VIDEO - watch this rare footage of Scarborough Skipping Day on Shrove Tuesday in the 30s

Rare cine-film footage showing Scarborough’s famous Skipping Day, held each year on Shrove Tuesday, can now be seen in a new exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum.

By Duncan Atkins
Monday, 24th February 2020, 11:47 am
Updated Monday, 24th February 2020, 11:48 am

For more than a century, Shrove Tuesday or ‘Pancake Day’ has been celebrated by crowds gathering to take part in ‘Skipping Day’ on Scarborough seafront.

At its height, thousands of participants take up their ropes for the mass-skipping event.

Now, rare footage, dating from the 1930s can be seen, capturing this spectacle early in its history.

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Archive footage from the 1930s shows skipping in Scarborough on Shrove Tuesday.

Project Officer, Holly Smith, from Ryedale Folk Museum, has been cataloguing the Geoffrey Willey Collection - photography, slides, film and cameras bequeathed to the museum by the photographer.

“We’re delighted to have been able to preserve and share this very rare footage,” said Holly, “and, in particular, to work with the Yorkshire Film Archive.

"Thanks to this partnership, historically-important footage has been digitised and is now part of their amazing collection of Yorkshire filmography.”

“The film was very exciting to discover. It was in a box with a number of other films recorded by Geoffrey and is unlikely to have been seen by anyone for several decades.

“The footage really captures the size of the event and reinforces that this has been a tradition that people of all generations have enjoyed.

"The skippers look well-wrapped up that year, so it appears to have been a cold Shrove Tuesday down on the seafront.

"But it didn’t deter them!”

It is believed the tradition grew out of the fishing heritage, as local fishermen sorted and mended their ropes and nets by the beach.

Jim Middleton, Collections Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, said: “The exact reasons for the tradition are unknown, but it was a half-day holiday and plenty of rope was available around the harbour.

“Skipping on Shrove Tuesday has been a tradition in Scarborough since at least 1903 and probably longer.

"In the 19th Century, the day was known as Ball Day and the Foreshore Road was lined with stalls selling toys and balls, so there would have been a great atmosphere of leisure and celebration; today’s skipping is a continuation of much older traditions.

The footage has been made available to view as part of an exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum, A Life Through the Lens, telling the life of the Yorkshire-born photographer, Geoffrey Willey.

Living to the age of 103, Geoffrey photographed and recorded glimpses of life across many decades, before leaving his collection to the museum upon his death in 2015.

Raised in Scarborough, having moved from West Yorkshire when he was eight, Geoffrey had a life-long connection with the town and surrounding area and was educated at Scarborough College.

Geoffrey Willey / A Life Through the Lens is on display in the Art Gallery at Ryedale Folk Museum until Sunday March 29. open daily from 10am until 4pm.

Entry to the gallery is free.