Kinderland Opens!

On May 25th, 1985, queues of excited children and families could be seen on Burniston Road in Scarborough. As clocks across the town struck 10am, Kinderland – the North Bay’s newest attraction – opened its doors for the first time.

Above: An early advert for Kinderland from 1985 (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

It had been a nail-biting few days for Dudley Wallis (the park’s founder) and his team. Construction workers, impeded by poor weather, had been laying grass and installing fixtures up until midnight on May 24th. Some parts of the attraction, such as the swing ball and quoits games, were yet to be installed, and finishing touches were needed. Not only that, but the park had faced fierce opposition from local residents – from the early planning stages right up until the opening day.

Nonetheless, the first visitors to Scarborough’s latest children’s attraction were greeted by sunny skies and warm weather – perfectly timed for Kinderland’s big day.

Kinderland was dreamed up in the early 1980s, when founder Dudley Wallis was watching TV. A German attraction with the same title provided the name, and an idea formed that Wallis described as follows:

…good old fashioned fun, the way it used to be, with no slot machines or electronic wizardry.

(Scarborough Evening News, May 1, 1985)

However, Wallis was initially unsure about how he, as an adult, could truly imagine what the children of the 1980s wanted from a seaside attraction in Scarborough.

The problem in being 58 years of age is in seeing things through the eyes of a five-year old, so I have spoken to my own children about the design. I hope Kinderland will be an asset to the total holiday scene.

(Scarborough Evening News, May 25, 1985)

The attraction truly was a family affair, with Dudley’s brother Stanley and his mother Edith both contributing to the financial investment required to create the park. Funding was given a substantial boost by the English Tourism Board, who awarded a grant of £125,000. The Board’s chairman Duncan Bluck even arrived in a helicopter to tour the site on Burniston Road, award the cheque and plant a maple tree to mark his visit. The location of this tree was not specified – perhaps it still exists somewhere in Scarborough?

However, before building could commence in October of 1984, extensive plans were made. There was to be an indoor play area containing 47, 000 plastic balls and fibreglass slides. There would be new boats and canoes for the boating lake in Northstead Manor Gardens, which was leased out to Kinderland during the attraction’s tenure, along with the Water Chute – both this and the boating lake had been in existence since the 1930s.

Above: The Water Chute was constructed in the 1930s (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Kinderland was to be as visitor and family friendly as possible, with baby changing areas, a lost child point, first aid centre and extensive provision for disabled visitors, including wheelchair-friendly walkways and accessible entrances. Bizarrely Wallis also purchased 3 traditional red telephone boxes – in the 1980s many of these were being decommissioned and sold off. Bought for £500 apiece, these were placed around the park for the use of visitors.

The venue was capable of hosting 1450 people and was to have two entrances – one near to the Water Chute and the other further up Burniston Road. There were even plans to create a Kinderland Club, with savings to be had for frequent visitors and local Scarborough residents.

Above: Kinderland had plenty of frequent visitors (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

May 25th must have been an exciting day for the Wallis family – perfect weather and plenty of visitors, no doubt drawn in following an extensive advertising campaign that included numerous adverts in local papers and beyond. The North Bay was then becoming a tourist haven – Marvel’s, Waterscene, Peasholm Park, Manor Gardens and more. The area is a much quieter one today.

Above: Former entrance to Kinderland in 2014, seven years after closure (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Courtesy of the North Bay Railway Company, visitors to Scarborough can still enjoy the Water Chute, but the gates leading to the former Kinderland site remain closed. Once a lively adventure park, and before that, allotments, this overgrown patch of land sits waiting amidst long held promises of re-development.

What do you think should be done with the Kinderland site? Did you visit when the park first opened? Do you remember the allotments that stood on the site before 1984? Please comment or get in touch.

All information from this post comes from old articles in the Scarborough News, viewed in the Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library.

The Kinderland Controversy

In the early 1980s, Dudley Wallis – former owner of the Wallis Holiday Camp at Cayton Bay – proposed a new attraction for children in Scarborough.

Kinderland was to be an adventure playground for youngsters, and plans were made to transform local allotments on Burniston Road into a thrilling play area for tourists and locals alike. However, for those who lived in the nearby area, the North Side’s status as a peaceful residential location, was under threat.

A protest group, consisting of local residents, and led by Major Ron Soper, objected strongly to proposals concerning both Kinderland and the new water slides at the North Bay Bathing Pool – part of a larger scale development that would transform the venue into Waterscene later that year (subsequently known as Water Splash World and then, in 1995, Atlantis). Protestors were concerned about noise levels, and the effect that the attraction would have on the area.

Above: Waterscene’s slides were impressive, but not everyone welcomed them (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

In spite of these concerns, a leaflet campaign (around 2000 were distributed locally) and a petition to stop Kinderland being built, Scarborough Council approved the proposal and granted permission for the development of the site. Construction began in October, 1984. C. B. Booth Ltd was the Beverley-based contractor overseeing the work, and a Leeds firm known as Architectural Design Partnership designed the park.


Above: Kinderland was designed to facilitate old-fashioned outdoor play and games (from the author’s collection)

Accepting that Kinderland would be built regardless, local objectors, later known as the North Side Action Group, turned their attention towards other matters. Firstly they sought out an old statute (the Sunday Entertainments Act of 1932), to prevent the proposed park from opening on a Sunday. In doing so they hoped to secure some peace and quiet from the anticipated noise and commotion that Kinderland was predicted to attract. However, subsequent amendments to these regulations allowed the park to remain open all weekend; indeed, times were changing and many businesses had flouted the act for years.

Undeterred, objectors turned their attention to the size and proposed placement of attraction signs – namely those marking the two entrances on Burniston Road, and one opposite the boating lake and water chute in Northstead Manor Gardens. Chairman of the action group, Leslie Binns, made the following statement to the Scarborough Evening News in 1985:

We have written to the council objecting to the plans. We think these three signs are absolutely staggering. They will be totally out of place both in the area and in the gardens which are there for both residents and visitors alike to enjoy.

(Scarborough Evening News, 1 May 1985)

It is easy to see both sides of this argument in retrospect. On one hand, Dudley Wallis wanted to create a play area for old-fashioned fun – climbing frames and real physical play away from the slot machines and noise of the newer attractions on the South Bay. Local residents wanted a quiet place to live and were worried about the impact of yet another North Bay attraction on their doorstep. They were frustrated and felt ignored by the council, who, along with Wallis and those supporting the development appeared to have little regard for public opinion on the matter. It is understandable that they would feel compelled to voice their concerns by protesting.

Above: Kinderland advert from the early days of the attraction (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Nonetheless, Wallis still hoped to create an attraction for Scarborough that would be loved by both tourists and locals. It has certainly left a legacy of memories, and it is touching to know that local residents campaigned to save it in 2001. Sadly, just as the campaign to prevent its creation ultimately failed, so too did the fight to keep it. Kinderland closed in 2007 and the site now lies dormant – a barren wasteland like the former Marvel’s site, which occupies the hill at the other side of Northstead Manor Gardens.

Now it is newer designs and planning proposals that attract disapproval and concern, as Scarborough continues to juggle its dual role as both a tourist destination and as a place to live and work. The question, as always, remains – who has the right to decide what is best for a seaside town such as Scarborough? Tourism boosts the local economy, but which types of attraction are truly best for Scarborough as a whole?  Is it possible to satisfy visitors and locals in equal measure?


The information above is based on articles in the Scarborough News (1983 – 1986), viewed in the Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library.


Scarborough During The 1980s

The 1980s was a key time for many of Scarborough’s best loved attractions. In 1984, Scarborough Zoo and Marineland was given a makeover. The animals left and more attention was given to rides and amusements, under the new name of Marvel’s Amusement Park. In the same year the North Bay Bathing Pool received two huge slides (the longest in Europe at the time) and a new name – Waterscene.

Only a year later, Kinderland opened on Burniston Road, and two years later Waterscene became Water Splash World. Across town the South Bay Pool closed in 1988. Scarborough was changing in a bid to keep the tourists coming back.

One reader, Simon, has kindly shared some of his holiday photographs from the 1980s, many of which feature some of the attractions that Stories From Scarborough is investigating. The full set can be seen on the Stories From Scarborough Image Archive, but for now here are a few highlights.

Please do not copy or use any of these images without permission.

First of all, there are some splendid images from the final years of Scarborough Zoo.

Above you can see the performing dolphins, and below – a bear. There was once a whole host of animals at the zoo, including parrots, snakes, even farmyard animals and huge fibreglass dinosaurs!

There was also a small racing track (above), and the Astro Slide (below). The latter survived into the Marvel’s era. There was also a larger version at the Scalby Mills Complex, which was built in the 1960s and demolished to make way for the current day Sea Life Centre at the start of the 1990s.

There’s also a lovely shot of the Hispaniola on the Mere.

The company that built the Hispaniola back in the 1940s – Charles Pearson Ltd – also constructed many of the miniature boats for the Peasholm Park Naval Battles, which also feature in Simon’s collection.

And then of course there’s Kinderland – every visitor remembers the Muddlebugs (pedal cars), and how difficult to steer they were.

A huge thank you to Simon for sending these in. You can see more on the Image Archive website.

Do you have any photographs of the attractions listed on this website? Your images could really help both the archive and the research – often small details in a picture can lead to new avenues of investigation. If you’d like to donate images, please get in touch. Modern day images also welcome (e.g. photographs of the Hispaniola today, the derelict Marvel’s site, water chute etc) as too are opinions of the sites. Do you like the new developments? Or should the original attractions be restored?

Drawing The Past

In addition to collecting stories about Scarborough’s former attractions, Stories From Scarborough has also been experimenting with more creative ways to present Scarborough’s history, including:

A chairlift costume

A fictional character

A third Hispaniola

Sandcastle memorials

Water samples

Replica signs

Many of the experiments never make it online, and a significant number are posted on my artist website.

More recently I’ve been drawing. Often archival images are not available to reproduce – however, drawing is permissible, and has allowed me to share with you some of the images I can’t post as photographs due to licensing regulations. I can also do a little editing of my own, such as change the viewpoint, or remove obstacles (such as cars). In this post are some examples of the work so far.

Just in case you’re wondering – all these drawing are on the back of old printouts. I’m a big fan of recycling and low on money. And after all, they are merely experiments.


Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

Kinderland stood on Burniston Road between 1985 and 2007. Here we can see the distinctive clock tower in the background, the cafe and gift shop on the left and the indoor play area on the right. In the centre, is a wishing well, alongside a tyre swing and helter skelter-style slide.

This reader recalls the attraction in exquisite detail – click here for his memories.

The Historic Water Chute And Boating Lake

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

The water chute opened in 1932, and is still in operation today. It was owned by Kinderland between 1985 and 2007, but is now owned by the North Bay Railway Company. Likewise the boating lake has a similar history – its original fleet of small motorised boats were originally based at the North Bay Bathing Pool.

The Mere

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

One of the last vestiges of the great Lake Pickering, the Mere was developed into a tourist spot during the early 1900s, initially serving keen anglers, then boasting a whole host of activities including boating, water-skiing, a dry ski slope and, of course, the Hispaniola. It has since become a quieter place once more, still popular with fishing enthusiasts.

The Hispaniola

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

From 1949 until 1993, the Hispaniola took children to Treasure Island to dig for gold doubloons. Now it sails along the South Bay, minus pirates or treasure.

A kind reader donated some pictures of the Hispaniola (and the Mere) here.

The Madhouse

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

A bizarre little attraction on the Sandside, next to where the Princess Cafe stands today. Open from the 1970s until the early 1990s, little documentation of this wacky place survives. It is now the Penny Arcade Amusements.

The Turkish Baths

Above image – © Stories From Scarborough

On Scarborough Foreshore stands Coney Island Amusements, once adorned with the name of Scarborough’s fairground entrepreneur Jimmy Corrigan. During the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a spectacular World Of Holograms on the first floor. However, back in 1859, the building was originally designed to be a Turkish bathing house, called the Bland’s Cliff Baths.

Recently I’ve been adding colour to some of my drawings – see some of them here on my artist website.

Kinderland: Did You Know…?

This is the fifth in a series of posts summarising some of the lesser known, and sometimes unexpected facts behind Scarborough’s former attractions. The others include the following:

Scarborough Aquarium: Did You Know…?

Gala Land: Did You Know…?

The Hispaniola: Did You Know…?

Scarborough Zoo: Did You Know…?

This post is about Kinderland, the children’s activity park that operated on Burniston Road, Scarborough between 1985 and 2007. To read more about it, please see the links on the Places page.

Did you know that…

1) Kinderland is a German word

Kinder translates as ‘children’ and land means ‘country’ in German. Indeed a number of childrens’ attractions in Germany, past and present, been named Kinderland, as have attractions elsewhere – even in the US. Founder Dudley Wallis was reportedly discouraged from using a German name for his play park, but did so nonetheless.

Above: Camp Kinderland in the US has a long history (source)

One of the more famous uses of the Kinderland name includes Camp Kinderland – a camp based in Tolland, Massachusetts, and originally founded by a Jewish organisation based in New York. It was formed in 1923 as an escape for children living in the grim tenement buildings of the city, and was the feature of a recent documentary – Commie Camp.

2) The park was inspired by its German equivalent(s)

However, it was not the famous Camp Kinderland that inspired Dudley Wallis, but in fact a park in Munich, Germany – also called Kinderland.

Above: Munich Airport has a Kinderland, but this is too modern to be Wallis’ inspiration (source)

After his holiday camp (the Wallis Holiday Camp at nearby Cayton Bay) closed, Dudley Wallis was able to spend more time relaxing – this included watching television, and it was a feature on a German camp (called Kinderland) that formed part of his early inspiration for the park.

I sat around with nothing specific to do in the morning

Dudley Wallis on his television habit (source)

As mentioned above, the best known Kinderland in Munich now seems to be a play area at the city’s main airport. Perhaps Wallis meant the Kinderland resort in Bavaria?

Above: Kinderland Bavaria – outdoor play in Germany (source)

The Kinderland Company operates a range of leisure parks, holiday accommodation sites and attractions in Bavaria. Perhaps it was an early version of this organisation that Dudley Wallis saw on television? Either way, Kinderland(s) across the world seem to feature holidays, play and often the great outdoors. Scarborough’s Kinderland was no different, and certainly had a holiday camp feel to it, with the timber huts, neat fences and tidy landscaped grounds, surrounded by trees and greenery.

3) The park was not initially welcomed

As mentioned in this post – many in Scarborough did not want Kinderland, fearing a rowdy amusement park brimming with slot machines, lights and loud music. Yet Dudley Wallis did not want any of these things either – Kinderland boasted a distinct lack of slot machines, music and anything garish or obtrusive. His adventure playground was very much in keeping with its surroundings – it encouraged exercise, games and good old-fashioned outdoor play for children, whilst also providing a cafe and plenty of seating areas for parents.


Above: Kinderland postcard (from the author’s collection)

Interestingly, following resistance to the park in the 1980s, Scarborough fought to keep Kinderland when it faced closure in the early 2000s, and the attraction also won an award in the late 1980s.

4) Money struggles began early on

Dudley Wallis’ dream took £700,000 to realise – the land had to be converted, the playground built, the materials bought and then there was the staff the run it. Although Kinderland enjoyed a successful opening weekend and became a popular draw for coach trippers, visitors tailed off, and whilst the park remained well-liked and attended, custom was insufficient to meet the costs, and as early as 1989 losses were reported.

5) There were Muddlebugs

One of Kinderland’s most popular attractions was its fleet of pedal cars – humorously named Muddlebugs. Notoriously difficult but enjoyable to operate, the cars required the rider to co-ordinate pedalling with hand operated steering around a carefully marked ‘racing track’. With their bulbous wheels and wonky gears these vehicles were far from Grand Prix material, but there were often queues for a ride and children are certainly competitive mini-racers!

Above: Muddlebugs similar to those used at Kinderland (source)

Of course Muddlebugs were never specific to Kinderland, and can still be found at selected children’s leisure parks, both in the UK and abroad. When the park closed, many of its rides and structures were put up for sale, so parts of the attraction could still be entertaining children somewhere to this day. Perhaps.

6) The indoor ball pool contained 50,000 plastic balls

Housed inside a large wooden hut was an extensive indoor play area featuring plastic tunnels, slides, firemen’s poles, and a ball pool. Known as ‘the swimming pool’, it was popular with visitors, many of whom reportedly mentioned in their letters of appreciation to the park’s founder Dudley Wallis.

Above: Postcard depicting the ball pool – top right (from the author’s collection)

Shoes were left outside the play area, so that worn socks could navigate brightly coloured tunnels, stumbling past padded beams and netting, which separated the different parts of the indoor complex.

7) The site was formerly used as allotments

Kinderland, like Atlantis, Marvel’s, Manor Gardens and Peasholm Park, was once part of the epic Northstead Estate, which was eventually sold to the Scarborough Corporation during the early twentieth century. However, whilst much of the area was converted into entertainment spaces, the Kinderland site avoided this fate until the 1980s, although the water chute and boating lake long pre-dated it, being part of the original Northstead Manor Gardens, which were constructed in the 1930s.

Above: The miniature railway passes the boating lake – top right – at Northstead Manor Gardens (source)

Not far from the army barracks on Burniston Road, the Kinderland site was used for more leisurely activities, namely the growing of plants by local residents. Before that, the area was part of a network of fields and farmland, possibly used for crops or grazing livestock.

Currently the site remains in limbo – Kinderland is gone (although the water chute and boating lake continue to survive), and the overgrown site lies empty, awaiting redevelopment according to the most recent reports. Several sources mention proposed holiday chateaus – maybe Kinderland will continue to entertain children in the distant future, or perhaps its days as ‘the children’s world’ are gone forever.


For further sources see other Kinderland posts and also this article from the July 1985 Glasgow Herald.

Kinderland Memories

Kinderland was a children’s activity park that stood on Burniston Road, Scarborough between 1985 and 2007.

You can read more about it by checking out the following links.

Remembering Kinderland (brief history and introduction)

The Kinderland Protest (the fight to save the park)

The Historic Water Chute (the oldest part of the attraction)

Great Crested Newts at Kinderland and Marvel’s (links with local wildlife)

The following post contains a selection of wonderfully detailed memories contributed by Mark, who has been holidaying in Scarborough since around 1989. His account focuses on the parts of Kinderland he remembers most clearly, starting with the cafe.

The Café, I remember fairly well, as we ate there pretty much every time we visited! Often, hiding from the wasps that always seemed to hang around the picnic tables outside. The main memory of eating there, was actually the little cartons of ‘five alive’ and ‘umbongo’ juice. Along with (usually) a sandwich (which kind of reminded me of the sandwiches we got on railway stations… Looked nice enough, but never quite tasted as good.) and a bag of crisps, shared with mum because I couldn’t manage the whole bag.

In addition to the cafe, Kinderland had an ice-cream kiosk and a gift shop, the latter of which also featured in Mark’s memories:

The Gift shop, again, is somewhere I seemed to be quite insistent that we visited every time. I didn’t buy so much towards the later days, but when I was younger I tended to acquire things such as bouncy balls, pencils, rubbers and Frisbee’s. However, having gotten the rubber or pencil, I missed Scarborough so much by the time we got home, that I would refuse to use them till I knew we were going back the next year!

Kinderland had its own range of merchandise, including clothing, bookmarks, and as Mark mentions, frisbees, all of which were stocked in the park’s ample gift shop. However, more importantly, Kinderland featured a diverse range of outdoor play activities – some of Mark’s highlights were as follows:

I remember the giant chess pieces quite well, I basically learnt to play chess with them! Not the most practical method, and I did wind up asking dad to teach me properly, on a normal size board, in the end. The roller skating area I tended to look at with longing, but never try, as my sense of balance was not very good, to say the least. It still isn’t, really!

The pedal go-carts were a personal favourite as I got older, and therefore able to pedal them – I could be on there for some time and I remember it being something of a free-for-all to actually get on one, when someone else vacated one. They had the strangest steering system I’ve come across, ‘T’ shaped handles on each side of the seat, from what I remember. I also remember coming off of there nearly every time, with a cut across the shin – a foot would slide off the pedals, usually on a ‘downhill’ section, and they would be spinning so fast that a smack to the shin seemed inevitable.

I remember there was also a series of rope ‘bridges’, made of something like netting – can’t have been more than a foot off the ground, but it felt like a lot more to me! I could spend a fair amount of time occupied on those, till I got tired or fell off!

Further regarding personal favourites, aside from the pedal carts as mentioned, it would likely be the ‘zip wire’, with the seat hanging down from it, when I was young enough that my feet didn’t catch on the floor… and there was a particularly good slide that took you down the length of the stairs near the entrance. Got very warm during the day, as it was made entirely of metal!

Memories like these really bring Kinderland alive, and a huge thanks to Mark for kindly putting them in writing. Stories From Scarborough looks forward to sharing more memories of former Scarborough attractions in coming weeks.

Until then, does this post spark any memories for you? Do you remember Kinderland? Memories of the indoor play area and water chute are particularly welcome, and recollections of any of the other play activities and apparatus not yet mentioned. Colours, materials, emotions, food, drink – everything and anything is relevant!

Alternatively, please also get in touch if you remember the Kinderland Protest, or remember what the site was like before Kinderland. What do you think of it now? Should it be developed? Should Kinderland return?

All opinions, memories and information welcome.

Scarborough, Sandcastles and Stories

This is the fourth in a series of posts exploring artistic responses to former Scarborough attractions.

For the others please see the following links:

The Making of a Chairlift

Back to Childhood

A Third Hispaniola?

The humble sandcastle is emblematic of the traditional British seaside holiday. And yet, when I visited Scarborough as a child, it was not my brothers and I who were the main sandcastle builders, but my mum.


Above: No sandcastles for me – apparently I liked to draw random circles in the sand (from the author’s personal collection)

Sidenote: Can you spot the Marvel’s chairlifts in the background?

My mum’s sandcastles were elaborate affairs – a huge mountain of sand was surrounded by a fortress of small castles, and crowned with a singular form on the top. This uppermost castle usually ended up with a flag of some kind piercing its roof, and a deep moat around the outside was filled with seawater. The outer walls and entry road were painstakingly patted into place. On every seaside visit this formula was repeated to a high degree of accuracy.

But what, you might ask, has this got to do with any of the former seaside attractions investigated here?

Well, firstly, sand is part of the language of the seaside, and all of the attractions are inevitably tied to Scarborough’s status as a seaside resort. I wanted to find a way to reference more general themes  of the project. Childhood is another example – playing with sand is something many of us did as kids, whether that be at the seaside or in a sandpit.

Above: Playing with sand is more commonly a childhood pursuit (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Secondly, I wanted to find a material that would effectively represent the decay of the chosen attractions. Sand is malleable, but also incredibly fragile. One of the things I love about sandcastles is that, when the day ends, the sea washes them away, and the beach is smoothed out, like a fresh canvas for a new morning.

Above: A metaphor for the fading memories of former attractions? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

When I visited the Marvel’s site last week, I was struck by how swiftly Nature had erased many traces of the amusement park’s existence. I like the idea that no matter what we build, Nature always reclaims the land back eventually. Whilst there is a sadness to be found in the dereliction, and in some cases, redevelopment of old attractions, there is also a sense of rebirth and recovery. After all, building an attraction arguably violates the natural world, and when it fades away, plants, trees and animals return.

Enough philosophy for now.

More about the sandcastles!

Above: Experimenting with sand (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I began by simply experimenting with the sand, and the bucket and spade (bought from the seafront at Scarborough of course!). I also used various props to reference former attractions – such as the cardboard water chute sign above and chocolate coin wrappers as stand-ins for the Hispaniola doubloons.

Above: Signs and symbols (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Below: Burying Kinderland (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I enjoyed the lines, shapes and texture of the sand, and the process of constructing, destroying and reconstructing castles – repetitive gestures that mimicked both my mum’s methodical building processes and the ongoing history of development, redevelopment and dereliction that has characterised many of Scarborough’s attraction sites.

Above: The Marvel’s site has witnessed multiple redevelopments; and dereliction (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Following initial experiments I developed the idea further by creating crumbling sandcastle memorials to each attraction, complete with a handmade flag featuring a fragmented image of said attraction.

Above: A Marvel’s memorial? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Below: A tribute to Waterscene? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The strength of these sculptures lies in their temporary existence. In moments the sand starts to turn to dust, and slowly but surely the primitive structures cave in. They never last for a long time, like, say, a grand old painting in an art gallery. In a way they are like the memories I’m exploring – fragile, temporary and always changing.

Above: The crumbling memories of long lost attractions (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I plan to develop this idea further once I arrive in Scarborough, possibly on the North Bay – mainly because this is nearest to the majority of the attractions I’m researching, but also because this is the beach I always played on as a child – more often than the louder, busier South Bay.

Making sandcastle memorials with real Scarborough sand would be so much more meaningful – perhaps I could even hold a memorial service for all the long lost attractions. Perhaps.

Back To Childhood

This is the second in a series of detailed posts about my artistic responses to former Scarborough attractions.

To see the first – The Making of a Chairlift – please click here.

Although I still regularly visit Scarborough as an adult, and am moving to the town this summer, most of my most enduring memories are of childhood visits during the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s.


Above: In Kinderland (from the author’s personal collection)

As an artist who wears costumes and performs characters – it made sense that I should create a child character for Stories From Scarborough. Indeed, the imagined rider of my chairlift costume is a child:

Above: As shown in the previous post (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The pigtails, dungarees and frilly collar are references to a childhood outfit I often wore. However, I wanted to design something slightly different for the adult ‘me’ – still dungarees, but white or gingham ones with patches; worn with a t-shirt, pumps and frilly white socks.

The first step was to design some memory-inspired patches for my costume – I combined existing images, my own drawings and photos to create a series of digital patterns inspired by Marvel’s Amusement Park and its predecessor Scarborough Zoo.

Above: One of a series of Marvel’s memory patches (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Below: Combined patterns (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

If you look closely you can see chairlifts, promotional material from Marvel’s and references to Scarborough Zoo. From a distance I imagined a series of these patterns resembling red gingham. I wondered whether they should cover the dungarees or not.

Above: Dungaree pattern superimposed over a template (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

But more importantly, was I to make the dungarees from scratch, or to buy a plain white pair to experiment with? In the end I found an affordable pair of white builders’ dungarees on eBay, with a handy pouch in the front. I also paired them with a cheap red t-shirt and summery pumps, similar to those I sometimes wore as a child during the summer.

Above: Costume paired with a handmade sign (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Even just wearing these new clothes made me feel like a child again – my whole body language changed. The handmade sign is a nod to the Kinderland March – I decided that Marvel’s deserved a protest against closure, even over a decade after the occasion!

So what about the memory patches?

Well, after making the digital design I printed an acetate positive to create a screenprint of the pattern onto a cut up white cotton bedsheet. Not all of the prints turned out quite right though:

Above: An artistically imperfect print! Oops! (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Nonetheless, I got enough decent patches to sew some onto the dungarees – I opted against completely covering the white, instead settling for a series of strategically placed samples.

Above: Costume plus patches but minus pigtails (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I was very happy with how it turned out and even customised the costume with a handmade badge or two:

Above: Dungarees with badges and memory patch (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

And some more:

Above: More badges (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

This character will be hoping to have some adventures in Scarborough this summer and beyond, and she might be doing a sneaky preview performance in Manchester before I leave. Watch this space!

Great Crested Newts at Kinderland and Marvel’s

Great Crested Newts, otherwise known as Northern Crested Newts, are a type of aquatic amphibian found across Europe and parts of Asia. In England, Wales and Scotland they are a protected species.

Above: A male Great Crested Newt (source)

Although primarily land dwellers, these newts breed in water (mainly ponds and pools), where the female lays her eggs on sub-aquatic plants. Due to their vulnerability to fish predation, great crested newts tend to steer clear of areas of water in which fishes dwell, hence there preference for smaller inland pools and ponds.

Above: A great crested newt egg on the leaf of a sub-aquatic plant (source)

In this respect, the boating lake in Northstead Manor Gardens, Scarborough, has traditionally provided an ideal breeding ground for the great crested newts, in spite of the fact that it is man-made. The frequent draining of the lake – an important part of its upkeep over the years – has maintained a safe and relatively fish free environment for newt reproduction.


Above: Northstead Manor Gardens Boating Lake – in the background (source)

The boating lake has long been a fixture in Northstead Manor Gardens, formerly known as the Pleasure Park, and is an artificial feature created specially for the area in the 1930s, along with a miniature railway, water chute and open air theatre. The park was completed in 1935.

Above: Old postcard showing the boating lake (source)

Going back to the great crested newts…

From the 1940s onwards, loss of natural habitat (along with other factors) severely curtailed numbers of this amphibian species, and the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act pledged to protect them; requiring their preservation by law.

Above: A page from the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 (source)

Due to this obligation to protect the newts, they were moved to specially prepared locations for safety. One of these was the popular children’s adventure playground – Kinderland, a company that took over the operation of the nearby boating lake and  water chute in 1984.


Above: Reproduction of the sign from the newts’ area at Kinderland (from the author’s personal collection)

Some of the newts travelled to Marvel’s instead – the amusement park on the other side of the boating lake, formerly known as Scarborough Zoo. It has been difficult to establish whether this occurred before or after the site closed to the public in 2002.

Above: During its tenure as Scarborough Zoo, the site was home to many different animals (source)

According to the Yorkshire Post, the newts at Marvel’s occupied an area close to the former chairlift route, their presence leaving developers unable to fully dismantle cabling after the theme park’s closure in 2002. When Kinderland closed several years later in 2007, similar problems emerged. Obliged by law to ensure the continued survival of the newts, both developers and Scarborough Council (owners of the lease for both sites) were faced with finding and preparing new habitats.

Above: An overgrown Kinderland – prior to the clearing of the site (source)

This challenge was further complicated by the hibernation cycle of the newts – all had to be captured prior to their winter retreat.

Above: The former Marvel’s site – now derelict (source)

According to the Scarborough News, the remaining newts were rehoused in specially designed habitats – including one located in the Northstead Manor Gardens, and another at the North Cliff Golf Club.

Above: North Cliff Golf Course – a picturesque setting for a new habitat? (source)

As for the boating lake – where the story began – this is now owned by North Bay Railway, and is due to re-open in May 2014. Like the water chute, it has survived long before and after its affiliation with Kinderland. Hopefully the great crested newts also will remain an enduring part of the natural landscape.

Any nature experts out there? Are there any mistakes in this post – if so please leave a comment. The same applies if you know anything about the newts and their Scarborough story – information seems to be rather sporadic and difficult to verify. Alternatively you can also comment via the Facebook Page.


Scarborough News

The Yorkshire Post

Scarborough Biodiversity Action Plan

The Sands

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

The Historic Water Chute

One of Kinderland’s best loved features was the Water Chute.


Above: The Kinderland Water Chute (from the author’s personal collection)

Passengers boarded this boat-shaped vessel and were swiftly transported, via tracks, down to the nearby boating lake in Northstead Manor Gardens.

Manor Gardens

Above: The former Kinderland boating lake – the Water Chute tracks are just on the left behind the trees (source)

The descent ended with a huge splash, and the ride was completely free for Kinderland ticket holders.


Above: Another view of the Water Chute (source)

Although the Water Chute was acquired by Kinderland when the activity park opened in 1985 – the chute itself had existed since 1932, operating independently for over 50 years.

The Historic Water Chute

Above: An early postcard featuring the Water Chute (source)

The earliest water chutes were developed during the early twentieth century, and by the 1920s were making their way into fairs and parks across the UK.

southport water chute

Above: An early Water Chute in Southport (from the author’s collection)

Blackpool, Southport, Southend-on-Sea all had one, and North Yorkshire was no exception, with chutes opening in both Hull and Scarborough. The design is often attributed to Charles Wicksteed, who founded Wicksteed Park in Kettering. This park also, unsurprisingly, features a Water Chute – one of the first to be built and one of only a few still in operation today.


Above: The Water Chute at Wicksteed Park – very similar to the one in Scarborough (source)

Below: Charles Wicksteed (source)


In 1928 construction of the Water Chute in Northstead Manor Gardens (also known as Scarborough Pleasure Park) began, taking four years to complete and eventually opening alongside the nearby Open Air Theatre in 1932.

Pleasure Park

Above: Water Chute (centre), Open Air Theatre (background) and the miniature railway on the left (source)

One year earlier, the miniature railway had transported its first passengers past the Water Chute site, then under construction.


Above: The early days of the North Bay Railway (source)

Northstead Manor Gardens, which also featured a boating lake, was built on Hobson’s Slack – the geography of the area was ideal for an amphitheatre. The Open Air Theatre has been recently redeveloped following its closure between 1986 and 2010. It has since hosted a range of big name acts including Status Quo and JLS.


Above: The new Open Air Theatre (source)

The Water Chute has also benefited from recent regeneration in the Manor Gardens area. Having suffered vandalism and disrepair following the closure of former operator Kinderland in 2007, the attraction was restored and reopened in 2008 with funding from The Sands redevelopment project. It is now owned by North Bay Railway.


Above: North Bay Railway logo (source)

Whilst advances in engineering and design have since produced ever more complex and thrilling water rides, there is still something to be said for the simple pleasure of the original Water Chute experience. Indeed, its endurance as an attraction (for over 80 years!) is testament to this fact.

Have you taken a ride on the Water Chute? Do you remember it being part of Kinderland? Are there any mistakes in this post? Please comment below.


North Bay Railway

UK Rides Info

National Fairground Archive

Wicksteed Park