Model ship is a stand-in for the Hispaniola

Model ship, Exhibit of the Week
Model ship, Exhibit of the Week

Most Scarborians over the age of 30 will remember, as children, hunting for gold (plastic!) doubloons on ‘Treasure Island’, after travelling across the uncharted waters of the town’s Mere on the good ship Hispaniola, with its motley crew of pirates.

Part of the next exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery, Last Stop Scarborough, looks at this quirky tourist attraction, with nostalgic photographs of the one-third size model of a mid-18th century schooner which once sailed the high seas of the Mere, but has, since the early 1990s, taken tourists around the South Bay instead.

The original Hispaniola, of course, was a fictional ship, one of the stars of Robert Louis Stevenson’s rip-roaring adventure tale, Treasure Island. First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialised in the children’s magazine Young Folks between 1881and 1882 under the title of Treasure Island or, the mutiny of the Hispaniola, with Stevenson writing under the pseudonym ‘Captain George North’.

The Hispaniola is bought by Squire Trelawney to take him, Doctor Livesey and narrator Jim Hawkins to seek the buried treasure of Captain Flint – reckoning without the machinations of one-legged cook Long John Silver, in reality a pirate.

The ship in our picture today will stand in for the Hispaniola in the exhibition. It’s a model of a man ‘o’ war from the early 1700s, and was made by Harry Wanless senior, who was born around 1872 and died in 1934, and was an artist and model boat builder.

It was donated to the Harbour Museum on the seafront by his son, Harry Wanless junior, but was transferred to the Rotunda Museum in 1952 when the Harbour Museum closed down.

Last Stop Scarborough includes hugely popular railway and corporation posters and rarely seen watercolours of Victorian Scarborough. It explores Scarborough’s place in history as the first seaside resort and will cover popular themes such as the coming of the railways, the beneficial qualities of sea bathing and the saucy seaside postcard, as well as some of the hidden stories of life in a major seaside resort.

Also on show will be various tourism-related items from the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the objects collected by the Borough over the years.

Last Stop Scarborough can be seen at Scarborough Art Gallery from Saturday 6 July until Sunday 5 January 2014. The Gallery is open from 10am-5pm every day except Monday (open Bank Holidays).