There's a reason why Scarborough is essentially Britain's first seaside resort. A 1736 engraving by John Setterington depicts people bathing using bathing machines in the town, and records show that bathing machines were first used in Scarborough in 1735, the very first recorded town to see the bathing machine in use! Scarborough's growth as seaside pleasure haven grew from there, boosted too by the discovery of Scarborough Spaw waters with their healing properties - Scarborough became one of Britain's celebrated spa towns and Scarborough's historic spa buildings are currently seeing exciting regeneration. The town's striking Victorian architecture, particularly the esplanade, Grand Hotel and spa buildings all along the seafront, hint at its popularity as Victorian seaside spa mecca. The spectacular Grand Hotel, New Spa Grand Hall and Peasholm Park all date from the Victorian and Edwardian period. Scarborough's sublime Victorian architecture coupled with its two beautiful beach bays - South Bay with its more seaside entertainment feel and quieter North Bay with its blue flag beach status give Scarborough a special edge.
Scarborough boasts a fine selection of attractions including acclaimed museums and art galleries, a historic mini railway and a spectacular headland castle, beach bays and watersports especially great surfing opportunities, two fine golf courses, numerous boat trips, ghost walks and guided walks and bus tours, a selection of seaside attractions right on the beach including funfair rides, mini golf and amusements and a superb choice of theatres including the stunning Art Deco Stephen Joseph theatre - the home of Alan Ayckbourn who is artistic director here. Once visited you'll find yourself returning again and again to Scarborough - one of Britain's finest seaside treasures. New exciting regeneration projects for many of Scarborough's most historic buildings including the Spa Buildings and the Rotunda Museum alongside new attractions planned for North Bay are set to ensure the town's continuing success as seaside holiday hotspot.
Scarborough's distinctive headland straddled by South Bay and North Bay (see Discover Yorkshire Coast - Scarborough Map) is the magnificent site of Scarborough castle. A natural site for defence and settlement, with sheer drops either side of the headland down to the sea, before the castle evidence of Bronze Age settlement has been found here as well as the site being put to good use by the Romans who built a signal station here. Scarborough Castle's keep dates from the 12th century.
In the Civil War the castle endured two major sieges and from the 1650s it was put to use as a prison and barracks. It saw further fortifications in the mid 1700s to ward against Jacobite attack however Scarborough harbour was penetrated when it came under attack by American John Paul Jones in 1779. For spectacular views over Scarborough's two bays - climbing up to the castle high on the headland is a highlight of any visit to Scarborough. Parking for visitors with disabilities is available in the castle grounds. Checkout the English Heritage webguide right for access details and opening times. Scarborough Castle, Castle Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 1HY. Tel. 01723 372451.
Exciting renovations are afoot for Scarborough museums, particularly the stunning Rotunda Geology Museum which dates from 1828. The designated 'Father of English Geology' - William Smith actually came up with the design idea for the Rotunda which is reopened in 2008. Geology has long played a part in Scarborough's history and can be credited with much of Scarborough's success as attractive seaside resort - take the magnesium sulphate in the spa spring waters or the very formation of Scarborough's headland and sheltered two bays with protected harbour in south bay for example. The famous Gristhorpe Man discovered at Gristhorpe near Scarborough in 1834 will be on display in the Rotunda after seeing a period of extensive research at Bradford University. Carbon dating on the coffin done in the 1980s dated Gristhorpe Man at somewhere between 1600 and 1400BC. (read more via the Rotunda's webguide right). The North and East Yorkshire coasts are one of the foremost Jurassic and Cretaceous geological coasts not just in the UK but worldwide. This coastline has thrown up numerous fossils and minerals over the years and the Scarborough Museums and Gallery Trust has an enormous collection. Many of the collection's pieces will be on display in the spectacular Rotunda. Read more on the collection and the Jurassic and Cretaceous North and East Yorkshire coasts via the Rotunda's webguide.
The Rotunda Museum, Vernon Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. YO11 2NN. Tel. 01723 374839.
The very building housing Scarborough Art Gallery is just one of the town's Victorian architectural gems. The gallery sits within an Italianate villa on The Crescent which dates from the 1840s.
Move inside to see art work by Atkinson Grimshaw, Frank Mason and Ernest Dade among others. John Grimshaw (1836-1893) spent many of his holidays in Scarborough and Whitby and his art displayed at the gallery focuses on the two Scarborough bays with evocative ships on fire or nocturnal and twilight views of the bays. The Resource Room contains numerous art books, art materials and sheets orientated towards children and the gallery plays host to changing temporary exhibitions. A gift shop is also on-site.
The South Bay area of Scarborough is particularly rich in Victorian architecture. Here along the spectacular Scarborough esplanade sits the famous Spa Complex of theatres dating from the 1880s. Around the town particular architectural highlights include the Rotunda Museum on Vernon Street dating from 1828, the spectacular Grand Hotel built in 1867, the historic Spa cliff lift up from South Bay which first opened in 1875 (still working today, the Spa Cliff Lift in Scarborough was the very first funicular railway to open in the country. Two other cliff lifts- St Nicholas and Central Tramway are also along South Bay) and the more modern Stephen Joseph Theatre, the town's one time Odeon Cinema dating from the 1930s. Scarborough's lighthouse in the harbour area dates from 1931 whilst Peasholm Park dates from the pre-First World War Edwardian period.
Scarborough Art Gallery, The Crescent, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. YO11 2PW. Tel. 01723 374753. Cliff Lift - Central Tramway, 1 Marine Parade, St Nicholas Cliff, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 2ES. Tel. 01723 501754. Cliff Lift - Spa Esplanade, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 2AW. Tel Tourist Info at 01723 383636. Cliff Lift - St. Nicholas, St. Nicholas Cliff, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 2ET. Tel. 01723 381344. All are open 7 days a week in season. For up to date opening times and prices for the Scarborough Cliff Lifts check the Discover Yorkshire Coast webguide right/Scarborough Attractions Listings.
One of Scarborough's most famous fans was Anne Bronte, and it was here in Anne's beloved Scarborough that she died in 1849 at the age of just 29 years. It had been her intention to open her own school in the town. This didn't materialise, but Anne Bronte made reference to her favoured spot Scarborough in the novels Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Anne was buried in Scarborough and you can visit her grave at St Mary's Churchyard near Scarborough Castle.
Anne Bronte's Grave at St Mary's Churchyard Scarborough, Castle Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1HY. For more information visit Scarborough's Tourist Information Centre on the Harbourside or at Brunswick Shopping Centre.
Scarborough Harbourside Tourist Information Centre, Sandside, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1PP. Tel. 01723 383636.
Scarborough Tourist Information, Brunswick Shopping Centre, Westborough, Scarborough YO11 1UE. Tel. 01723 383636.