – most of the parts that once survived have since crumbled away.

Above: Part of a tiled floor (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

However, it’s easy to talk about this site in these tired, clichéd ways. To solemnly condemn the deterioration of the site; to wax lyrical about the ‘old days’ when the park was full of life and fun.

Above: The steps and paths no longer lead anywhere in particular (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

There is a certain charm here. Maybe it doesn’t lie in the broken beer bottles and scorch marks (although it might, depending on your aesthetic preferences!), but there is a beauty in Nature reclaiming its territory; slowly but surely. The biggest surprise, perhaps, is the wild ‘garden’ that has emerged. The broken tiles, piles of bricks and concrete sections evoke an old ruin, but also a sense of mystery.

Above: Strange metal coils/sprints (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

But this is turn, perhaps, is an artistic cliché. Dereliction is a popular topic for photographers and artists, as mentioned above, and in either case, sadness is a prevailing emotion. Does it need to be? Such sites do not necessarily need to be defined in terms of loss. Nor must the remains define the memories.

Above: Chairlift costume design for a Marvel’s themed performance (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Later this summer the site will host some unusual performances, courtesy of Stories From Scarborough. However, for now, here’s a lovely memory about the chairlifts, kindly sent in by Malcolm:

My ( now wife) and I had just met at work and were in a relationship but wanted to keep it private.
We went to Scarborough in 1988 for a weekend and walked Marine Drive then through Northstead Manor Gardens. When we went back to work it was ” We know were you have been this w/e.”
We were seen by someone from work who was on the chairlift as we walked underneath.

So much for trying to keep a secret.!!!

Thanks Malcolm!

Do you remember Marvel’s or Scarborough Zoo? Or the chairlifts? What do you think of the site now? Should it be redeveloped into something new? Or should Marvel’s be brought back? Or should it be left to the flowers, plants and trees?