Explore historic landmarks

North Bay heritage trail starting point - the Toll House at the southern end of Marine Drive
North Bay heritage trail starting point - the Toll House at the southern end of Marine Drive

I suggest you allow about two hours’ walking time to view the various features of interest along this route. The starting point is the old South Toll House beyond the roundabout at the end of Sandside.

1 Marine Drive. During Victorian times Scarborough’s popularity increased. From 1845 the railway provided easy access to the town. The idea of a roadway linking the North and South Bays via the castle headland was first aired in 1860. In 1882 Sir John Coode was invited to do a feasibility study. He estimated it would be practicable and would cost £124,680. When the Marine Drive was opened over 25 years later, the total bill was just £20 more than first estimated. The foundation stone was laid on June 25, 1897. The two ends of the seawall were united in September, 1904. Despite severe gales etc the Marine Drive was completed by April 15, 1908.

It was then possible to walk or drive along the seafront from the Spa to Peasholm. For Scarborians, there was just one sore point, as tolls were levied at either end of the new promenade, for pedestrians and vehicles. The South Toll House you see still stands. Tolls were finally dropped in 1950. The Marine Drive is most popular.

Follow the seawall around the foot of the castle headland. When you see a quantity of large rocks on the hillside to your left, (near the skateboard park), Hairy Bob’s Cave (2) is distinguishable by the carving of a doorway and windows, giving a face-like appearance to the ‘cave’. There are several accounts of its origin: a) Possibly the rock was carved by a stonemason working on the construction of Royal Albert Drive. He maybe used it as a shelter; b) The shelter is said by some, to have been made by Pexton. He was a local lad who worked on it while a schoolboy. Later he became a verger at St Mary’s Parish Church; c) A ‘wild lad’ called Bob Bogg left home in the 1880s for family reasons. Possibly he lived in the actual cave as a potential home? Whatever the explanation, Hairy Bob’s Cave has been a great attraction for generations.

Walk on for several hundred yards until you reach Albert Road at a point where it joins Royal Albert Drive. Opposite this junction on the seaward side, the Victorian pier once extended 1,000ft out in the North Bay.

3 North Bay Pier. During Victorian times ‘pier-mania’ dominated, and Scarborough was no exception. Eugenius Birch, an architect, produced plans in the mid-1860s for a pier on the North Bay. It was to be 1,000ft long from a central point on Royal Albert Drive into the North Sea. Birch’s pier took three years to build, and cost £6,000, opening for the 1869 season. Despite Mr W Hudson’s redecking the pier, it still made little money. The weather resolved the fate of the doomed pier. On January 7, 1905, the pier collapsed, destroyed by mountainous seas in winter gales. Scarborough’s North Bay pier is now known mainly by collectors of old picture post cards! At the far end of Royal Albert Drive, turn left at The Sands (where the Corner Cafe once stood), and walk to the roundabout. From here, Peasholm Park lake and pagoda are seen ahead.

4 Peasholm Park is a major open air attraction. Part of Scarborough’s heritage, it’s also perhaps the greatest achievement of Harry W Smith (Borough Engineer from 1897-1933). His creative genius endowed us with many superb gardens. In 1908 he transformed Tuckers Field into his vision of a willow pattern plate scene brought to life. Using a stream, he created a lake and small island, adding a boathouse, cafe, bridge and floating bandstand. Completed in 1912, later additions included a waterfall, pagoda and tree walk. Peasholm Glen rounded off his landscaping at Peasholm. The glen was created from the uninspiring Wilson’s Wood in 1924. From the roundabout, head towards the town centre, and take the left fork up Peasholm Road, passing the Alexandra Bowls on the left. Continue along North Marine Road for several hundred yards until you reach the Cricket Club grounds opposite the site of the Cricketers pub.

5 Scarborough Cricket Club was founded in 1849. By 1878 £7,000 had been raised by public subscription to purchase the site. Scarborough’s annual Cricket Festival was launched in 1876, and is the biggest crowd-pulling event in the Scarborough cricketing calendar.

Turn right on leaving the Cricket Club. Continue along North Marine Road to the junction with Trafalgar Square to the right. Walk the length of this square to the T junction. Turn left here and walk 200 yards to Dean Road. Cross over, turn right and you can now see the twin-turreted towers of the old prison just ahead to your left.

6 Prison. This small, impressive prison was built between 1865 and 1866, by Scarborough Corporation. It replaced an earlier jail on Castle Road. In 1877 The Prisons Act made the new prison roundabout after less than 12 years, when prisoners were transferred to jails in York and Hull. Architect William Baldwin Stewart, of Scarborough, designed the quaintly attractive gateway to give the impression of strength and security. The governor lived in the castellated tower on the right of the gateway, and the warder lived in the left-hand tower. The site has been used as a Corporation stores depot since 1899. The central cell block still remains intact. The former cells are crammed with tools and equipment.

Retracing your steps along Dean Road you’ll see to your right the site of the former workhouse buildings (7) of where St Mary’s Hospital featured. Scarborough’s workhouse opened on December 4, 1859, to about 100 inmates. In those days, not only the elderly, insane and very young were found there, but able-bodied who had fallen on hard times.

The institution cost £5,033 to build and had three long blocks. By 1923 there were 225 inmates.

By 1948 the workhouse began a new lease of life as St Mary’s Hospital. You’ll see that the original site is now a council depot!

To return to the town centre, continue along Dean Road. At the traffic lights cross over Castle Road, turn right and bear left on to Aberdeen Walk. You’ll find Westborough at the far end of Aberdeen Walk.