Local Celebrities

editorial image

IN THE past almost every yard, close and lane in the older parts of Scarborough was named after former owners or tenants. For instance, on the 1892 Ordnance Survey map, within one small area of Tuthill and Quay Street, there were yards belonging to Wyrill, Watson, Clark, Varey and Althorp. And all of these confined spaces were inhabited, as were the steps leading up and down the steep slopes of the old town.

Now all of them have long since gone, wiped out in the demolitions that occurred in the several destructive surges of the 20th century.

Even in areas beyond the bounds of Newborough, there have been many other casualties of modernisation. Fronting what became Westborough, but was still called Without the Bar until the 1870s, Wilberforce Place (1837) was a terrace of houses standing between the northern end of Brunswick Terrace and Vernon Place. In other words, these were some of the properties demolished to make way eventually for Woolworth’s store. So a native Yorkshireman, credited with the leadership to abolish the slave trade, was replaced by an American retailer, who in turn has become Poundland.

William Wilberforce was a friend of Scarborough’s most admired benefactor, historian and Town Hall veteran, Thomas Hinderwell. Soon after Hinderwell’s death in 1825, ten new houses were built on the north side of Falsgrave Walk, just beyond its junction with the Common Lane yet to be called Victoria Road and opposite the entrance to Stoney Causeway (Londesborough Road). The terrace was called Hinderwell Place (1832) and no 3 in it Hinderwell Villa, which today survives as 21 Falsgrave Road. Hinderwell Villa was at one time headquarters of the British Legion and since 1929 has been used by a succession of dentists. Nos 1 and 2 Hinderwell Place were bought by the Scarborough and Whitby Railway Company when it was digging out a tunnel under Falsgrave Road and pulled down about 1894.

A drinking fountain was built in 1860 “to the memory of Thomas Hinderwell, the historian of Scarborough”, at the top of Castle Road, but demolished as a highway obstruction after 1945. And the sandstone inscription on the adjacent outside wall of the Towers explaining who Hinderwell was is now illegible. So all that we have left of Hinderwell, apart from his histories of Scarborough published in 1798 and 1811, are Hinderwell Road (1923) and the primary school named after him, opened in 1932 to serve the council’s first housing estate. Only as recently as November 17 2010, Scarborough’s Civic Society unveiled one of its blue plaques in the Sunken Gardens to mark Hinderwell’s birthplace, 266 years earlier.

During the 1830s, the gap between Greengate (North Marine Road) and Peasholm Lane (New Queen Street, Queen’s Terrace) was partly filled with facing terraces of new houses running off Albert Street. They were called Vincent Street (1853), after William Vincent, who had been Scarborough’s chief marine engineer from 1732 until 1752. During these years he had been employed by the Corporation to extend the Old Pier southwards by a spur and later to cut a gulley or Pet Hole between them.

Secondly, after the spa wells had been swamped by high tides and then buried under a land slip, Vincent enclosed two new springs with a strong stone wall so that they were no longer at the mercy of the sea. Behind the new spa buildings, Vincent also removed overhanging rocks and unstable clay to save them from further cliff falls.

Vincent’s pier spur was virtually washed away by a great storm in 1800 and the lighthouse of 1804-6 was built there on a heavily repaired structure. Nevertheless, Vincent was given credit by some not only for the lighthouse pier but even for the whole length of the Old Pier. As a result, Vincent was awarded responsibility for work he did not do, whereas the engineers who actually designed and re-built the Old Pier and the great East Pier, William Lellam, John Smeaton and William Chapman, are still waiting for recognition. Vincent’s Pet Hole is now spanned by Captain Sydney Smith’s Millennium Bridge.

One of the four villas built on the south side of the Crescent Gardens in 1837 was Warwick House. Made of the finest ashlar sandstone and cleverly designed to make the utmost of its position above Ramsdale with an outlook to South Bay, a dozen years later, it was bought by one of the county’s richest landowners, Albert Denison. It was to be his marine residence.

From his uncle, Albert had inherited a colossal fortune in capital, shares and land, the last including the villages of Willerby, Staxton, Flixton, Osgodby, Seamer, Irton and East Ayton. To these, in 1849, he added the Londesborough estate, between Pocklington and Market Weighton, in the East Riding. The following year, he chose the title Baron Albert of Londesborough and his house in Scarborough he re-named Londesborough Lodge.

Londesborough Lodge is now Council-owned, up for sale, empty, abandoned and in a state of neglect and growing decay. The Londesborough theatre in Westborough was opened in 1871 and named after the baron’s heir and successor from 1860, William Henry Forester Denison, who was elevated to an earldom in 1887. To survive, the theatre had to be converted into a cinema in 1914, but finally closed in 1959. The next year it was demolished and replaced by faceless shops and offices. So in Scarborough, only Londesborough Road seems to have a secure future.

Formerly Stoney Causeway and as old as the Roman route to the headland, Londesborough Road (1892) was frequently used by the Denisons to travel the last miles from Seamer railway station to Londesborough Lodge, the direct road by-passing Falsgrave. When, for instance, in 1863, the second Lord Londesborough brought his bride to Scarborough, their carriage passed that way and so did that of the Prince of Wales in 1869, 1870 and 1871. Almost in a literal sense, it was Londesborough’s road and as early as 1867 the first row of houses on the east side of Stoney Causeway between Murray Street and the junction with Folly Lane (Westover Road) was called Londesborough Terrace.

Otherwise, Denison and Londesborough are now known to many only as the names of public houses in East Ayton and Seamer, a masonic lodge and a scout group. Perhaps even fewer are aware that Lady Edith’s Drive (1939) is named after the daughter of the duke of Beaufort, the first earl of Londesborough’s wife, Lady Mildred’s Ride along Row Brow, after their daughter, and Lady Grace’s Ride after their daughter-in-law. Finally, Seamer Beacon, that once-conspicuous hill on Scarborough’s western horizon, is still known to some as Baron Albert’s Tower.