Thomas Warwick’s Revolving Tower(s)

Between 1898 and 1907, a tall, rotating, observation tower stood on Scarborough’s North Cliff, not far from the town’s iconic castle. It was known as Warwick’s Tower.

Pier, Castle and Revolving Tower from Albert Drive

Above: A view of the tower from Albert Drive, including the pier and the castle (source)

Revolving towers were a quirky fad of the late 1800s and early 1900s. A number of Britain’s most popular seaside towns had their own, with an observation deck and views of the nearby landscape. Morecambe, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough and others, eager to capitalise on the British seaside holiday boom, sought new and exciting attractions with which to tempt eager holidaymakers.

But where did the idea of a revolving tower come from?

The idea was originally conceived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the U.S., where the first structure of this nature was created. American engineers and inventors sought out bigger and better ways to transport visitors into the sky, from ferris wheels at fairs and beaches to skyscrapers in cities.


Above: An early example of the rotating tower

It was within this climate of ambition and adrenaline, that a Methodist preacher called Jesse Lake invented the revolving observation tower, after developing a fascination with machinery during his youth. Once built, the structure at Atlantic City was steel framed and 125 feet tall, with a pavilion below for amusements, games, exhibitions and waxworks.

However, Lake never patented his design.

In the late 1800s enterprising Englishman Thomas Warwick travelled to the U.S and came back with an American wife, and a burning ambition to reproduce Lake’s ambitious revolving tower. A London engineer by trade, Warwick cannily patented the revolving observation tower in 1894, ensuring that his company would be the sole provider of these strange structures across the country. The design was based on a moving platform, powered by a mixture of steam and weights, and raised via a steel cable.


Above: Great Yarmouth’s tower – which proved to be the longest-running and most successful

Great Yarmouth pioneered the British version in 1897, closely followed by Morecambe and Scarborough 1898. The towers rose 150 feet over the landscape and accommodated 200 visitors at a time.


Above: The view from Great Yarmouth’s tower

The towers encountered mixed fortunes – following the initial novelty, the Douglas Tower was destroyed by fire in 1900, only a year after opening. The Morecambe version was taken down when Warwick’s company folded in 1902, whereas Scarborough’s version struggled on for several more years.


Above: There was also a revolving tower at Cleethorpes

Great Yarmouth, the first revolving tower in the U.K., also proved to be the most resilient, with a local business formed specially to save it. It lasted until 1941, in spite of being plagued with faults during the interwar years. During WWI, regulations meant that the tower unable to operate after dark, leading to a loss of profits.


Above: The tower at Cleethorpes was converted into a ride

Before the tower at Cleethorpes succumbed to demolition, it was converted into a ride. Passenger cars, shaped like boats, where attached to the moving platform with chains, and operated as a fairground ride of sorts. But what about Scarborough’s tower?


Above: A view of the tower from Clarence Gardens, shortly before its demolition (source)

Warwick’s creation attracted controversy in Scarborough from the beginning – although initially popular it was soon deemed an eyesore, and fell into disrepair after Warwick’s company was dissolved in 1902. Finally one man – Alfred Shuttleworth – actively financed the demolition process, which began in 1906 and was finally completed by 1907, shortly after the nearby pier (which also experienced mixed fortunes) was destroyed by a storm in 1905.

Indeed, the seaside attraction business was, and still is, a ruthless one…


Easdown, M. (2012) Amusement Park Rides, Shire Publications, Oxford, U.K.

Randl, C. (2008) Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings That Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, U.S.

Scarborough News

Woodhouse, R. (2013) The Scarborough Book of Days, The History Press, Stroud, U.K.

Scarborough Fair: A Traditional Yorkshire Ballad – Part I

This article was originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 2, 2014) by Gillian Morris. She has kindly contributed her work to be republished here.


By the 13th century Scarborough was a busy market town. In 1253, during the reign of Henry III, (1216-72) it was granted a charter to hold an annual fair. The charter stated:

The Burgesses and their heirs forever may have a yearly fayre in the Borough, to continue from the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary until the Feast of St Michael next following.

The fair started on August 15th and lasted for 45 days. This was an unusually long period for such an event to be held, and, during the course of the event the borough was converted into an open market, attracting large crowds.


Above: This illustration depicts a crowded Medieval fair in a market square. There are many stalls selling fruit, vegetables, fish, poultry and meat. A juggler is entertaining the crowd and a monk is preaching to a small gathering near the market cross (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)

During the Medieval period, fairs more closely resembled markets. They were generally held only once a year and attracted traders and entertainers from all over the country.


Above: Another Medieval fair scene showing travelling merchants with tents and market stalls. A variety of goods are being sold, a juggler is performing and some people are drinking in a tent. Nearby a tailor is negotiating with a noble lady (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)

The opening of the fair was celebrated with an elaborate ceremony. Town officers rode on decorated horses, and were joined by musicians as they travelled through the narrow streets, reading the proclamation of the fair, and welcoming strangers to the town, who were urged to sell goods ‘of true worth’.

Everyone was invited to ‘sport and play’ and to ‘do all things’, with the proviso that ‘nowt amiss’ (nothing remiss) should happen!

Scarborough Fair became internationally famous, and merchants came from across England and even Europe – some visitors came from as far afield as Flanders, Norway and Denmark. Each stallholder had to pay 2d to the Burgesses, and, on the opening day of ‘Scarborough Fayre’ (15 August), the town’s householders had to pay their annual Gablage Tax. This tax dated from 1181 and was one of the ‘first rates’ levied in Scarborough.

In the 13th and 14th centuries each house with a gable facing the street had to pay four pence and every house with its front facing the street paid six pence.

The fair enjoyed its fair share of controversies. In 1256 the Burgesses of Scarborough complained that the markets of Filey, Sherburn and Brompton were a ‘nuisance of their borough’. The Burgesses pleaded to the King’s Court for them to be abolished – on the grounds that they were taking trade away from Scarborough.

On this occasion the Burgesses were successful and the other markets were discontinued.

This was to be the forerunner of a more serious dispute, against Seamer, where even today the fair is still observed on St Swithin’s Day. Seamer’s charter was granted by Richard II to Henry de Percy, Earl of Northumberland, in 1383. In the following year Scarborough began a law suit at the Court of the Queen’s Bench, demanding that Seamer’s fair be suppressed, due to the detrimental effect it supposedly had upon the success of Scarborough’s event.

Indeed, during this time, Scarborough’s prosperity more generally had begun to suffer. The number of bakers declined, some drapers closed their shops, and a number of butchers, weavers and tailors closed down. Even public houses suffered, with only about half remaining in business!

The trial against Seamer cost Scarborough dearly, some £2,000 to achieve victory in 1602, but their triumph was short-lived, when James I decided to grant another charter to the rival town. Again the Seamer market was suppressed, but its success could not be prevented indefinitely – when the event was once more revived in the 18th century, its popularity far surpassed that of Scarborough Fair, which ended in 1788.


Above: An illustration of Scarborough Castle and the town in the 1300s (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)

Although the traditional Scarborough Fair no longer exists a number of celebrations take place every September to mark the original event, and the well known ballad about it, remains popular to this day. More on that in Part II


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 2, 2014). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Gillian for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough! Watch out for Part II, coming soon…

Anne Bronte: Scarborough Connections – Part IV

This article was originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 3, 2015) by Claire Mason. She has kindly contributed her work to be republished here. You can read Part I of the article by visiting this link, Part II by clicking here, and Part III by clicking here.

As already mentioned in Part I, Anne Bronte visited Scarborough many times with the Robinsons, a family she worked for, as a governess, between 1840 and 1845. She came to love the seaside town, and on her final visit, in 1849, she died there, as detailed in Part II. Part III explored some of the places she may have visited, as will this current installment – Part IV.

Shortly before her death, Anne Bronte insisted on visiting one of Scarborough’s many baths, although there is some debate as to the venue in question.  The sketch below shows Harland’s Baths at the corner of Falconer’s Road (on the right) and Vernon Place (now Vernon Road on the left). Winifred Gerin, one of Anne’s biographers, suggests that these were the baths Anne attended a few days before she died.


Above: Harland Baths (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

However, this may not necessarily be the case. It is certainly a possibility that Anne attended these baths when she visited Scarborough, with the Robinsons during the early 1840s. The tower, which can be seen above the buildings in the old sketch is Christ Church, where Anne and the Robinsons worshipped, and ultimately where Anne’s funeral was conducted. The illustration was sketched in about 1841, and appeared in various editions of Theakston’s ‘Guide to Scarborough’ throughout the 1840s. It is accompanied by the following description of Harland’s Baths:

This commodious and elegant establishment is situated in the New Road, near to Vernon Place. The interior of the Baths is fitted up with considerable taste, and the edifice has been much enlarged, and the accommodation for visitors augmented. The Baths are constantly supplied with pure sea-water, and no expense has been spared by the proprietor to render them worthy of an enlarged share of public support.

The next illustration, below, shows Travis’ Baths, situated at the top end of St. Nicholas Cliff, just over 100 yards from Wood’s Lodgings, which can actually be seen in the background, to the right of the baths. It is more likely that Anne bathed here with the Robinsons; and these are probably the baths she attended alone (rather than Harland’s), a few days before she died.


Above: Travis’ Baths (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

This building does not exist today. This sketch shows the view over St. Nicholas Cliff, on the right, with the sea and cliffs in the distance. The illustration was created in about 1841, and appeared, once again in various editions of Theakston’s ‘Guide to Scarborough’ throughout the 1840s. Theakston also presented this description of Travis’s Baths with the illustration:

This respectable establishment, situated at the entrance to St. Nicholas’ Cliff, was originally opened in 1798. It has since been re-built, and the interior fitted up with every attention to comfort and elegance. The Baths are of wood and marble, and are adapted either for plunging, sitting, or the recumbent position. Every tide, these baths are supplied with pure sea water, and admit of every variety of temperature. Rooms are also fitted up for Steam, the Douche, and Shower Baths.

The sea-water for these baths would have been transported beneath the Cliff Bridge (now Spa Bridge), and up Falconer’s Road (now Vernon Road).


Above: This drawing shows the South Bay, but this time from the castle entrance. The date given with the picture is ‘c.1850’, although Anne’s grave does not appear to be present in the graveyard, so it could have been produced earlier, that is, assuming that the artist produced an accurate portrayal of the scene (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Nonetheless, pictures such as the one above represent the Scarborough that Anne knew. All the main landmarks are visible, St. Mary’s church on the right; a little way to the left of this, in the distance, the tower of Christ Church (dark coloured), where Anne worshipped with the Robinsons and where her funeral was conducted. Just left of the centre is the Cliff Bridge, with Wood’s Lodgings immediately to the right. On the extreme left is Henry Wyatt’s Gothic Saloon (on the site of the current Spa buildings); and, of course, Oliver’s Mount stands behind the new buildings on South Cliff.


Above: This painting is undated but was likely produced around the mid to late 1840s, around the same time that Anne made her visits to Scarborough (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

In the above picture, a group of people appear to be having a picnic on one of the more level sections of the South Cliff. On the right, a young lady with a parasol takes a stroll along one of the cliff pathways. Just left of the centre, on the beach, is Henry Wyatt’s Gothic Saloon, now ‘The Spa’. Beyond this is the Cliff Bridge; and a little to the right, in white, and the re-structured Wood’s Lodgings with its new down-the-cliff extension clearly visible.


Above: Anne’s signature, taken from one of the educational books she used while employed as a governess at Thorp Green – dated 19th September 1843 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Anne loved Scarborough and portrayed the town in her novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.


Above: An aerial view of the St. Nicholas Cliff, Scarborough from 1935 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The Grand Hotel, which replaced Wood’s Lodgings (where Anne stayed) and Christ Church (where Anne’s funeral was conducted) are indicated in the above image. The Spa Bridge, where Anne took many walks, is on the left, with the Rotunda museum just beyond it (extreme left). In the foreground are the South Sands, where Anne loved to walk beside the sea, and this part of the landscape inspired some of the concluding scenes of her novel, Agnes Grey.


Above: This plaque is mounted on the wall of the Grand Hotel, indicating that Anne ‘died in a house on this site on May 28th. 1849’. The author would like to acknowledge Michael Armitage for permission to use this copyrighted material from his website on Anne Bronte at www.mick- (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

According to Ellen Nussey’s diary, on the day following Anne’s burial, she and Charlotte Bronte visited Scarborough Castle, and would have passed Anne’s grave along the way. Also, on that day, the Scarborough Gazette reported in its ‘Visitors List’ the arrival of “Miss Bronte” at No. 2 The Cliff, and provided a short obituary for her:

On the 28th inst, at this place, of consumption, Miss Anne Bronte of Brookroyd, Birstall near Leeds.

This address in fact belonged to Anne’s travelling companion, Ellen Nussey, mentioned above, who arranged this entry in the Gazette. Ironically, on the front page of this same edition was an advertisement for the Scarborough Circulating Library, which put Jane Eyre – written by Anne’s sister Charlotte, at the top of its list of new popular novels.


Above: The walkway leading towards Scarborough Castle in about 1889 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The above image includes Anne Bronte’s grave. Her sister Charlotte and travelling companion Ellen would have taken this path the day after Anne’s burial. They would have entered the castle through the gateway seen in the centre of the picture.


Above: A view of St. Mary’s Church from the entrance to Scarborough Castle (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The above image is from around 1887, and in the detached part of the burial ground Anne’s gravestone can be seen. In the middle of the roadway is a drinking fountain with a conical shaped roof. It was erected in 1860 to commemorate Scarborough’s first historian, Thomas Hinderwell. His history of the town first appeared in print in 1798.

The fountain was badly positioned, and when horse-drawn vehicles gave way to automobiles, it was frequently knocked by passing traffic, until finally a reversing lorry demolished it entirely.

The landscapes depicted in this article may have changed considerably since Anne’s visits to Scarborough, back in the mid 1800s, but her grave still remains at St. Mary’s Church, and is frequently visited by tourists to this day.


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Autumn, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough!

Anne Bronte: Scarborough Connections – Part III

This article was originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 3, 2015) by Claire Mason. She has kindly contributed her work to be republished here. You can read Part I of the article by visiting this link, and Part II by clicking here.

As already mentioned in Part I, Anne Bronte visited Scarborough many times with the Robinsons, a family she worked for, as a governess, between 1840 and 1845. She came to love the seaside town, and on her final visit, in 1849, she died there, as detailed in Part II.

There is much misconception surrounding which members of the Bronte family actually visited Scarborough. Anne visited at least four or five times with the Robinson family, followed, five years later, by her final, visit with Charlotte and their friend Ellen Nussey. The latter occasion was Charlotte’s first visit to the resort, and she only returned once, three years later, to visit Anne’s grave. Branwell was at Scarborough on two occasions, when he accompanied Anne and the Robinson family. Emily had planned to accompany Anne on a short visit during the summer of 1845, but the venue was changed to York.

There is no indication, therefore, that Emily, or Patrick, Anne’s father, ever visited Scarborough.

The Scarborough that Anne knew was in many ways different from the town today. This part of the article explores some of the areas she is likely to have visited.


Above: A sketch showing the view across the Cliff Bridge from Wood’s Lodgings in around 1849, the year Anne died (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Beyond and below the bridge in the picture, is Henry Wyatt’s ‘Gothic Saloon’, beside which are the Spa Wells. At the bridge entrance is the Toll Booth where tickets could be purchased allowing unlimited access to the bridge and Spa Wells for a one, two, or four week period, or indeed the entire season. Anne took many walks across this bridge; indeed, the day before she died, she accompanied Charlotte, and their friend Ellen Nussey, along it. Today, the bridge is known as the Spa Bridge and it leads to several footpaths, one of which gradually descends to the Spa buildings, which stand on the site of the old Gothic Saloon.


Above: Henry Wyatt’s ‘Gothic Saloon’ (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The Gothic Saloon, which stood on the site of today’s Spa, opened with dancing and fireworks on 16th August 1839, the year before Anne’s first visit to Scarborough. On the extreme right of the above picture is the Cliff Bridge (now Spa Bridge), above and to the left of it can be seen the tower of Christ Church, indicated in the picture, at the top of Vernon Place (now Vernon Road). This was the church in which Anne and the Robinsons worshipped, and ultimately where Anne’s funeral was conducted.


Above: An illustration dated around 1845, showing the view from a bridge-like structure which led from the cliff pathway to the roof of the Gothic Saloon (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Whilst in Scarborough Anne had stayed at Wood’s Lodgings, which is clearly marked on the above picture, along with St. Mary’s Church (her burial place) and the castle on the right. In the foreground is the entrance to the underground room which contained the Spa Wells. In 1626, a natural spring was discovered here by Elizabeth Farrow, and the water was believed to have great healing properties. From this time until around the mid-1800s, many summer pilgrimages were made to the ‘Spa’and people would take the waters in the hope of a cure for a multitude of ailments.

The full story of Scarborough Spa, originally published in the Yorkshire Journal, is available here on Stories From ScarboroughPart I is here and Part II here.

Although it is not recorded, it is quite possible that Anne may have tried the famous spa waters in 1849, hoping they might assist in her recovery from consumption. She may also have sampled them when visiting Scarborough with the Robinsons some years earlier, as she also suffered from asthma, an ailment the spa water reputedly cured.


Above: The Spa’s water pipe today (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

If Anne had indeed visited the Spa, then she would have walked down a flight of steps which still survive today and are pictured later in this article. The overflow of the spa water came out of a small pipe in the wall, as shown above. The water is no longer used for medicinal purposes.


Above: The Spa, from, ‘The Poetical Sketches of Scarborough’,1813. Later the steps and wooden fencing were replace in stone (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Below: Steps leading down to the well and beach, far right the spa well set in the wall (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)


Before the Spa as it is today, the Gothic saloon (pictured below) was the place to go for Scarborough’s visitors as they sought out the healing properties of the town’s waters. It proved to be far too small to cater for the crowds and was redeveloped in 1858 to accommodate more visitors. However, as Anne died in 1849, she would have only seen the original saloon building.


Above: A view across Scarborough’s South Bay from just beyond the Gothic Saloon (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The above sketch was drawn in 1839, just after the saloon had been opened.


Above: A sketch of a view from the South Bay seafront by Francis Nicholson, c.1832. (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The above picture shows Anne’s former accommodation, Wood’s Lodgings (top right), the Spa Bridge in the centre. and the Gothic Saloon on the left. Even the pathway that leads from the Spa Bridge down to the Saloon and the Spa Well, can easily be identified. This pathway remains today. Also in this sketch are a number of bathing huts on the sands with horse riders, and carriages.


Above: Undated sketch, estimated to have been drawn between 1845 and 1850 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

The Rotunda Museum (shown above on the left) was described by Anne’s brother, Branwell, in an unfinished novel. It is inconceivable to think that Anne would not have paid a visit here with the Robinsons, if not alone, she may have taken the Robinson children there as an educational exercise. The building was erected, specifically as a museum, in 1829, and the rectangular side wings were added in the 1860s.

The building still serves as a museum today and was renovated in 2006.

The full story of Rotunda Museum has been published in the Yorkshire Journal, Winter 2011 edition.


Above: A crayon sketch by W. Tindall, produced around 1840, the year Anne made her first visit to Scarborough. Once again, to the right of the museum, on the cliff, is the early Wood’s Lodgings ‘house’. On the right is a pool created by the ‘Mill Beck’, the water gradually making its way beneath the Cliff Bridge (now known as the Spa Bridge), and across the South Sands to the sea (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Below: The Rotunda Museum with the two rectangular side wings which were added in the 1860s. It is overlooked by the Grand Hotel, which was later built on the site of Wood’s Lodgings House, where Anne spent her final days (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)


In 2006 the Rotunda Museum was renovated and is as a centre of geology for the region.


Above: The Rotunda today (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Autumn, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough! There is one final installment of this article to come, so watch this space…

The Grand Opening of Peasholm Park

Peasholm Park is one of Scarborough’s best loved and longest running attractions. From its conception in the early 1900s by Borough Engineer Harry W. Smith, the park has offered much to visitors, from features inspired by China and Japan, to lively naval re-enactments in the summer.

Peasholm Park

Above: Peasholm Park (source)

When the park officially opened, on June 19, 1912, an unnamed journalist from the Yorkshire Post wrote a beautiful piece in the paper (Thursday June 20, 1912) about the park, its construction and the opening, selections of which are included here, as impressions of Peasholm Park during its earliest days of operation.

Peasholm Park

Above: Peasholm Park during the early years (source)

Described as “an excellent bit of landscape gardening”, the article describes a site measuring 11.5 acres – 8 of which were purchased from the Crown (as part of the Northstead Estate) and a private firm, and the rest from the Corporation, which acquired the land “some years ago for allotments and other purposes.”

Apparently the site, known locally as Tucker’s Field, had also been used as a rubbish dump.

Laying out began in December 1911, and 60 men were employed to work on the park over the winter. By summer 1912, “residents have marvelled at the change brought about in so short time”, and the article notes that:

An outstanding feature of the park is a good-sized ornamental lake, with islands and waterfall, and a chain of smaller lakes extending at different levels up the glen, the total water area being 4.5 acres and the average depth 3ft.

(from the Yorkshire Post, Thursday June 20, 1912)

This was a much simpler park than that of today.

Peasholm Park

Above: Peasholm Park – a view of the lake (source)

Furthermore, the process of creating the park uncovered some fascinating historical remains:

Archaeology has something to say in this improvement. It is stated that the larger lake is over the site of the Manor of Northstead, the stewardship of which is sometimes assigned to members of Parliament wishing to retire. In the course of the excavations the foundations of ancient buildings were unearthed.

What looked like the base of a tower bore traces of Norman origin, as did also the remains of a fireplace, built with tiles laid in herring-bone fashion similar to that seen in the Keep of Scarborough Castle. Small portions of painted glass of the 15th century were found, a large number of stone tiles, a silver penny of the reign of Edward II, a bronze spur, and many broken fragments of medieval pottery.

The remains showed that the whole of the buildings were surrounded by a wall enclosing a considerable area of ground, extending up the sides and across the large mound, which now forms the main island in the lake, and of which traces can still be seen.

Unfortunately the whole of these foundations could not be left exposed to view, as they were much below the water level of the lake. But the plan of them has been made, and will be preserved. Some portions of the tower foundations project above the water line.

(from the Yorkshire Post, Thursday June 20, 1912)

The author then goes on to describe the park in more detail.

The large island in the lake is of natural formation and rises above the water level to a height of some 45 feet. It has been ornamentally planted, and a series of winding walks lead to the top, from which there is a charming view of the district. The smaller island was formed out of material excavated to form the lake, and is intended as a refuge for the waterfowl.

The lagoon between the large and small islands is planted with a varied assortment of water lilies and other aquatic plants.The lake has been stocked with some 2,000 fish, chiefly perch, roach and tench, and it is intended later on to issue tickets for fishing.

A very pretty Japanese wooden bridge connects the island with  the mainland. A small shelter or arbour of quant design has been built. A boat-house of Japanese design  with landing stage is raised over the lake on brick piers. The lake is fed from the brooklet which rises in Raincliffe Woods and runs through the Ravine, and enters the large lake over a double waterfall some 9 feet in length. This waterfall is flanked on either side with extensive rockeries, beautifully furnished with ornamental shrubs, the  large clumps of New Zealand flax being very conspicuous.

Boating without risk can be indulged in. There are three Canadian canoes, two pair-oared rowing skiffs, three single-oared skiffs, three dinghies and one large family boat. Only £2,000 has been spent in making this interesting transformation, including the part purchase of the land, boats, buildings, etc., and it is, therefore, one of the most effective and economical of improvements the town has seen.

(from the Yorkshire Post, Thursday June 20, 1912)

Peasholm Park

Above: The park later became a leafy paradise (source)

The opening, as with all new attractions in Scarborough during the late 1800s and early to mid 1900s, was of course a grand ceremonial affair:

The Mayor and Mayoress (Mr. and Mrs T.H. Good), accompanied the whole body of aldermen  and councillors in their scarlet and violet robes, and by the town officials, drove to the park from the Town Hall. At a rustic gateway the Mayoress untied a tricolour ribbon and declared the park open to the public. Alderman M. T. Whittaker, chairman of the Committeee which carried out the work, tendered to her the thanks of the Corporation, and in reply the Mayor observed that there was no health or pleasure resort in England where there were so many public parks and places of recreation and amusement as in Scarborough.

After these preliminaries, the Corporation forthwith took to the water. In other words, they had a trial trip on the boats round the lake, rowed by expert oarsmen. The stern of the boat in which the mayor and Mayoress, the Deputy Mayor, and the Town Clerk were seated,  sank deep in the water, and some onlookers feared lest civic dignity might be compromised by a capsize. But the entire voyage was made in safety.

(from the Yorkshire Post, Thursday June 20, 1912)

Peasholm Park

Above: Local dignitaries at the opening of Peasholm Park in 1912 (source)

In contrast with the veteran father of the Corporation appeared a little lady in a canoe, shading herself with an umbrella (Japanese, of course, to harmonise with bridge and boat-house), privileged to be there by a part she had played in the ceremony in presenting the mayoress with a bouquet. Stepping ashore, the company walked over the bridge and round the island, and then left to discharge the second ceremony of the afternoon.

(from the Yorkshire Post, Thursday June 20, 1912)

Peasholm Park

Above: A view of the lake and island – the pagoda was not constructed until 1929 (source)

The information in this post was obtained from an old edition of the Yorkshire Post (Thursday June 20, 1912) at the British Library and was verified by checking against various other sources used in the research for this project.

Sea Bathing and the First Bathing Machine at Scarborough: Part II

This is the second part of an article originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Spring Issue, 2012) by Sarah Harrison. She has kindly given permission for her work to be republished here. You can read Part I by clicking here.

Article Summary:

Scarborough rapidly became a fashionable spa town and the first original English seaside resort after the discovery, in about 1626, (by a Mrs. Farrer) of natural mineral springs at South Bay. It also saw the arrival of the first bathing machines in 1735. “Taking the Waters” quickly became Scarborough’s accepted medicine and its fame promptly spread.


Above: This photo was taken by the well known photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe in about 1905. He has captured a crowed scene on the sands at Scarborough’s South Bay. Scarborough Castle and harbour can be seen in the distance. At the edge of the sea are a number of bathing machines and beyond, swimmers can be seen in the sea. There are stalls on the sands and two horse riders on the Foreshore. (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)

The bathing machine was a mobile changing room for swimmers, it allowed people to change out of their usual clothes into their bathing costume and then wade into the sea from beaches. They were wooden carts with four big wheels, steps and small windows. In fact, there were many different designs, ranging from Royalty to the basic bathing machines which were to be seen on the majority of beaches. Some had a small flag which could be raised by the bather as a signal to the driver that they were ready to return to shore.


Above: Bathing machines line the beach at high tide in the North Bay at Scarborough. Above the line of bathing machines can be seen Scarborough’s North Pier stretching a thousand feet into the North Sea. It opened in 1868 and in January 1905, the pier was wrecked in a severe gale. Above the pier stands Scarborough Castle on the headland which divides Scarborough into two bays, North Bay and South Bay (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)

Below: Bathing machines on the sands and edge of the sea at Scarborough’s South Bay. A fisher woman with two baskets full of sea food can be seen in the foreground and fishing boats in full sail out at sea. Photo courtesy of NYCC Unnetie Digital Archive (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)


The machines were pulled by horses to the edge of the water or even into it, if the waves and tide permitted. When the machine stopped the bathers inside emerged through a doorway from the back of the machine directly into the water hidden from the view of others. After they had had enough time in the water they could re-enter the bathing machine, dry off, change back to their street clothing and be wheeled back to the rental establishment on the beach, emerging fully dressed and avoiding the stares of the crowd.


Above: North Bay at Scarborough, looking north towards Scalby Mills. The north promenade and beach bungalows, which can just been seen on the left, were erected just before World War 1. Here a summer crowd enjoy the new facilities and the days of bathing machines are coming to an end. Photo courtesy of NYCC Unnetie Digital Archive (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)

Bathing machines were rented out by operators whose livelihood depended not only on the renting of bathing machines, but also deck chairs, bathing suits and other beachfront paraphernalia. Their target market was the newly rising middle class and better off lower class holidaymakers, who now had the time and the transportation to go to the seaside once a year. The hiring charge for a bathing machine in 1770 varied from 9d for two or more gentlemen bathing by themselves to 1/6d for a gentleman taking a machine with a guide.


Above: This old photo faces north towards Castle Hill, across a crowded beach that is full of holidaymakers and traders. Only three bathing machines can be seen. The nearest one has a raised flag indicating that the last bather had, had enough time in the water and had been returned to shore. Photo courtesy of NYCC Unnetie Digital Archive (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)

The bathing machines remained in active use on beaches until the 1890s, when they began to go out of fashion. This was due to the ever-expanding nature of the bathing costume, first for women and then for men. The machines were then scrapped or became beach huts used as stationary changing rooms for a number of years. Legal segregation of bathing areas ended in 1901, and the bathing machine declined rapidly. Most of them went out of business and disappeared by 1914, but some have survived as a reminder of those prudish days.


Above: The South Bay at Scarborough. To the north is Scarborough Castle and headland in the background. A number of bathing machines are at the water’s edge and three bathers can be seen next to one. Photo courtesy of NYCC Unnetie Digital Archive (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)

Permanent, bathing/beach huts, first appeared in about 1910, but the idea of creating a series of cells in a permanent row was pioneered in Scarborough’s North Bay in 1911. This was followed closely at South Cliff in 1911-12. Beach huts represented a fundamental transformation from the wheeled bathing machines previously used, where people changed in private and modestly lowered themselves into the sea almost unseen. Beach huts were built well above the high tide mark which reflects changing ideas about social decorum: getting changed for bathing, in a hut at the top of the beach, and walking to the sea in full view became a new, liberating activity.


Above: Brightly-painted beach huts, North Bay, Scarborough (via the Yorkshire Journal, Spring Issue, 2012)


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Spring, 2012). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Sarah for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough!

King Richard III in Scarborough: Fact or Fiction?

This is the final installment of an article originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 4, 2015) by Jeremy Clark. He has kindly contributed his work to be republished here.

For Part I of this article, please click here. For Part II click here, and Part III here.

Article Summary:

A comprehensive investigation of the history and characteristics of the house, as well as the popular belief that King Richard III stayed here during the summer of 1484.

After he was crowned in 1483, King Richard III made a northern tour. He arrived in Scarborough on May 22nd 1484, and visited again from June 30th to July 11th. The purpose of his visit was to assemble a fleet to defend against the expected invasion of Henry Tudor, later Henry VII. It is reputed that King Richard III stayed in the house named after him on the foreshore during the summer of 1484.

He might well have found this location – beside the harbour and providing easy access to his ships – more convenient than the castle.

Nevertheless, he did stay for a time at Scarborough Castle because writs, warrants and other documents were sealed by him on May 22nd and July 5th, reportedly ‘given at the castel of Scardeburgh’. He was the last monarch to reside at the castle. However, further royal orders issued after 5th July were ‘given at Scardeburgh’ (without further mention of the castle) so it is possible that Richard did stay in the fifteenth century Sandside house for a few days. There is, however, no conclusive evidence to confirm this.


Above: A facial reconstruction of the head of King Richard III with blond hair and blue eyes. DNA testing suggests that this would have been his colouring (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Although not recorded in documents, the original house is thought to have belonged to Thomas Sage (c.1430-1497), one of the town’s leading burgesses and the richest ship-owner. He was a very wealthy man who had property in the area and was well-disposed towards Richard.


Above: Aerial view of the harbour at Scarborough. King Richard III house can be seen in the blue circle. To the right is the curtain wall of the castle, which extends along the whole length of the promontory overlooking the town. At the top right is the Barbican and Gatehouse to the castle (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

King Richard the III (2 October 1452 -22 August 1485) was King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. In 1485 he granted Scarborough a new charter, making it a county rather than a borough. This was subsequently revoked after his death by Henry VII.

Richard III was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field was the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses.

After the battle Richard’s body was taken to Leicester and buried in the Church of the Grey Friars. His body was found in 2012 during an archaeological excavation and on 26th March 2015 his remains were reburied in Leicester Cathedral rather than in York Minster as many of his supporters had hoped.


Above: A plaque in remembrance of King Richard III inside Leicester Cathedral (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

When the building was taken over as a café in 1964 a few alterations were made to the interior on the ground floor. The stone fireplace was removed and replaced with a flight of stairs to a newly built kitchen at the rear. The stone-flagged floor was covered with wooden floorboards and the blocked-up doorways to the former antique shop next door were cleared to make entranceways to additional seating areas of the restaurant. The stone walls and the oak rafters which rest on a massive beam were retained in their original condition.


Above: King Richard III house as a museum in the 1950s with an antique shop next door (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Below: King Richard III House as a café in 1986 (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)


Despite these alterations the house has retained its medieval appearance from the time of King Richard III, even though there it is uncertainty regarding whether or not he actually stayed here.

Today the restaurant is smartly decorated and has a good atmosphere. Full suits of armour are suitably placed while parts of armour decorate the stone walls.

However, the second floor, known as the King’s Bedchamber, which has the elaborately decorative plasterwork ceiling with the York Rose (the Arms of Richard III), is not open to the public. The remains of the fleur-de-lis scrollwork frieze can be seen on the ground floor of the restaurant on the east wall, above the stone doorway giving access to the additional seating area. There is also seating outside in front of the building with views of the harbour.


Right: King Richard III restaurant today, with visitors setting outside (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

To see the article in its original format, and all original references, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Issue 4, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Jeremy for sharing this article!

A Viking House at the Millennium Museum: Fact or Fiction?

Like York’s famous Jorvik Centre, the Millennium Museum in Scarborough enthusiastically celebrated the town’s supposed Viking origins.


Above: A waxwork Viking making tools at the Millennium Museum (source)

Below: A similar exhibit at the Jorvik Museum (source)

The museum’s waxworks and wooden scenery included a Viking house, complete with a family of inhabitants, illustrating the alleged founding of a settlement in Scarborough by the Viking raider Skarthi.

Skarthi, otherwise known as Thorgills Ogmundarson, is said to have given the town it’s early name – Skarthaburg, from which modern-day equivalent Scarborough is derived. More recently alternative claims have indicated Anglo-Saxon origins, with the town’s name referring to ‘the hill with the fort’.

Above: The Viking connection even inspired Scarborough rides, such as the one above from 1987 (source)

Indeed, in spite of the popular belief that Scarborough was founded by Vikings – there is little firm evidence to support this claim. Certainly there seems to have been various early settlements in the area, dating back to the Bronze and Stone Ages – and a Roman signal station in the fourth century.

Above: Details of another Roman signal station in nearby Filey (source)

Although Scarborough’s pre-Middle Ages colonisation is unclear, parts of North and East Yorkshire certainly received visits from Viking raiders. As already mentioned, York has created a popular museum inspired by early Scandinavian invaders, whilst Hull had a speedway team named after them.

Above: Hull’s speedway team alluded to the city’s Viking history (source)

Likewise, Scarborough RUFC has also adopted ‘the Vikings’ as its moniker. Certainly, the idea of a Viking Scarborough is an appealing one, not least given the glamorisation of Vikings by popular culture and legend. They are often depicted as fierce, savage warriors, complete with horned helmets, long blonde locks and primitive weapons – popular inspiration for fancy dress costumes and films.

Above: Viking stereotypes in an Asterix cartoon feature film (source)

Historical sources unsurprisingly paint a more complex picture – for instance weaponry was much more sophisticated than the crude hammers and axes brandished by cartoon characters and Hollywood actors in traditional epics.

Above: The Vikings (1958 film) – plenty of fighting and basic weapons (source)

Nor did all Viking warriors have blonde hair – whilst this is thought to have been the ideal (some bleached their hair), their exploits across various regions (including establishing settlements as far away as North Africa and Russia) resulted in a diverse population. Indeed, the term Viking itself refers to one participating in a seafaring expedition, rather than denoting a specific geographical region of origin.

Above: A Viking sailing vessel at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway (source)

Given this propensity for travel, it is of course plausible that Vikings may have at one time passed through or even settled in Scarborough. It is also plausible that these claims are exaggerated – tourism websites proudly profess this Viking heritage without the backing of substantial evidence. Indeed, it is thought that the link was originally made back in the 1960s – a reference to an 1000 year old Icelandic/Viking Saga.

Above: Section from an Icelandic Saga – these prose histories described events in the tenth and eleventh centuries and earlier (source)

Regardless of who settled in Scarborough first, and when, the Millennium Museum no longer offers any argument either way. The exhibits, which also included King Edward I’s castle (complete with loo and smell machine!) were sold and the attraction closed down in 2001.

Above: The real Scarborough Castle – once owned by King Edward I, who held court there on several occasions (source)

History itself is never completely objective –  tourist organisations and businesses in particular have strong investments in popular myths and legends.  After all, these stories bring people (and their money) to places such as Scarborough. Stories From Scarborough aims to explore some of these tales – not necessarily to separate the fact from the fiction, but to demonstrate that myths, legends and misconceptions are just as much a part of history as archaeological finds and official documents.

Do you have anything to add about the origins of Scarborough? Is the Viking story a myth? Did you ever visit the Viking House in the Millennium Museum? Share your thoughts below.


English Heritage

BBC History

Yorkshire England Site

Medieval Scarborough: Studies in Trade and Civic Life

Jorvik Museum Website

The Yorkshire Post