Ahoy shipmates! Hispaniola history

THERE are few people who have grown up in Scarborough, or enjoyed a holiday in the town, who have not heard of the Hispaniola.

Scarborough's pirate ship has been a part of the town's history for the past 60 years and is still going strong.

Many people, myself included, will remember the excitement of trips out to "Treasure Island" as a child.

Queues of children and their parents would wait alongside the Mere for their turn to sail out to the island and dig for golden doubloons with a piece of wood.

Sometimes you would be lucky and see a sparkle in the soil as a doubloon caught the sunlight. Other times you have to work harder for your prize and keep digging away in the dirt.

But woe betide any youngster who did not manage to find a doubloon – they would receive a black stamp on the back of their hand from one of the rather convincing "pirates" who ran the ship.

I remember myself and all the other children around me digging away furiously as the last thing any of us wanted was that dreaded black stamp!

The Hispaniola has given pleasure to the young and young at heart for years, but it's second ever voyage, on June 18, 1949, did not go as planned.

With 10 children and a large group of dignitaries aboard, including the Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr and Mrs R.F.Chapman, the vessel ran aground in the mud 10 yards from the island.

An article in the Evening News, published on that day, read: "The sea-cocks were blocked by the engine and the official party were landed.

"The Mayor, on his return to dry land none the worse for his unexpected adventures – he had also been stuck in the tree-top look-out on the island – said: 'There is no truth in the suggestion that Long John Silver's charts were faulty.'