Elvis is in the building. Or at least some of his treasured possessions are, as part of a pub’s collection of rare memorabilia.
The “building” is The King & Cask pub – formerly The Durham Hotel – in North Marine Road, Scarborough.
And landlord Mark Witherington’s love of Elvis is plain for all to see.
One side of the pub is a traditional 1960s style tap room, serving cask ales. The other side is a lounge based on a rock ‘n’ roll bar, including a 1964 Rock-Ola jukebox and a display of some 200 items relating to “The King”.
A former lorry driver and chauffeur, Mark has been in the pub trade for 12 years, including at The Plough in Scalby, The Grapevine cafe/bistro in Whitby and the Station pubs at Grosmont and Pickering. The developer was set to convert the once-proud but sadly rundown Durham – a real heartbreak hotel – solely into apartments until Mark stepped in with his idea for the bars (there are apartments above and below).
He and his family developed close links while at Grosmont and Whitby with the Heartbeat cast and crew, and there are
mementoes of the TV series.
But it’s Elvis who dominates – behind the bar a TV plays Elvis concerts or movies ... and on bank holiday Monday, August 29, Mark will be putting out his entire collection for the public to see when the pub officially opens. Admission is free but there will be collecting tins for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and RNLI.
Mark, 48, and wife Tracy have acquired most of the items through official sales and auctions in the US and UK or other authenticated sources, and have been several times to
Graceland, Memphis and Tupelo, the places hallowed by Elvis fans.
Mark’s dad was aTeddy boy and his mum a modette, and his love of Elvis began when he was aged just four. “That Christmas I got a record player, and my
Uncle Rob brought round his 45s. I heard Rock-A-Hula Baby by Elvis, and I was hooked. In 1973 I was allowed to stay up to watch the live Aloha From Hawaii concert.
“I went to school with Tracy – she got into punk but Elvis has always been part of our lives.”
The couple have become friends with, among others, Elvis’ former nurse and a cousin of his, and are recognised on the collectors’ circuit. In November they will be meeting Elvis’ widow Priscilla in London, and next year, the 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death, they are planning to bring one of his old friends to Scarborough.
Mark believes his is the premier Elvis collection in the North of England, and it is based on a fan’s story. There are numerous records, posters and photos, guitars, replica sunglasses, belt and jewellery, and then the authentic memorabilia, including a 1972 concert scarf, autograph, concert tickets and menus, a 1956 fan’s hat and a fan letter.
There is also a 1970s summer jacket worn by Elvis, car keys for a Cadillac given by Elvis to his infamous “Doctor Nick”, George Nichopoulos, and even a piece of carpet from Elvis’ Circle G ranch in Mississippi.
Pride of place, though, is a 14-carat gold Omega watch bought by Elvis in 1974 and gifted to his loyal sidekick Charlie Hodge. “Charlie wore it at Elvis’ last concert, in Indianapolis, six weeks before Elvis died, and it can be seen in the video of the concert. People have asked to see it and come here specially from away to try it on,” said Mark.
Normally locked away, it will be on display on Monday – under close supervision!
And if money were no object Markand Tracy would love to own an Elvis ring, costing up to £20,000.
“I think Elvis’ popularity won’t fade, even decades from now,” said Mark, who has tattoed on his arm lyrics from Suspicious Minds and Something (The Beatles hit performed by Elvis).
“Elvis liked to make people happy, and so do we. We’re bringing a little bit of Graceland and Memphis to Scarborough, and I hope people like what we’ve done. We’ve always supported charities – the lounge can be used for free by charities and we can host coffee mornings and Elvis themed parties.”