Scarborough

Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to the one who lives there,
For once she was a true love of mine.

– An Old English folk song



Scarborough is a popular seaside town located on the East Coast of Yorkshire and surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs. It has a population of 50,000 and is the largest holiday resort in the county. Therefore it is mainly known today for tourism, although some of its older industries, such as bus-making and fishing are still present in the town.

Scarborough has a whole host of tourist attractions, first and foremost its beach, harbour and amusement arcades, which make it one of the top seaside resorts in the North. The 11th Century castle, which stands proudly on top of the cliffs, overlooking the sea, has been a tourist attraction since the mid-19th Century and is currently run by English Heritage. The site has been extensively excavated, where an ancient Medieval Hall and Bronze Age sword have been found and are on display at the castle’s museum.

Peasholm Park was opened in 1912 and lies in the north of the town. It features a boating lake, putting green and a collection of rare trees. Every summer World War Two naval battle re-enactments, based on the battle of The River Plate are held here.

The Rotunda is one of the oldest museums in Yorkshire. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd
The Rotunda is one of the oldest museums in the country. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd

 

Scarborough also hosts one of the oldest surviving museums in the country, The Rotunda, which was built in 1829 and displays over 5,000 fossils and 3,000 minerals, which have been found on Yorkshire’s “dinosaur coast,” between Redcar and Flamborough.

 

The Grand Hotel on Scarborough seafront was once the largest in the world. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd
The Grand Hotel on Scarborough seafront was once the largest in the world. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd

 

Being a top tourist destination, the hospitality industry is also important to the town’s economy. In 1867 The Grand Hotel was completed, which made it one of the largest in the world. It has four towers, one for each season and twelve floors, for each month of the year, fifty-two windows for every week and originally 365 rooms for each day.

 

Scarborough Harbour is always bustling with activity. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd
Scarborough Harbour is always bustling with activity. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd

 

In order to transport people here the York-Scarborough railway line was built in 1845 and increased the influx of tourists to the area, often workers from other parts of Yorkshire for their annual holiday. The station is also home to the longest platform seat in the world, measured at 139 metres.

The town is served by numerous road links, including the A64 to York and Leeds, the A175 to Bridlington and Hull, and the A171 northerly road to Whitby. In order to ease congestion it is served by two park and ride systems. The town is well connected by twenty-five major bus routes to other major Yorkshire towns, including the Coastliner service to Leeds. Surprisingly, given its location there are no commercial ferry services to mainland Europe, although one does operate to the port of Hull.

The town boasts the last remaining seaside orchestra, based at The Scarborough Spa Complex, which is also home to the annual Scarborough Jazz festival. Down on the West pier of Scarborough harbour, the “Seafest” is held each July, which attracts folk and shanty singers from across the world to celebrate the town’s fishing heritage. In recent years Digital Scarborough, a collaboration between businesses, education and art has been staged, including contemporary films and music. The creative industries have contributed 19% to Scarborough’s economy and in 2009 won an award for Europe’s most enterprising town.

Scarborough, with its unique landscape has been used for many films, such as Little Voice, Possession and The Damned United. TV programmes including The Royal and Heartbeat are also filmed in the area. Local indie band, One Night Only filmed their music video for their 2008 hit “Just for Tonight” around various locations in Scarborough.

The town’s nightlife has changed in the last few years with many new bars, such as The Barbican and Blue Lounge plus re-developed older venues, forming a core around St Thomas’ Street. The town offers a wide variety of independent restaurants, from traditional fish and chips to Mexican and Thai cuisine.

The pedestrianised town centre and Brunswick shopping mall offers a range of high street stores, while on Queen’s Street the flagship store of Northern chain, W. Boyes is also present.

Scarborough hosts a campus of Hull University for around 2,000 students and offers courses, such as Teacher Training and Marine Biology. Yorkshire Coast College is a higher education establishment, where GCSEs, A-Levels NVQs and apprenticeships are available in conjunction with Grimsby Institute and the University of Hull. Former alumni include newsreader, Jon Snow and chef, James Martin.

Cricket plays a big role in the town’s sporting calendar, in the shape of the Scarborough Festival at its ground on North Marine Road, featuring Yorkshire against another county side in a four-day and one-day game. The now defunct Scarborough FC, wound up in 2007, has been replaced by the newly formed Scarborough Athletic FC, which currently plays their home games at nearby Bridlington. At sea a 210 nautical mile race to Ijmuiden in The Netherlands takes place each year with Scarborough Yacht Club. Ganton golf course, located eight miles away has hosted the 1948 Ryder Cup and the 2003 Walker Cup. In July 2016 the Alpamare water park opened in the town as an added attraction for holidaymakers.

Scarborough is a very scenic town on the East Coast, offering a distinct mix of old and new. It manages to combine its history as a traditional seaside resort with being a centre for innovation, enterprise and business, creating a positive future.


The origin of Scarborough is much disputed among historians. Unofficially the town of Skarðaborg was founded in AD966 by Viking raiders, but evidence of a Roman signal station on the site of the castle and an Anglo-Saxon settlement nearby, known as Falsgrave, suggests an earlier history. It lay abandoned during Norman Times but was revived under the reign of Henry with the construction of its castle and the granting of a town charter in 1155.

The medieval ruined castle is a prominent reminder of Scarborough's history. Picture credit John Sykes (IFY community)
The medieval ruined castle is a prominent reminder of Scarborough’s history. Picture credit John Sykes (IFY community)

 

The famous Scarborough fair was granted in the mid-13th Century and held over six weeks from Mid-August to late September, attracting traders from across Europe and commemorated in the well-known Yorkshire folk song which begins:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley sage rosemary and thyme”

The town lay in ruins after the Civil War, with many important battles taking place at the castle which was controlled by both Royalists and Parliamentarians during this time. However, a chance discovery of acidic water by Elizabeth Farrow in 1626 sparked an influx of visitors to the East Coast and so the spa town and seaside resort, was born. Its popularity peaked in the Victorian era, with much of the seafront and promenade originating from this time. Moreover the coming of the railways and construction of the Grand Hotel further established Scarborough as a principle holiday destination.

Scarborough was one of the towns, along with Whitby and Hartlepool to suffer bombing from a German fleet in December 1914, with the castle and Grand Hotel being among its targets. Famously, residents crowded the roads out of the town and its railway station during the attack. The bombardment was used by government propaganda to encourage army enlistment.

German boats sailed these waters to bomb Scarborough during the 1st World War. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd
German boats sailed these waters to bomb Scarborough during the 1st World War. Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd

 

Scarborough was to make the headlines once again for different reasons in 1993, when part of the Holbeck Hall Hotel, slipped into the sea. In the present day Scarborough is not only still a popular seaside resort, also an award-winning innovative town boasting one of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe on its seafront.

 




Scarborough is the oldest seaside resort in England, with a population of over 50,000 people. Residents are known as Scarborians.

There is a local legend which tells that Scarborough was founded in 966 AD by a Viking Raider called Thorgils Skarthi. So named because of his scarred lip. Scarborough was in those days knows as Scarthi’s Borg. There is little evidence to support this notion.

In the Middle ages Scarborough was granted the right by Royal Charter to hold a six day trading festival which attracted traders and people from all over Europe. You will remember the song Scarborough Fayre .
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

A stream of acidic water was discovered in 1626 by Elizabeth Farrow. It ran from the base of a cliff in the South Bay. It was thought to have health giving properties and gave rise to Scarborough Spa which made Scarborough Britain’s first seaside resort. Bathing machines were eventually used in 1735 and in 1845 the railway linked Scarborough to York. Scarborough railway station also possess the longest seat on any railway station in the world.

The Grand Hotel Scarborough was the largest purpose built hotel in the world when it opened in 1867. It has a quite unique design based on the theme of ‘time’. It had 325 bedrooms, 52 chimneys and 12 floors. Unfortunately the upper two floors had to be demolished following damage caused by the shelling by the German High fleet in 1914. Scarborough was the first town in England to be shelled by the Germans.

Sir George Cayley was strongly associated with Scarborough. He was the man who designed the first successful heavier than air flight. His glider was piloted by his coachman, John Appleby. He was the first man to fly in a heavier than air craft. He started at one side of Brompton vale and crashed landed on the other side. He then told Cayley, ‘Sir George, I wish to give notice. I was hired to drive, not fly.’

The world’s first museum dedicated to geology, The Rotunda, was opened in Scarborough in 1829. It was dedicated to William Smith ‘The Father of Geology.’

Scarborough is also a cultural centre of great renown. The famous dramatist Alan Ayckbourn is based in the town. He has produced many plays in the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Scarborough is home to many festivals. These include Seafest, Bike Week, Scarborough Fayre, the UK Pro Surf Championships, the Scarborough Jazz Festival. Also Scarborough is the venue for the Scarborough Cricket Festival.