Walks: Step back in time with this Old Town trail

The smugglers statue with Scarborough harbour in the background.

Step back in time and take a short ‘treasure hunt’ around Scarborough’s ‘living museum’ of a bygone era. This route contains a wealth of interesting features and you’ll discover many more.

Start from Newborough’s shopping precinct, and wander down to the crossroads. Turn left up St Thomas Street. Nearing the top is the YMCA theatre and activities centre to your right; with basketball; jujitsu; fencing; youth clubs; drama and band etc.

Turn right beside the car park on Castle Road and descend Queen Street. To your right is St Mary’s Lodge, which was the old convent. Nearing the far end, Queen Street Methodist Central Hall is most impressive and has a great musical tradition appreciated by thousands.

Beyond is William Boyes popular store. Originally opened as a remnant warehouse in 1881, it became too small, so he took the larger premises in Market Street. As you turn left down Market Street, the public market hall stands before you. Often described as one of Scarborough’s finest buildings, it has recently been refurbished to a very high standard. Until its erection in 1853, weekly markets were held in various parts of Scarborough, each often associated with one commodity. St Helen’s Square, paved with stone setts, provides a grand foreground to the market.

Turning left up Cross Street (behind Boyes), walk to the crossroads. Before turning right on Longwestgate, view The Base (left) and the remarkable wall mosaic nearby. Next, take Longwestgate stretching eastwards. Set back on the left, the Merchant Seamen’s Homes were founded in 1752 and rebuilt here in 1929. Cross Tollergate to Friar’s Lodge 1-2. Gravestones are arranged along a side wall, dated from 1786-1857, from the yard of the old Baptist chapel. Across the road are red-bricked Friarage Schools with some ornate brickwork, and fish weathervane. A fine ramp, with strong iron railings leads to the school. No 61 is the Old School House. Cross the top of Springfield, and to your left take time to admire numbers 68, 72 and 74, which are good examples of 18th century houses with railed steps. At Church Stairs Street, a view left reveals St Mary’s Church with its striking clock face.

St Thomas’ School to the right is a high Victorian building of 1873. Built of red brick with blue bands and yellow terracotta, it has a tower and steep slate roof. More 18th century houses are seen at 131, 133, and 135 before meeting Castlegate. View the harbour, and pass Castle Gardens to No 11 Wesley House. Here, leave Castlegate and turn right on Princess Street leading to Princess Square. To the left of the food market, opposite Wilson’s Free House is the broken shaft of the buttercross, dating from the reign of boy king Edward VI (1547-53). Continue into St Sepulchre Street with the Friends’ Meeting House approached by a sunken path between burial plots. Built in 1801 it closed in 1894. See Palace Hill Lane (between No 33 and 31) and beyond is Trinity House (1832), a Grade II listed building which has played a significant role in the seafaring life of the town.

Heading towards the market, turn left down Globe Street into Eastborough. Cross the road to Merchant’s Row behind Leeds Fisheries, but first bear slightly left to view Scarborough’s Maritime Heritage Centre, to which I donated £50,000 three years ago, to enable its purchase, subsequent move to new premises in November 2015. You’ll agree that No 45 and 45a are a credit to the volunteers and their dedicated work to this project.

Next, enter Merchant’s Row above, with stepped patio providing views to the lighthouse and coastline, and seats for relaxation. See Smugglers’ Cottage and Duke of York which smack of smuggling. Admire Ray Lonsdale’s smugglers and barrels of brandy symbolising smuggling in this area. This sculpture, I dedicated to The Scarborough News team before the office moved from Aberdeen Walk to Eastfield.

Facing smugglers, descend steps to the left named Gilly’s Steps. These lead to Foreshore Road. Turn right along Foreshore Road passing the old St Thomas’ Hospital. Pass Jaconelli’s Ice Cream Parlour and turn right beside Coney Island.

Ascend the steep and cobbled Bland’s Cliff. Opposite Bland’s Cliff Gallery and Studio you’ll discover ascending steps. Mount these, and at the top you’ll see the old Bell Inn (now apartments). The inn used to be the Blue Bell Inn from around 1776. Later, as the Bell Inn, it was one of Scarborough’s principal coaching inns.

It was patronised by wealthy Spa visitors. Prospect Place was an interesting small enclave with a pavement of flagstones across the cobblestones and a gas lamp to complete an 18th century atmosphere. At the top of Bland’s Cliff turn left up Eastborough and you’ll recognise St Helen’s Square to your right.

Last but not least is The Golden Last hotel. You may observe above the door some deep carving of vines – magnificent!

Distance: Almost 2 miles. Allow plenty of time for viewing.

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