Picture credit: Jonathan Rudd

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine”

Scarborough is a popular seaside town. Located on the East Coast of Yorkshire, it’s surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs.

According to the 2011 Census, the Yorkshire town has a population of 50,000. This makes it the largest holiday resort in the county.

Today it’s mainly known for its tourism. Although some of its older industries such as bus making and fishing are still present in the town.

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Places to Visit in Scarborough

Scarborough has a whole host of tourist attractions. Its most popular ones are the beach, harbour, and amusement arcades.

Another must visit tourist attraction is Scarborough Castle. Built in the 11th Century, the castle stands proudly on top of the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Scarborough Castle has been a tourist attraction since the mid 19th Century. Currently it’s run by English Heritage.

The site has been extensively excavated over the years. An ancient Mediaeval Hall along with a Bronze Age sword have been found and are on display at the castle’s museum.


In 1912, Peasholm Park opened and lies in the north of the town. This is an extremely popular attraction where people travel across the country to visit.

It features a boating lake, putting green, and collection of rare trees. Every summer, there are World War II battle reenactments based on the battle of The River Plate.

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

In July 2016, the Alpamare water park opened in Scarborough. This created another attraction for holidaymakers.

The Rotunda in Scarborough

Scarborough is home to one of the oldest surviving museums in the country. This is The Rotunda which was built in 1829.

It displays over 5,000 fossils and 3,000 minerals. Each of these have been found on Yorkshire’s “dinosaur coast” between Redcar and Flamborough.

The Grand Hotel in Scarborough

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

Being a top tourist destination, the hospitality industry is important to the town’s economy. The most known accommodation is The Grand Hotel.

This hotel was built and completed in 1867. It has four towers, one for each season, twelve floors, for each month of the year, fifty two windows, for every week, and originally 365 rooms, for each day.

Travelling In & Out of Scarborough

To transport people to the town, the York to Scarborough line was built in 1845. This created an influx of tourists and often workers from other parts of Yorkshire for their annual holiday.

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

Scarborough railway station is home to the longest platform seat in the world. It’s measured at 139 metres long.

The town is served by numerous road links. These include the A64 to York and Leeds, the A175 to Bridlington and Hull, and the A171 northerly road to Whitby.

Congestion was becoming a big problem in Scarborough. As a result, two park and ride systems were created to cut down on the traffic.

Scarborough is well connected to other Yorkshire towns by 25 bus routes. This includes the Coastliner service to Leeds.

Given the seaside town’s location, there are no commercial ferry services to mainland Europe. There is however one service which operates to the port of Hull.

Festivals in Scarborough

The town boasts the last remaining seaside orchestra based at The Scarborough Spa Complex. This is also home to the annual Scarborough Jazz Festival.

Each July, the Seafest is held on the West Pier of Scarborough harbour. It attracts folk and shanty singers from across the world to celebrate the town’s fishing heritage.

Film and Television in Scarborough

Scarborough has a unique landscape. So much so that it’s been used for many films such as Little Voice, Possession, and The Damned United.

TV programmes have also filmed in the area. These include The Royal and Heartbeat.

Music & Nightlife in Scarborough

Local indie band One Night Only also recorded their music video around various locations in Scarborough. They used the town in their 2008 hit “Just for Tonight”.

The town’s nightlife has changed in the last few years. New bars have popped up such as The Barbican and Blue Lounge and older venues redeveloped to form a core around St Thomas’ Street.

Scarborough also offers a wide variety of independent restaurants. These range from traditional fish and chips, to Mexican and Thai cuisine.

Shopping in Scarborough

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

Education in Scarborough

Scarborough is home to a campus of Hull University. It has 2,000 students and offers courses such as Teacher Training and Marine Biology.

Yorkshire Coast College is a high education establishment. GCSE’s, A-Levels, NVQs, and apprenticeships are available in conjunction with Grimsby Institute and the University of Hull.

There are famous alumni who learnt at these institutions. These include newsreader Jon Snow, and chef James Martin.

Sport in Scarborough

Cricket plays a big role in the town. Scarborough Cricket Festival is located on North Marine Road which features Yorkshire against another county in a four day and one day game.

Scarborough Cricket Club was founded in 1849 and originally called The Queens Club. A meeting was held in The Queens Hotel which resulted in the cricket team.

The town’s original football team was called Scarborough FC. This however was wound up in 2007 due to being in £2.5 million of debt.

Five days later, the football team was replaced with Scarborough Athletic FC on the 25th of June 2007. They currently play their home games at Flamingo Land Stadium.

At sea, a 210 nautical mile race takes place each year with Scarborough Yacht Club. It starts at Scarborough and ends at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.

Ganton Golf Course is located eight miles outside of the town. It hosted the 1948 Ryder Cup and the 2003 Walker Cup.

Scarborough is a scenic town on the East Coast. It offers a distinct mix of old and new.

The town has managed to combine its history as a traditional seaside resort along with its innovation. Scarborough is a much loved coastal town that continues to be a favourite.

History of Scarborough

The origin of Scarborough is disputed among historians. Originally the town was called Skarðaborg.

It was founded in AD966 by Viking raiders. However evidence has been found of a Roman signal station at the castle.

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

There is also evidence of an Anglo-Saxon settlement nearby. This is known as Falsgrave and suggests an earlier history.

During the Norman times, the area was abandoned. However, under the reign of Henry and the construction of its castle, it was granted a town charter in 1155.

The famous Scarborough fair was granted in the mid 13th Century. It was held over six weeks from mid August to late September.

Traders from across Europe travelled to Scarborough specifically for the fair. This has been commemorated in the well known Yorkshire folk song which begins:

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine”

After the Civil War, the town lay in ruins. Many important battles took place at the castle which was controlled by both Royalists and Parliamentarians during this time.

In 1629, Elizabeth Farrow made a chance discovery. She came across acidic water.

This sparked an influx of visitors to the East Coast. As a result, Scarborough became both a seaside resort and a spa town.

The coastal town’s popularity peaked during the Victorian era. Much of the seafront and promenade were constructed and originate from this time.

Railways were starting to pop up over Yorkshire and the Grand Hotel was built. This further pushed Scarborough as a principal holiday destination.

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, along with Whitby and Hartlepool, suffered bombing from a German fleet in December 1914. Both the castle and the Grand Hotel were 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.

In 1993, Scarborough made the headlines once again. Part of the Holbeck Hall Hotel slipped into the sea.

In the present day, Scarborough is still a popular seaside resort. It’s also now an award winning innovative town boasting one of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe on the seafront.

Scarborough Trivia

Scarborough is the oldest seaside resort in England.

It has a population of around 50,000 people.

Residents are known as Scarborians.

Local legend says Scarborough was founded in 966 AD by Viking Raider Thorgils Skarthi, named after his scarred lip. At the time, the town was known as Scarthi’s Borg.

Scarborough was granted the right by the Royal Charter in the Middle Ages to hold a six day trading festival which attracted traders and people from all over Europe. You will remember the song Scarborough Fayre.

In the Middle ages, the Royal Charter granted Scarborough to hold a six day trading festival.

Scarborough has its own famous song inspired by the trading festival.

Acidic water found by Elizabeth Farrow in 1626 ran from the base of a cliff in the South Bay. People believed it had healing properties.

In 1845, bathing machines were used and the railway linked Scarborough to York.

Scarborough Railway Station is home to the longest seat in any train station in the world.

The Grand Hotel, built in 1867, is designed based on the theme “Time” within a year. 325 bedrooms represent days, 52 chimneys represent weeks, and 12 floors represent months.

Two upper floors of the Grand Hotel were demolished following damage caused by the German High fleet shelling in 1914.

Scarborough was the first town in England to be shelled by the Germans.

Sir George Cayley, inventor of the first successful heavier than air flight, was born in Scarborough.

John Appleby, the first to pilot this aircraft which started at Brompton Vale, crash landed on the other side. He reportedly said, “Sir George, I wish to give notice. I was hired to drive, not fly”.

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

Famous dramatist Alan Ayckbourn is based in Scarborough. He has produced many plays in the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Scarborough has many festivals such Seafest, Bike Week, Scarborough Fayre, the UK Pro Surf Championships, and Scarborough Jazz Festival.