Musician and golf champ honoured with blue plaques

Max Jaffa plaque unveiling  at  Argyll Lodge Scalby. Daughter Lisa Gershon,Wife Jean Jaffa ,and Naomi Jaffa, celebrating the event with guests and friends. pic Richard Ponter 151916c
Max Jaffa plaque unveiling at Argyll Lodge Scalby. Daughter Lisa Gershon,Wife Jean Jaffa ,and Naomi Jaffa, celebrating the event with guests and friends. pic Richard Ponter 151916c

Blue plaques have been unveiled to celebrate the achievements of two of Scarborough’s notable sons.

The first, in honour of champion golfer Harry Vardon, was unveiled on Saturday at Apple Tree Cottage in Main Street, Ganton.

The second, at Argyll Lodge, High Street, Scalby, has been dedicated to musician Max Jaffa.

Adrian Perry, chairman of Scarborough Civic Society, said: “The ceremonies were both wonderful.

“Ganton Golf Club did a wonderful job of organising Saturday’s event and lots of people gathered from the village.

“On Wednesday the most exciting thing was that Max Jaffa’s family were there.

A blue plaque is unveiled on the house where professional golfer Harry Vardon lived in Ganton. // (front l-r) Roger Middleton Ganton Golf Club Captain, Paulo Dunwell Assistant Secretary, (back l-r) Norman Scott home owner, Marion Tate Lady Captain and Richard Penley-Martin Club Secretary. Saturday 9th May 2015. HARRY ATKINSON

A blue plaque is unveiled on the house where professional golfer Harry Vardon lived in Ganton. // (front l-r) Roger Middleton Ganton Golf Club Captain, Paulo Dunwell Assistant Secretary, (back l-r) Norman Scott home owner, Marion Tate Lady Captain and Richard Penley-Martin Club Secretary. Saturday 9th May 2015. HARRY ATKINSON

“His wife Jean was a great soprano and it’s also nice that we got to meet the next generation in his daughters.

“From the Civic Society’s point of view, it’s great that we’ve now got a musician and a sportsman with blue plaques, as we didn’t have either of those before.”

There are now 18 blue plaques in Scarborough honouring notable people and a series of Heritage Trail plaques which denote important buildings.

Harry Vardon

Mr Vardon lived at Apple Tree Cottage from 1895 to 1902 while he was the professional and greenkeeper at Ganton Golf Club.

He became the golf professional at Ganton in 1896. He had first entered the Open championship in 1893 and gave warning of ability by finishing sixth the following year.

It was in 1896 that Mr Vardon broke through to the highest level. He began by comfortably winning the Open championship in 1894 and 1895.

He was to win the Open five more times - at Prestwick in 1898, 1903 and 1914 and at Sandwich in 1899 and 1911. In 1900 he won the US Open championship.

In his prime Mr Vardon was a great sporting figure, akin in stature to the cricketer W. G. Grace.

He was both a beneficiary of and a stimulus to the first great era of the growth of golf in England and the United States.

Golf was Mr Vardon’s life. Like many champions he had a prodigious determination. Yet to his peers there was little that was selfish or distant about him.

Taylor, his rival, noted that he was: “Kindly and considerate and without harshness. He looked upon the world with tolerance and understanding.”

The Times obituary was unstinting in its praise of the golfer. It stated: “He did what only a very great player can do; he raised the general conception of what was possible in his game and forced his nearest rivals to attain a higher standard by attempting that which they would otherwise have deemed impossible.”

Max Jaffa

Max Jaffa’s first brush with music was when his father gave him a half-size violin on his sixth birthday, hoping the boy would later make money from the instrument.

He played at Lyons tea houses and as an accompanist to silent films in cinemas, and formed a trio which played in hotels.

Later he led the orchestras at the Trocadero and Picadilly hotels, playing the light classics which were to become his stock-in-trade.

In June 1959 he married the singer Jean Grayston and the couple had three daughters.

For 27 years Mr Jaffa entertained holidaymakers at Scarborough Spa during a seventeen-week summer season of concerts given by his fifteen-piece orchestra.

He received the freedom of the borough in 1986 and continued making broadcasts on BBC Radio 2 while leading the Palm Court Orchestra at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.

He also toured Britain with a programme titled “Max Jaffa - sixty years of music”.

His wife Jean said at the blue plaque ceremony: “It is extraordinary to be back here outside our much loved Argyll Lodge.

“I only wish that Max was standing beside me. I am so glad that two of our three daughters are with me today – Naomi and Lisa.

“But I must emphasise that if it wasn’t for our third daughter – Jenny, who lives in Los Angeles, none of this would be happening.

“Last summer, when she was in the UK with her family, she paid a nostalgic visit to Scalby – and knocked on the front door of Argyll Lodge, she was overwhelmed – as we all have been by the instant hospitality and friendship of Alan and Chris – whose idea it was somehow to celebrate the fact that Max Jaffa had lived in the house for so many years.”

She added: “The installation of this blue plaque means so much to all of us particularly, Jenny in LA – the instigator of this event.

“Our deepest thanks to everyone who has helped make this very special occasion possible.”