Scarborough’s North Bay Chairlifts

Scarborough’s North Bay chairlifts transported holidaymakers to the town’s Marineland and Zoo (later Marvel’s Amusement Park) between 1972 and 2002. Although the Zoo opened in 1969, the chairlifts took a little longer to arrive. When they did, the first passengers embarked at a small station close to the beach, and paid a small fee to ascend (or descend) the hill behind the Open Air Theatre in Northstead Manor Gardens.

Above: The North Bay chairlift route (source)

At the summit were animals – dolphins, bears, parrots and more. When the site was renamed Marvel’s Amusement Park in 1984, the zoo was replaced by a multitude of rides, and in the mid 1990s a second chairlift departure point was added at Peasholm Gap – squeezed between Water Splash World (later Atlantis) and the entrance to Manor Gardens.

Above: The new chairlift route is mentioned on the right (source)

Local businessman and Scarborough Zoo creator Don Robinson was the man behind Scarborough’s chairlifts. Indeed, cable car rides had become a popular addition to UK seaside resorts from the 1960s, and after the zoo opened in 1969, Robinson was keen to capitalise on this. Yet in order to understand their appeal and development, it is necessary to look even further back.

Above: The first chair lift at Sun Valley, Idaho, with designer James Curran (source)

Airborne cable car systems were originally designed for skiing enthusiasts. The development of ski lifts, which began in the 1930s, enabled skiers to travel to the tops of mountains more efficiently and effortlessly than was possible on foot. Funnily enough the single rider lift was based on devices that unloaded bananas from cargo ships! The first functioning design was, according to the sources viewed, designed by American James Curran, and was installed at Sun Valley – a resort town in Idaho (US).

Above: Examples of cargo conveyer devices upon which the first chair lifts were based (source)

These new chairlifts were typically installed at ski resorts, and it was not until the 1960s that they became more widely popular, largely assisted by new ‘gondola’ designs that enabled several riders to board a single lift. These new developments occurred in the late 1960s, by which point chairlifts began appearing across the UK at various resorts and tourist destinations.

Above: One of the early chair lift models at Alton Towers in the UK (source)

Alton Towers had chairlifts from 1963, and the company that provided them – the London Company of British Chairlifts Ltd (a subsidiary of British Ropeway Engineering Company Ltd) – also supplied a number of popular tourist destinations, including many of the Butlins camps. The camp at Filey, only a few miles from Scarborough, also boasted its very own set of chairlifts.

Above: Former chairlifts at Butlins in Filey (source)

The popular chairlift systems were thought to add an exotic, sophisticated and perhaps continental flavour to British resorts. Certainly these airborne cable cars conjured up images of Alpine (or American) adventures, stunning panoramas and dramatic heights. However, whilst Scarborough’s views are certainly worthy of great praise, the hill ascended by its chairlifts was far removed from the mountains of Switzerland for instance, or even some of the dramatic routes taken by other UK-based chairlift systems.

Above: An impressive view from the chairlifts at Butlins Pwllheli in the 1970s (source)

It is not known if the British Ropeway Engineering Company Ltd supplied Scarborough’s original system, although it has been reported that the structure and cable cars were constructed in Sheffield, before being transported in pieces and re-assembled on site. Furthermore, the cabin styling and colouring changed several times during the duration of the attraction.

Above: The early chairlifts were similar to the ones above, pictured at Alton Towers (source)

This initial, box-like design gave way to a more minimal, curving structure – similar to the Skyride at Pleasureland, Southport and the system at Butlins in Skegness.

Above: The former Skyride at Southport (source)

Below: Similar designs at Butlins in Skegness (source)

Like those pictured above, Scarborough’s chairlifts were initially multi-coloured. The Marvel’s rebranding of 1984, in line with its American theme, gave the cars a red hue. The newer alternative route – introduced in the 1990s –  was painted green.

Above: The red route at Scarborough (from the author’s personal collection)

The UK still boasts a number of operational cable car systems, suggesting that there is still a demand for this kind of ride, particularly when impressive views are involved.

Above: The cable cars in Llandudno are still in operation (source)

Dreamland, in Margate, collects, restores and re-imagines former rides and paraphernalia – its collection includes the chairlifts from Pleasureland in Southport, which were similar in design to Scarborough’s own. It is reassuring to know that projects such as this are working hard to preserve the rich heritage of UK attractions. Sadly it is too late for Scarborough’s chairlifts, and the rides at Marvel’s, which have long gone following the park’s closure in 2002.

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Above: The site shortly after most of the main structures were cleared (source)

The mild hill behind the Open Air Theatre makes any potential resurrection of the chairlifts an overly optimistic endeavour. Even back in the 1970s, Don Robinson noted that the novelty of riding them seemed to wear off quickly, with many passengers opting to walk back from the attraction, rather than take the chairlift both ways. Yet it is the chairlifts, or rather the remnants, that endure today, the rusting structures still standing tall against the North Bay skyline.

You can read about one reader’s chairlift memory here, and another here. Maybe you’d like to share a memory of your own? If so, please do get in touch.

Sources

Butlins Memories

Cableway Information Page

The World’s First Chair Lift

Dreamland

Alton Towers History

Please see other posts about Marvel’s and Scarborough Zoo for further sources used.

Memories From Marvel’s

Marvel’s Amusement Park, formerly Scarborough Marineland and Zoo, was located on the top of the hill behind the current outdoor theatre in Manor Gardens, Scarborough. It opened in 1984 and closed in 2002. You can read more about it on the links below:

Marvel’s Amusement Park (brief history)

Scarborough Zoo and Marineland (pre-Marvel’s)

Thrill-seeking at Marvel’s and Scarborough Zoo (rollercoasters and rides)

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

Marvel’s Now (the current status of the site)

The following post contains memories of Marvel’s submitted by Mark, who previously shared his recollections of Kinderland with Stories From Scarborough. Although the zoo closed before he first visited the site, he does recall one clue as to its former existence:

From what I can remember, there were no Animals remaining, by the time I was old enough to visit Marvel’s (it was somewhere that was ‘off limits’ in the first couple of holidays that I can remember, as mum felt it was for older children than myself at that point.). One thing I do seem to remember, is during the earlier visits, there was still a blue-coloured ‘pool’ – I feel this may have been where the performing dolphins, sealions etc were previously located?

He also mentions the chairlifts, which have inspired a costume and art installation here at Stories From Scarborough, as well as a memory from another reader.

At first, once we started visiting, we used to go up via the road way, rather than the chairlifts – this was mainly my prompting, as I was fairly terrified of the chair lifts – I was convinced they would knock me off my feet, or that I would fall out of it once I was onboard!

However, I did get used to them, and from that point onwards, we always used the ‘green’ chairlifts to get up to marvel’s. We would often go up in the evening, using the chairlift whilst it was still open, and walking back down, and around Peasholm Park in the evening on the way back to the hotel.

We would also, sometimes, ride up during the day, crossing the site to the red chairlifts, and using them to get down to the northern end of the north bay. This would sometimes just be for the trip, sometimes to get to the sealife centre – however being a fan of the railway as well, I’d often be quite torn as to whether to use the train or the chairlift! We used the red chairlifts less often overall – the first time we used them, mum dropped a shoe, and I had to go back and fetch it afterwards – this probably put us off them slightly!

As for the other rides, he recalls the fearsome Big Dipper, and the more appealing Go-Gator:

Thinking about the rides, then… The Big Dipper, I only rode on once – mum was not keen on it, and I’d never been on any rollercoaster quite that large – or at least, it seemed very large to a young me. At the end of the sole ride I had, the brakes applied so sharply that I smacked my jaw into the hand/grab rail. It didn’t take long for me to decide that the go-gator was a much safer option, which I enjoyed, and therefore stuck with. I have a vague recollection of a ferris wheel there, too, but that may not be the case.

However, it wasn’t just rides that Mark remembered:

Although I remember the dinosaurs being there, I have little real memories of them, I’m afraid. I remember the model village quite well – the concept of being taller than buildings was quite entertaining to young me. I also remember the model village becoming quite run down towards the end of Marvel’s days, which kind of upset me, at the time. There was also a crazy golf course up there, which was something that had to be done every year – it was just ‘part of the holiday’.

I don’t remember Marvel’s doing souvenirs at all – they may have done, but I was too focused on the rides and other activities, I guess. They did have slot machines, however – this was something we did often on the evening trips – Marvel’s was much closer for an evening of slot machines, than the south bay. The main building I remember with them in, was fairly close to the top of the steps and benches that came up from the old ‘open air theatre’ area.

He also flagged up some new information that has not yet been covered here at Stories From Scarborough:

There was also a ‘water cannon’ type thing near the top of the stairs – you put money in (I think it was 10p at that point) and tried to hit targets with a spray of water – for no reason other than to do so, there was nothing to win, yet it was somehow very entertaining.

I remember they used to do a fireworks show, too – this often worked out on the week that me and mum visited Scarborough (or they may have done it every week, I can’t be sure on that) – so mum used to take me, and D, who was one of the sons of the hotel owners (same family I still holiday with, even now) up to see the fireworks display. Whilst we were standing around, waiting for the display to actually take place, the slots were great for keeping us occupied!

Once again, thanks to Mark for generously sharing his memories – written memories can be just as vivid as images, if not more so, and Stories From Scarborough is keen to hear from more of you if possible! It doesn’t matter how detailed your memory is, or how long or short, everything is relevant.

Did you ever visit Marvel’s or Scarborough Zoo? Or even the tennis courts that stood on the site before both attractions? Did you go on any of the rides? Climb the fibreglass mountains and/or dinosaurs? Take the chairlift? What was the model village like? Or the crazy golf?

Please comment or get in touch.

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.

1993

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.

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?

Thrill-seeking at Marvel’s and Scarborough Zoo

Marvel’s Amusement Park and its predecessor Scarborough Zoo featured a number of rides for thrill-seeking visitors.

marvelsflyer1

Above: A Marvel’s Poster featuring a list of rides (from the author’s personal collection)

The National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield, holds an impressive collection of photographs online, featuring many of the rides that once operated at both amusement park and zoo.

For digital security reasons these images cannot be reproduced here, although relevant links will be provided where appropriate.

One of the most prominent rides on the Marvel’s/Zoo site was The Big Dipper, not to be confused with the famous Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Below: The better known Blackpool Big Dipper – a very different ride (source)

The Scarborough Big Dipper was a much smaller model, which opened in 1973, as part of Scarborough Zoo. Manufactured by Pinfari, this ride, unlike its larger wooden Blackpool namesake, was made from steel.

You can view another image of the ride here, courtesy of the NFA Digital Archive at the University of Sheffield.

In 1999 the roller coaster was moved to Knowsley Safari Park, where it became known as Viper and operated between 2000 and 2006. Afterwards it may have been sold to a Spanish company, although confirmation of this has been difficult to find.

Above: The Viper logo (source)

Below: The ride at Knowsley Safari Park (source)

There was also a junior roller coaster for children, known as the Go-Gator, which ran from 1973 until 1999, just like the Big Dipper.

DSC_0051b

Above: Go-Gator ride (from the author’s personal collection)

An alternative view of the ride can be seen here at the NFA Digital Collection, University of Sheffield.

Another steel ride, manufactured by Wisdom, the Go-Gator featured a gently undulating track, traversed via carriages that resembled a cartoon alligator. There are still a number in operation today.

Above: The Go-Gator at nearby Flamingoland (source)

Scarborough Zoo also built up a collection of fairground staples, which its later reincarnation – Marvel’s – inherited. These included:

Waltzers

Dodgems

Paratroopers

Jets

Click the links to see photos from the NFA Digital Archive – images cannot be used or reproduced unless permission has been granted from the NFA at the University of Sheffield. Many more can be found by typing ‘Scarborough’ into the search box.

Some bore the name of Scarborough Zoo’s founder, Don Robinson. Others had more creative names, such as Super Cyclone Twist, and Stargazer.

 

Above: Cardboard copy of the Stargazer sign (source)

When Marvel’s replaced Scarborough Zoo in 1984, the attraction focused more on rides and thrill-seeking than ever before. It’s new name (Mr Marvel’s Showtime USA Fun Park – quite a mouthful!) and those of the rides suggested a desire to emulate the success of famous US theme parks. Indeed, when Don Robinson first developed the site back in the late 1960s, he recalls being inspired by Disneyland.

marvelsflyer2

Above: Another Marvel’s poster (from the author’s personal collection)

In line with this American-style re-branding, the chairlifts – once painted in different colours – were re-painted in a vivid red, and the publicity material featured a cartoon character dressed in the stars and stripes of the USA (see above).

DSC_0035

Above: The red chairlift (from the author’s personal collection).

Thanks to this timely makeover, the park survived for just over another decade. But as before, with the zoo, visitors were eventually lured away by bigger and more impressive theme parks. Attractions such as nearby Flamingoland boasted huge and terrifying roller coasters that dwarfed the humble Big Dipper at Marvel’s. Other North Bay attractions were also struggling at this time – when Marvel’s closed in 2002, neighbouring attractions Kinderland and Atlantis were both descending into financial difficulties, and would each close down several years later.

Does this then mean that the local funfair or amusement park is dead?

Visitors haven’t completely abandoned smaller attractions. Luna Park –  the fair near Scarborough Harbour – still survives, and travelling funfairs continue to exist. However, committed adrenaline junkies are drawn in greater numbers to bigger, scarier rides in regional parks (and those abroad); attractions better equipped to invest in the newest and most advanced rides. Nonetheless, the older rides offer a quaint nostalgia for adult passengers, and an introduction for younger riders, eager to begin their thrill-seeking adventures. Unfortunately Marvel’s can only offer memories now – the derelict site has lost its once exciting rides, and with them, its former identity.

Do you remember the rides at Marvel’s or the Zoo? Were you a thrill-seeker? Or did you prefer the gentler attractions at the amusement park? Please leave comments/corrections below.

Sources

National Fairground Archive

Roller Coaster Database

Joyland Books

Urbex Forums

Scarborough News

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.

kinderland6

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!

The Making of a Chairlift

When I started planning Stories From Scarborough, back in late 2013, one of the first ideas I had was to make a wearable chairlift.

Above: Design for a wearable chairlift (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The bright red chairlifts, that took passengers from Scarborough North Bay to Marvel’s Amusement Park in the 1980s and 1990s (and to Scarborough Zoo in the 1970s), remain vividly in my memory. As a child, it was incredibly thrilling to travel at what then seemed like a great height towards an exciting-looking fairground.

Above: Family photograph of the chairlift (from the author’s personal collection)

However, constructing such a structure is by no means a straightforward task, especially for someone with little expertise in making big 3D objects.

My first task was to understand the shape.

Above: Drawing the chairlift (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I made lots of drawings – at the time I didn’t have any red pens or pencils to hand, so used some red electrical tape that I happened to come across.

Fortunately the colour was just right!

After making the drawings I constructed some crude models using cardboard, tape, wire – any materials I could find really. Following considerable frustration and research I decided to make the frame using withies – often used in the construction of lanterns. I wanted something that was lightweight and malleable, but also reasonably strong.

The original chairlifts would likely have been made from fibreglass or something similarly robust. Alas, my budget does not allow for such extravagant spending! Nor will my chairlift be required to carry passengers at great heights.

Above: Withies, masking tape, wire and string (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Rather than attempt the complex shape of the top from the outset, I settled for a simple cone-like form, over which I could then add further layers. Following this I covered the form in newspaper to get a better sense of the shape.

Above: The top – with newspaper (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

With a better sense of the shape I added a thin layer of modroc, more newspaper and then, in a surprising twist, red electrical tape!

Above: Adding the tape (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

After the serendipitous success of the tape on my drawings, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t use the tape to create an interesting cover to my chairlift. 100% accuracy was never my aim in making this object – I simply wanted to create a likeness, with my own weird creative stamp on it.

Above: The two halves (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Many rolls of red tape later, I had two halves of a chairlift. Using garden canes attached to the bottom, I created a frame onto which the top could sit. Trouble was, the top didn’t want to sit in place – I spent a great deal of time messing with parcel tape (my newest solution to securing fragile joins) and pulling pieces apart before deciding to keep the top and bottom separate for transport purposes – I’m in Manchester right now and need to get this thing to Scarborough somehow this summer. And I don’t own a car.

Above: Trying out the costume (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Luckily I could hold the whole thing up as a costume without too much difficulty. All that remained was a great deal of tidying up, taping and securing bits and pieces. In the meantime I was also thinking about other uses for the chairlift (besides the costume idea).

Above: A new idea? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I imagined suspending the chairlift somewhere as an exhibition piece/sculpture – I could attach things to it, like memories of Marvel’s or references to former use of the site (it was once a zoo, and before that tennis courts…I’ve also heard rumours of a roller skating area).

Above: The chairlift as a sculpture/exhibition piece (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

In the end I attached balloons to the top. Just because.

I’ll be exhibiting a version of this in Manchester this June, as a sort of public introduction to the project.

When I arrive in Scarborough I hope to do this with it:

To see more of my art work, including previous projects, please visit my website and art blog.