Local Notables and Missing Persons

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USUALLY YOU had to be dead, or preferably very dead, to have a Scarborough street named after you. ‘Fat Billy’ had to wait nearly 700 years for Albemarle Crescent and Albemarle Back Road, and yet there are still some today who cannot spell his titled name; some who think, mistakenly, that he was a duke; and a Sotheby’s auctioneer who believed that he built Scarborough castle in the reign of Henry I! (Scarborough Evening News 14/12/10).

Robert North (1702-60), the eccentric do-gooder, who lived in Queen Street when it was still called Blackfriargate, had been dead for a century before Duesbery Walk (1840) was re-named North Terrace (1871). Running from Granby Place to the top of Auborough Street, the new name recognised North’s original contribution to the foundation of the Amicable Society whose new school had opened in 1864. Duesbury Terrace (1879) was the name given to what later became 35 to 55 Oak Road in Falsgrave.

John Dean (1716-47) was another native Scarborian who had died a national hero before he had reached the age of 32. For permanent recognition in his home town he had to wait more than 100 years, first to replace the beginning of Wrea Lane and later that of Cemetery Road as well.

On the other hand, Scarborough’s chief marine engineer for 20 years between 1732 and 1752, William Vincent, has been over-rewarded. Not only was he given a street on the North Side in 1853, but more recently he has been credited by the uninformed with the whole length of the Old Pier. In fact, Vincent was responsible only for what we know as the Lighthouse Pier, though his ‘spur’ long pre-dated the lighthouse itself.

In contrast, the Barrys, who did more than any family to build Scarborough’s 19th century environment, have now only a lane off Seamer Road, after Barry’s Cottages were knocked down in the 1960s.

John Barry (1803-66) and his two sons, William (1828-98) and John junior (1831-1910) were architects, builders and brick and stone manufacturers on a big scale. In the 1850s, their factory at the top of Barry’s Lane was making up to ten million bricks a year. Among their many surviving achievements are Trinity House (1832-3), Wilson’s Mariners’ Home (1836), the Spa promenade and carriage drive (1850s), Barclay’s Bank in St Nicholas Street (1864), Balgarnie’s Congregational church on South Cliff (1865), Albemarle Baptist church (1867) and the Spa Grand Hall (1880). A number of their other churches, schools and hospitals have since been demolished.

For three and a half centuries Scarborough has been home and practising ground for the medical profession. Ever since Dr Robert Wittie’s Scarborough Spaw was first published in London in 1660, the town has been famed as a health resort where the invalid, the elderly, the self-indulgent rich and constipated were offered ‘the cure’. Some of the early physicians were no better than unqualified quacks, but later not a few were highly skilled and conscientious.

Surprisingly, therefore, Scarborough has demonstrated only meagre gratitude and appreciation for its distinguished medical men. You will search in vain among the town’s place-names for doctors Belcombe, Cockerill, Dale, Harland, Rooke, Teale or Travis, to list only a few of the town’s foremost physicians.

Edward James Harland (1831-95), the Belfast shipbuilder, has a Civic Society blue plaque on the site of his birthplace, now Marks and Spencer in Newborough; but it was his father, Dr William (1787-1866), who practised in Scarborough from there for 36 years. It was he who founded the warm water medicinal baths in Vernon Place, where Premier Lodge has gone up.

However, there is one conspicuous exception: Murray Street (1861), connecting Londesborough and Westover roads, was named after Dr Peter Murray, who lived and practised in Scarborough from 1827 until 1864. Yet it seems that Murray’s lifetime reward was as much for his civic and charitable roles as his medical reputation. In Scarborough he was one of the founders of the Philosophical Society, the Mechanics’ Institute and the Reform Association. He was also one of the doctors who set up the town’s first dispensary, a charity outpatient hospital which opened in Vernon Place in 1851. Among his many humanitarian works was the provision of annual suppers for local cabmen and their wives.

A bachelor who suffered from poor health, Murray lived first with his two aunts in Belle Vue Cottage until later he crossed ‘Westborough’ and made Belle Vue Villa his own home. In 1882 the villa was demolished to make way for the railway’s parcel office and garages, but Belle Vue Street and Parade are surviving reminders of what had once been Belle Vue Place.

If Scarborough’s elite medical profession is almost entirely unacknowledged, its political leaders have not done any better. Since the office was first introduced in 1836, of the borough’s mayors only the families of Tindall and Woodall have streets named after them. William Morgan (1829-1907) is therefore an outstanding exception to this general disregard even for the most eminent of Scarborough’s 19th century municipal notables. He was mayor for three years running, 1903-05, and soon after his death, in 1911, lower Sherwood Street was re-named Morgan Street in his honour. Yet Morgan’s fame (and wealth) derived mainly from his majority sharehold in the Aquarium, which from 1886 he turned into a highly profitable place of popular entertainment.

Graham Crescent off Stepney Grove dates from 1970 and Graham Close in Paradise from 1991, but long before this belated recognition Christopher Colborne Graham (1857-1943) had been mayor for a record number of six years from 1913 to 1919 and had achieved immortality by giving Paradise House to Scarborough’s Sea Training School after the Great War. Though the school was closed in 1973, its name was adopted for the new 11 to 16 comprehensive which replaced the Boys’ High School in Woodlands Drive.

Since 1970 there have been a Pindar Road as well as a Pindar School on the Eastfield estate. They were named after George Kyte Grice Pindar, who before he died in 1959 had been four times mayor, alderman, leading town and county councillor, freeman of the borough and one of the locality’s principal employers in his printing works. Though not politically engaged, his son and grandson have continued and enhanced the family’s commercial success and commitment to Scarborough’s future.