Scarborough's historic Quay Street is subject of exhibition at Maritime and Heritage Centre

Scarborough Maritime and Heritage Centre’s latest exhibition covers one of Scarborough’s oldest and least visited areas, Quay Street.

By Sue Wilkinson
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 9:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 9:15 am
Scarborough Maritime and Heritage Centre’s latest exhibition covers one of Scarborough’s oldest and least visited  streets, Quay Street.
Scarborough Maritime and Heritage Centre’s latest exhibition covers one of Scarborough’s oldest and least visited streets, Quay Street.

It has been said that Quay Street may have originated in Viking times, however, as yet there has been no positive proof to substantiate these claims.

It is however more likely that it first started to develop as a street in the 1200s.

In 1252 Henry III granted the town the right to levy boats using the harbour, the money raised to be used to build a new ‘port’ with timber and stone.

This would have been a pier on the area now known more commonly as the middle, or Vincent's pier, built out from the foot of the castle headland.

To gain access to the pier the harbour wall had to be extended along to the castle headland from roughly the foot of East Sandgate.

To create this access a quay was built along the line of present-day Quay Street.

It is thought that the rise and fall in the Lanes now joining Quay Street and Sandside (Parkins Lane, Porritt’s Lane etc) are the line of the original Quay. Later more land was reclaimed in front of Quay Street, to allow for further development into the harbour area.

In Victorian times the area was the haunt of the artists of the day but slum clearance in the 1930s through to the 1960s saw the demolition of the small, much overcrowded properties, along with the former gas works (later an ice factory), leaving much-undeveloped area.

However, Quay Street still has a charm and attraction about it, even though it has been greatly changed.

Over the years it has been the home of Master Mariners and wealthy people of the town, but for most of its history it has been the home of fishing families at the other end of the income spectrum, who lived in their houses along with their fishing nets.

It has also been the home of light industry and boat builders.

Today there still remains a few homes and a few wonderful medieval buildings that are missed by most visitors to the town.Censuses and directories, from 1824 to 1975 are on display in the exhibition and they show the rise and fall of the many Yards and Steps off Quay Street while mentioning many of the old fishing family names.