Museum hope: Missing out on our own history and heritage

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I chose to live in Scarborough because it was a wonderful town with a fantastic Victorian seaside heritage. With the proposed development of the Futurist site into a roller coaster ride it now appears to be modelling itself on Blackpool!

The late Scarborough historian, John Rushton MBE, said that our town has so much heritage worth saving that it should be listed as a world heritage site. Are we now going to blot out this opportunity by copying Blackpool instead?

The borough’s own Tourism Strategy document for 2011-2014 states: ‘We will make a clear commitment to promoting the expansion of tourism whilst safeguarding and enhancing our natural environment and built heritage’. One of the most popular words chosen to describe the area is ‘traditional’...’From a strategic point of view it seems advisable to concentrate on less represented market segments, particularly short break visitors coming in the off season in higher spending segments’. Priorities and objectives include ‘developing a year round tourism product’.

I fail to see how a roller coaster ride meets any of these criteria? The Maritime Heritage Centre, Museums Trust, Historical Society and Civic Society recently sent a letter to Jim Dillon and Tom Fox pleading for any development of the Futurist site to include a heritage aspect. No reply has been received.

Hundreds of local people involved in these societies are doing their utmost to save the town’s history for current and future generations. The vision of a ‘Museum of Scarborough’ has been suggested for quite a few years but seems to be unsupported by those in the council who should have the responsibility to protect our town’s heritage.

As we all know, and are very proud of, Scarborough is Britain’s first seaside resort and grew from a small port to the fifth largest herring port in the country. We built over 400 ships here that sailed the world and even took convicts to Australia.

A year-long study, by the University of Hull Business Studies Department, concluded that it is feasible to establish and run an economically viable high quality visitor destination that would display and preserve the town’s heritage.

Sunderland, Hartlepool, Grimsby and Yarmouth are just a few towns along the east coast that have fantastic museums based on their connections with the sea. The National Maritime Museum, Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow and even the Shetlands have hugely successful maritime museums that are visited by tens of thousands of visitors every year.

I was in Keswick last weekend and they have just opened a new museum, art gallery and cafe that is something the town can be proud of. They have a population of 5,000 and hardly any schools, we have 50,000 and many schools.

Why should Scarborough’s school children and tourists lose out on our history for a roller coaster ride?

Mark Vesey

Chairman of the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre

Eastborough