HOARD: Stories From Scarborough in Leeds

Those of you who follow Stories From Scarborough on Facebook might remember me mentioning that I took parts of the archive to Leeds last weekend. I wanted to share the project more widely, and to explore Scarborough memories more creatively than is possible on the website alone. For this reason I approached HOARD – an arts project based in Leeds.

In a cavernous office block, located at a business park several miles from the centre of the city, a group of artists have been hoarding anything and everything – memories, objects, photographs, boxes, carrier bags, to name just a few. Inside the bland, carpeted expanses of the Darwin Building, the process of hoarding has been examined and transformed into engaging artwork, installations, performances, and workshops. After reading about the project online, I was keen to transfer some of the Stories From Scarborough collection from my studio (and computer) to this exciting-sounding space.

Above: My studio at Crescent Arts in Scarborough – much of the archive is currently stored here (source)

Curator Sarah Francis kindly allowed me to participate in HOARD, alongside a number of intriguing artists – some of whom travel considerable distances to take part. Their projects are in varying stages of development – by comparison I’m a mere novice; both to HOARD and its home at Leeds Valley Park. However, Stories From Scarborough shares some important similarities with the work on display – namely it explores what it means to hoard. Indeed, I haven’t just collected memories and stories, I’ve also done some creative experiments – some I’ve shared here at Stories From Scarborough – others on my regular arts blog.

Above: One of many painted signs I created, inspired by old pictures – this references a former Marvel’s ride (source)

Alongside conventional souvenirs and memories, I’ve been creating experimental artworks and performances, including a chairlift costume, signs and a fictional character who builds sandcastles and corrupts rearranges the archive, whenever the opportunity arises.

Above: The character performing at the 2014 Create@Salford festival (source)

It is this character that brought me and the project to HOARD on Saturday August 16th for an open day – the ethos of the project offered an ideal opportunity to begin re-assessing Stories From Scarborough. What it means, how it sits in a new space, and what it communicates to those who may not be familiar with Scarborough or its history.

Above: Setting up at HOARD (source)

So: what happened at HOARD? I put on my costume, and arranged/played with a selection of the archive, including photos, memorabilia, samples and artwork. Much of the archive is currently digital, so I will eventually need to find ways to store it physically. For now, however, it was just a case of presenting objects and memories, in the hope that perhaps some of the visitors to the HOARD open day would find it interesting.

Above: Re-examining the storage of the archive at HOARD (source)

Rather like a holidaymaker, I had travelled from Scarborough to Leeds with my suitcase. This particular suitcase is the one that accompanied my family and I on our Scarborough holidays during the late 1980s and 1990s. I am now using it to transport the archive. During the performance at HOARD I tied it up like a giant parcel. The string reminded me of the spider webs you often find devouring boxes of memories stored in lofts.

This crude experiment also questions the accessibility of archives. During my research for Stories From Scarborough (and in previous archive work) I have found that archive organisations/representatives vary greatly. Some are wonderful (like Archives+ in Manchester, who I had the pleasure of working with last year), and will go out of their way to help you. I’m also very grateful to the individuals and organisations who have helped with Stories From Scarborough so far.

Others, sadly, seem reluctant or unable to help and guard their collections with a vigilance that can feel unwelcoming. Certainly, copyright, ethics and legal issues make archive guardianship a challenging task, but surely the responsibility to share is just as important as the responsibility to protect the collection?

Below: Part of my archival display at HOARD (source)

The dinosaur(s) were a reference to Marvel’s. Rather like historical programmes on television, in which actors recreate scenes from the past, Stories From Scarborough also features a number of items that reconstruct the histories of former attractions; in the absence of tangible souvenirs. The FRAGILE tape, on the other hand played a part in the chairlfit costume I designed, and here it was used to indicate the fragility of Scarborough’s former attractions – and all memories of them. No one remembers exactly what Kinderland, Marvel’s, Atlantis etc were really like – their temporary existence is long over, and the memories have since become mythologised and shrouded in the mists of nostalgia.

Above: One of the signs I created for HOARD – a reference to the rose tinted glasses through which holidays are remembered (source)

HOARD’s home at the Darwin Building – an office space – is a strange place. In this great vastness, it was easy to feel lost, and Stories From Scarborough felt small and strange. None of the visitors I spoke to knew of the attractions in the archive – some remembered similar places from their own childhood memories – the idea of a seaside holiday is fairly ubiquitous British tradition. Or rather it once was. Nonetheless, it made me think more about how Scarborough’s attractions and their histories might link up with those of other seaside towns and tourist destinations.

Indeed, as I re-arranged the archive and objects I’d brought with me, which included water from Scarborough Mere, an album full of old photographs and a tennis racquet that was used on the tennis courts that preceded Scarborough Zoo, I found myself thinking a great deal about what Stories From Scarborough actually means.

Above: Considering new arrangements (source)

Due to the intermittent flow of visitors, it was possible to sit back and think about the collection in a new space – a peaceful environment conducive to ideas. I was able to photograph my experiments and consider performance ideas that might be developed in future events.

Above: Contemplation time (source)

Even better, Stories From Scarborough ended up in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Monday August 18th, as part of a feature on the HOARD open day.

Above: HOARD feature in the Yorkshire Post (source)

Aside from all of this, there was some fantastic work on display at HOARD by other artists, which I hope to write about elsewhere in a separate post. Seeing the work of fellow artists also gave me lots of ideas about developing the creative side of Stories From Scarborough, and really made me think about how to transform the archive into something that only interests specific people with specific memories of a specific place at specific points in time, to something that reaches further afield, and is much more critically engaging. Hopefully, via continued involvement with HOARD, I can give this archive, and Scarborough’s former attractions, a new lease of life.

Memories From Atlantis

Stories From Scarborough has been fortunate to receive a number of excellent written memories from Mark, who has so far discussed his recollections of Marvel’s and Kinderland. Now it’s time for Atlantis. If you want to read more about Atlantis and its former lives (as Water Splash World, Waterscene and the North Bay Bathing Pool), please take a look at the following links:

The Blue Waters of Atlantis (brief history and introduction)

Swimming In Scarborough: Battle Of The Bathing Pools (North vs South Bay bathing pools)

Before The North Bay Bathing Pool: The Northstead Estate (more about the site of the pool)

North Bay Pool: For Bathing Or Boating? (North Bay Bathing Pool – early days)

Atlantis: A Short Film

Pictures Of Water Splash World And Atlantis

Upon opening in 1995, Atlantis inherited, amongst other features, what were once the longest slides in Europe, or as promotional material boasted, “amongst the longest in the world”. It was these slides, that initially enticed Mark into Atlantis.

My main reason for dragging mum into Atlantis, was definitely the slides… From the outside, it was difficult to see much, due to the high walls, but the slides could be seen from the hotel door!

I rode both the slides, several times, over the couple of visits – they looked like fun, till the first time you got to the top, and looked down into the blue half-tube slides – of course, you couldn’t see over the sides, and therefore the height, but they were definitely pretty scary. After the first time, the scared element became something of a thrill, I think.

But Atlantis wasn’t just about the slides – the water park had many other features:

I remember there were areas that seemed distinctly separate, pools and such. There were even fences between some of the areas, on my second visit. I remember at the Seaward end, there was an area with a large floating barrier, and something like a high powered waterfall/jet of water, coming in from the side of the pool.

I can’t remember if there was a wave pool, I’m afraid… I have a vague memory of an area with timed water fountains in a large, circular area – to run onto, and then get caught in the middle of the fountains of water. Also, something like a tall mushroom, which water poured off the edges of, and down in a curtain of water. There was an area near this, with ropes strung between two islands, however I’m not entirely sure what these were for.

Diving boards… I only remember one. There may have been others, but I only remember one. This was immediately behind, and above, the main entrance, where some sort of ‘preparation’ area for the M.A.P. is located, I believe, now. When you entered from the street, I think you had to turn left or right, to go around the pool to the changing rooms – the wall in front of you, making you turn left or right, supported the diving board, which was accessed by steps, I think from either side of the entrance. No real memory of the changing rooms, I’m afraid.

Atlantis also hosted a special guest – the Hispaniola was briefly ‘moored’ at the water park during the mid 1990s before being repaired and eventually resurrected as an attraction on the South Bay, where it still sails today. Mark remembers this strange sight from his Scarborough visits:

I remember, some time towards the mid 90’s, a boat ‘turned up’ in Atlantis – not floating, however. I believe this may have been the Hispaniola from the Mere, from what I (well, mum) was told when I was quite keen to know where this had come from – it looked like a boat capable of sailing, and this caught my curiosity. The boat was at the inland end of the site, when I remember it being there.

He also recalls the fate of Atlantis following its closure in 2007:

I seem to remember the slides outlasting the pools and changing rooms, once demolition started – the slides and the tower standing behind the glassed in building which is now the shooting range, I think – with the slides essentially stopping in mid air, nowhere to reach to. At this point, the pools had been filled in, and a small theme park/fairground of sorts was taking place there instead. I believe the base of the tower, where the slides started from, may still be there in the grass behind the M.A.P.

Indeed, remnants of Atlantis remain part of the Military Adventure Park site – many of the remaining structures date back to the days of the North Bay Bathing Pool, which initially opened as a small boating pool in 1935.

A huge thanks to Mark, who has taken the time to put these memories in writing. Words are just as powerful as images in evoking memories, so if you remember any of the attractions listed on Stories From Scarborough, please consider sending a sentence or two via email, or even leave a short comment below.

All contributions are treated with the utmost care, and can be removed at your request at any point following submission.

Atlantis – A Short Film

The following film was kindly shared with Stories From Scarborough by Leonie, who holidayed in Scarborough during the 1980s and 1990s. It was shot in 1995; the year in which Water Splash World became Atlantis.

You can view the video in it’s original location here.

You can also read more about Atlantis and its history by checking out the following links:

The Blue Waters of Atlantis (brief history and introduction)

Swimming in Scarborough: Battle of the Bathing Pools (early history of the pool)

Before The North Bay Bathing Pool: The Northstead Estate (before the pool was built)

The North Bay Pool: For Boating or Bathing? (when boats sailed on the pool)

The pool closed in 2007 and is now the Military Adventure Park.

A huge thank you to Leonie for sharing her memories!

Anyone is very welcome to share memories with Stories From Scarborough, and even once you’ve donated material, you are free to retract it at any time. Please do get in touch if interested.

Marvel’s: A New Playground?

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

To view the others, please click here.

As I mentioned in this post, the current (derelict) Marvel’s site is an eerie place. The broken glass, empty beer cans, graffiti and scorch marks suggest a radical departure from the amusement park of old. And, indeed, its predecessor Scarborough Zoo.

Above: Marvel’s used to be here – only remnants are left (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I wondered if it would be possible to reclaim this place as a cheerful, colourful scene – a space for fun, games and creativity. In a bid to find out, I made an early morning visit, donned my childhood costume and tested out some ideas.

Above: Returning to Marvel’s, over a decade after it closed (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Derelict sites can be thrilling places for children. Often designated as dangerous and out of bounds by adults, there is a certain allure to crumbling structures and overgrown fixtures; even more so when you’re not supposed to be there.

Above: Sneaking in to play games with a Kinderland frisbee (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

My character, in part represents that naughty child.

Above: Vandalised chairlift strut – and a childhood protest (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The question is, does she want Marvel’s back?

Above: A makeshift protest? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Or is she looking for the Zoo?

Above: The Zoo disappeared over twenty years ago (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Perhaps it’s just trouble that she’s after.

Above: Scrapping with a playmate? Or herself? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

As an artist I want Stories From Scarborough to be more than just a collection of memories.

Above: Where did the Go-Gator go? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

The memories are of course vitally important – they are the base, the stories that need recording before people forget. But they are also starting points for new ideas, for new ways of thinking about the lost attractions.

Above: Memories are not fixed, or solid – they are blurry, fluid and changeable (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Below: As time passes, these moments become shadowy, like ghosts (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

I like to think that this project will eventually become a melting pot of ideas; ranging from straightforward recollections to strange stories. Fact and fiction, all mixed up. After all, this is what memory is – a combination of things that may have actually happened, coloured with generalisations, editing and pure invention.

Above: A haunted landscape? (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Ultimately these ghosts of the past are rooted in imagination – childhood memories in particular often end up bestowed with a mythical status; a nostalgia for the past that the present and future can never hope to match. This project has already changed my own memories of Scarborough beyond recognition – instead of strengthening nostalgia’s hold, it has opened up a complex chasm of questions. Now I’m asking, what exactly is it that I really remember? Why do others remember what they do? And how might these stories be written and rewritten into Scarborough’s landscapes?

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.

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.