A Scarborough landmark: the creation of Marine Drive

Officials at the ceremony of laying the last block on Scarborough's new Marine Drive.
Officials at the ceremony of laying the last block on Scarborough's new Marine Drive.

Local history enthusiast Charles Braithwaite has shared these fascinating images showing the construction of Marine Drive.

With work currently under way on the Drive, as part of a Yorkshire Water project, the large cranes are something of a reminder of when the construction first came into existence.

Work began in 1897 and was planned to take three years but, owing to periods of exceptionally strong waves and operational problems, it was not completed until 1904.

Two of these cards depict the starting and closing ceremonies - the laying of the first and the last block.

Mr Braithwaite said: “Remarkably, although these two events occurred seven years apart, both cards were printed and published locally, apparently in the same year of 1904.

“Also, it is interesting to note that they were sent by the same person in Scarborough to the same addressee in Newcastle within a space of a fortnight.”

Although the Drive was completed in 1904, damage caused by further wave and tidal problems delayed the official opening until 1908.

Mr Braithwaite added: “In the initial stages there were, as is so often the case with projects where finance is a major consideration, many opponents to the scheme, some of whom considered that a tunnel would be the best way to connect the South Bay with the North Side.

“Also, according to a poem published on a picture postcard, the author felt that the money being spent on the project would have been of greater benefit dealing with the ‘dull streets of the local slums’ and ‘ill-fed bairns’!”

Mr Braithwaite says he is fascinated by the picture of the group of workmen gathered around a suspended sheet of concrete or stone.

He said: “I can only guess as to what is taking place; possibly the creation of some form of sea defence to protect a more critical stage of this project.

“For over 100 years the massive waves that have battered the Drive have been recorded on countless picture postcards, but the one enclosed is the only one I’ve seen that features the risk to construction equipment as opposed to wave-dodgers.

“Another interesting feature are the gas-lamps on the seaward side of the road; a precarious task for the lamplighter of the day. I wonder how long these lamps survived?”