HOLBECK HALL 20 YEARS ON: Timeline of the disaster

Demolition of the Holbeck Hall Hotel
Demolition of the Holbeck Hall Hotel

Six Weeks Earlier:

First indication of any movement, when minor cracking was noted at two points on an upper path in what is historically an unstable area. No further movement was detected and the cracks were filled. Four weeks later the crack reopened. Another examination failed to reveal any other movement but it was decided by council officers to gain approval to engage consultatns to advise on the slope’s stability.

Two Days Earlier:

Extensive movement on the line of the original two cracks and movement appeared in the area of the hotel rose garden. It was the first indication there could be a major landslide. Access to some paths was closed for a thorough inspection.

Thursday June 3 1993:

Major movement occurred in the evening, as seen by walkers on the beach. Retaining walls and the sea wall were breached and the material from the slip extended about 100 yards down the beach from what had been the sea wall. The hotel reported at midnight that the rose garden had sunk by 4ft.

Friday June 4 1993:

7.30am - Residents at the hotel slept through a night of earth movement and awoke to find that the rose gardens and most of the front lawn had completely disappeared. The ‘new’ cliff edge was now about 20 yards from the hotel. Staff began to evacuate the guests before they had chance to have breakfast and collect their belongings, and started to remove their valuables. Guests were taken to the Bradley Court Hotel for breakfast.

10am - Further movements meant the hotel was 10 yards from the chasm. Police sealed off the hotel as cracks appeared in the walls. From the beach onlookers watched tons of earth fall into the seat at more than 20ft an hour, describing it as ‘like a lava flow’.

3pm - News of the disaster made the national headlines, and crowds of locals headed for the South Cliff to see the drama unfold. After teetering on the brink for so many hours the seaward wing finally gave way. The conservatory collapsed and the windows of the dining room shattered.

6pm - A warm summer evening, and thousands watched the hotel, now on every news bulletin. There were no more landslips that day, but some people stayed until late, hoping to be the ones who saw the hotel finally go over. It did not.

Saturday June 5 1993:

4am - As dawn broke the hotel was still hanging on by a thread. Throughout the night creaks and bangs could be heard. The main entrance finally collapsed and the front wall broke away exposing the bedrooms. Below the hotel what remained of the gardens was slithering down the beach as a large crater in the hillside could be seen.

11am - The bottom of Sea Cliff Road was sealed off as the public and reporter from every newspaper and TV and radio station gathered. Helicopters and microlights circled the Holbeck from above watching its every move.

4.45pm - A thundering crash brought the central part of the seaward wing finally crashing down in clouds of smoke. Six of the wing’s eight bedrooms vanished into the cliff below. Twenty minutes later one wall and the corner of the Rose Lounge followed down the hillside and the gable above the main door crashed to the ground.

Sunday June 6 1993:

7am - Thousands of people descended on Scarborough for a day beside the Holbeck.

1pm - Hillsides and beaches were awash with people craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the destruction. Businesses took a roaring trade with all the extra people and the fine weather at the time. It had become clear that there was no chance of rebuilding any of the hotel.

10pm - With most of the daytrippers gone those left behind waited to see if the hotel would finally go. But it was obvious the remaining half was unlikely to collapse of its own accord.

July 29 1993:

The remains of the Holbeck Hall Hotel had been flattened to the ground. Councillors approve the planning appliction for its demolition six weeks after the landslips.