Chance to take a peek behind closed doors

Victorian Heritage Day at Dean Road Cemetery Professor Okko and Assistant Carl Pedley reveal the casket of a Mermaid to onlookers.Picture Richard Ponter 123654a
Victorian Heritage Day at Dean Road Cemetery Professor Okko and Assistant Carl Pedley reveal the casket of a Mermaid to onlookers.Picture Richard Ponter 123654a
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Members of the public got a glimpse behind closed doors with Scarborough’s rich history showcased during the annual Heritage Open Days.

And this year’s event coincided with today’s official opening of Dean Road Cemetery’s restored mortuary chapel.

Victorian Heritage Day at Dean Road Cemetery Nadia Cudworth works on an artefact watched by fellow Victorians,.Picture Richard Ponter 123654b

Victorian Heritage Day at Dean Road Cemetery Nadia Cudworth works on an artefact watched by fellow Victorians,.Picture Richard Ponter 123654b

Jan Cleary, the chairman of the Friends of Dean Road and Manor Road Cemetery group, said the scheme had been Lottery funded and volunteers had put in a lot of effort to put the project together.

“We thought it was fitting to combine the celebration of the completion of the mortuary chapel with the Heritage Open Day,” she said.

“It’s excellent that people have got the opportunity to look inside the big chapel.”

The restored chapel was officially opened by Cllr Andrew Backhouse, Scarborough’s deputy mayor, who said: “This has been four years in the making and this project has taken two years. There was concern about the state of the buildings.”

He added that funding had totalled £50,000. “When you look after people, the people look after you. This is a good example of that.”

Throughout the day Professor Okko – a Victorian showman also known as David Oxley from Blackpool – displayed the Marcus Island Mermaid and other curiosities to spellbound crowds.

He said that the response from people had been brilliant. “I think the whole thing about this is people really get into the swing of it – they play the gullible victims,” he added.

“These things were on show right up into the 1950s – it’s taking people back to that time of wonderment.”

Other events include guided walks, behind-the-scenes tours and free admission to museums and galleries.

Heritage Open Days are held on a national level every September and aim to increase public awareness of each town’s architectural, built, historical and cultural heritage.

Buildings across the country that are either not usually open to the public or that usually charge admission will be open for free.

New to the programme this year was Scarborough Cricket Club with the Pavilion open for people to browse around and see the many old photographs, from the 20th and 19th centuries illustrating cricket and social life in Scarborough. Other venues taking part included St Andrew’s Church in Ramshill, the Rotunda, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough Art Gallery and the North Bay Railway, among many others.