Scarborough’s Glorious Gardens: Part II

Some of Scarborough’s many stunning gardens have already been explored in Part I, including Clarence Gardens, the Italian Gardens and the Rose Garden. This post discusses Valley Gardens, Holbeck Gardens, and a few others.

Valley Gardens

In 1862, shortly after the rennovation of the Spa in the late 1850s, the nearby Ramsdale Valley became home to Valley Gardens. Initially these gardens were known as ‘The People’s Park’. The Scarborough Corporation made the decision to decorate each side of Valley Road, with rockwork, plants and flowers, as well as a small pool, which had previously supplied water to Scarborough’s corn mills, which had closed a decade earlier.

Valley Gardens

Above: Overview of Ramsdale Valley (source)

Below: The People’s Park, later known as Valley Gardens (source)

Valley Gardens

Complete with a jet d’eau, lily pond, swans and small island, the final addition came in the form of a skeleton iron bridge, bought by Robert Williamson, or rather rescued, from the River Ouse in York, into which it had fallen. Then known as Lendal Bridge, its reincarnation in Scarborough is now known as Valley Bridge (not to be confused with the Spa Bridge, which connects the Grand Hotel with the Spa).

Below: The bridge across the valley affords excellent views of the gardens (source)

Valley Bridge

The Valley Bridge opened in 1865, just three years after the park, which was formally renamed Valley Gardens in 1912. There are more beautiful pictures of the park here, and the lily pond is pictured below:

Valley Gardens

Above: The lily pond (source)

Holbeck Gardens

The Scarborough Corporation commissioned Holbeck Gardens in the late nineteenth century, and they were designed by William Skipsey. Starting just south of Dickenson Point, the gardens soon encompassed a vast network of winding cliffside paths that stretched all the way to the Esplanade.

Holbeck Gardens

Above: Part of Holbeck Gardens (source)

On the left there is a touching memorial to a fallen soldier, and during the warmer months wild rabbits and squirrels can sometimes be seen on the grassy slopes.

Below: A view from the gardens towards the castle (source)

Holbeck Gardens

The paths lead all the way from the top of the cliffs to the beach below, and offer walkers enchanting views across the South Bay and Spa. However, the entrance to the vast network of paths is located next to the Esplanade.

Holbeck Gardens

Above: The Clock Tower at the entrance (source)

When George V was crowned in 1911, a special clock tower was built on Scarborough’s Esplanade to commemorate the event, and this was then donated to Holbeck Gardens in the same year, by William Shuttleworth. At the end of WWI a putting green was also added close by.

Below: A stunning floral display next to the Clock Tower (source)

Holbeck Gardens

Holbeck Gardens

Above: The Putting Green in the 1930s (source)

Although much of the gardens remains today, relatively unchanged, the furthermost end, closest to Holbeck Hall, has, since 1993, changed dramatically.

Holbeck Gardens

Above: Alternative view of Holbeck Gardens (source)

A landslide in 1993 transformed a large part of the gardens, and destroyed nearby Holbeck Hall.

Holbeck Hall and Gardens

Above: Holbeck Hall once overlooked Holbeck Gardens (source)

Built in 1879, by George Alderson Smith, Holbeck Hall was originally a private residence, eventually becoming a hotel in the twentieth century. The landslide began on June 3rd, following heavy rainfall, which eventually precipitated the collapse of the building two days later. Parts of the hotel fell into the sea, and the remainder was later demolished. Parts of the area still remain off limits to visitors.

Miniature Garden

As well as the clock tower, Alfred Shuttleworth was responsible for the miniature garden on the Esplanade.

Miniature Garden, South Cliff

Above: The Miniature Garden (source)

This intricate little garden features several small buildings and bridges as well as a small stream. All of the above gardens, as well as those featured in Part I, will be covered in more details soon.

Which garden is your favourite? Do you remember the Holbeck Hall landslide? Share your memories/thoughts in the comments section below…


Parks and Gardens

Ramsdale Valley

Historic England

Scarborough Civic Society


Holbeck Hall And Scarborough Millennium

When Millennium officially opened in Scarborough at the start of June 1993, the attraction’s creator, Henry Marshall, issued an unusual statement:

This week [in Scarborough] we have had a death in the family….but we have also had a birth, with the Millennium.

(Scarborough Evening News, Wednesday June 9th, 1993)

The death he refers to is not of a person, but a landmark.

Holbeck Hall Hotel – a large Victorian building that stood on a cliff on the southern edge of Scarborough – collapsed during a landslide in June 1993. You can view pictures of what happened by clicking here.

This dramatic event made headlines across the UK, and somewhat overshadowed the opening of Scarborough’s newest attraction: Millennium.

Above: The opening of the new Millennium attraction coincided with the loss of Holbeck (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Built in 1879, by George Alderson Smith, Holbeck Hall was originally designed as a private residence.  Smith was reputedly warned about the unstable location of his new abode, but built it nonetheless. Fortunately for him, the prophesied problems arrived well over a century later, by which point the hall had become a hotel, owned by English Rose Hotels. The landslide began on June 3rd, following heavy rainfall, which eventually precipitated the collapse of the building two days later. Parts of the hotel fell into the sea, and the remainder was later demolished.

Although Millennium had been open to the public since the end of May, the official opening was scheduled only days after the collapse of Holbeck.

Consequently Henry Marshall found himself competing for publicity as local (and national) press became flooded with the tale of the disaster.

Above: A voucher for the new attraction, which was competing for coverage in the local press (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Although the official opening of the attraction occurred on June 9th, visitors were able to sample ‘1000 years of Scarborough history’ in the preceding week also. Marshall worked hard on a comprehensive publicity campaign, which included invites sent to 36,000 primary and secondary schools across the country, with bookings pouring in from as far afield as Aberdeen and Kent. Schools in Peterborough and Buckinghamshire were the first to secure their places, but the very first visitors were in fact two ladies from Batley, who happened to be holidaying in Scarborough at the time the attraction opened!

Above: A visitor guide profiles the attraction (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Local hoteliers were also invited to sample the attraction, and Marshall injected some star quality by securing the support of famous Scarborian playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who created characters and scripts for the museum guides. Each guide assumed a fictional persona, based upon a different historical period.

Above: Millennium sought to emulate Scarborough’s historical characters (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

Millennium lasted almost a decade, eventually closing in 2001. It was particularly popular amongst children and schools, and even featured in the famous children’s television show Blue Peter. Strange to think that its early days were overshadowed by the tragedy of Holbeck Hall; the latter commemorated by an information board close to the site, whilst the former – the illustrious Millennium Museum – is now confined only to memory.

Above: The site of the landslip has since been re-landscaped (source)

Having said that, a road sign on Falsgrave Road still includes Millennium – a touching oversight that generates an unexpected tribute to the former museum and tourist attraction.

Do you remember Millennium?


All of the above information was sourced from old local newspaper articles held in the Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library.