Treasure trove of gems portray the social history of our town

From Scarborough to Scarborough. Wayne Murray and his dog outside his shop
From Scarborough to Scarborough. Wayne Murray and his dog outside his shop

From delicate egg cups to robust brewery flaggons – Wayne Murray has built up an array of artefacts recording Scarborough’s social history.

There is research of the town’s workhouse pinned to the wall, an example of Edwardian dress, Crested Ware, photographs, paintings and prints in his cosy unit in the Market Vaults in Scarborough.

It is among the ‘little gems’ in the caverns under the Market Hall in St Helen’s Square.

“I am trying to set up a 
social history museum about everyday people, the way they lived and the things they used,” said former builder Mr Murray.

His passion for the history of the town was ignited when he dug up bottles while he was working on what is now Seamer Road park and ride.

The reason he can now indulge it is the result of a motorbike accident which may have robbed others of Mr Murray’s obvious joie de vivre.

He was 100 yards from his work place on the A64 near Leeds when he was hit by a 
removal truck. His leg had to be amputated.

“As I see it, I was lucky. I get to see my kids grow up,” said Mr Murray, who has two daughters, 15-year-old Shannon and 13-year-old Keira, who spends Saturdays with her dad at Scardeburgh to Scarborough.

“I could not go back to the building industry but then if I had I would not have started this,” he said looking round his emporium-museum.

His collection – every item is related to Scarborough – has been sourced from on-line auction sites, car boot sales, hotel clearances, secondhand shops or donated.

There are items that recall the contribution made to the town by the entrepreneurship of the Rowntrees, department store owners, brewers the Nesfields, hoteliers the Laughtons and political and literary family the Sitwells.

“Scarborough had so many great families but if you walk through the town now there is no mention of them.

“I am hoping to change that and recognise them,” said Mr Murray, who is from Northern Ireland and has lived in Scarborough for 17 years.

He also has artefacts that belonged to quack Dr Rooke and his son William, Clarke’s Aerated Waters and the celebrity photographer Oliver Sarony.

It is not just the great and the good he wants to honour. One of his first projects is to buy a blue plaque for Leonard Ellis, the first British civilian killed in the First World War.

Ellis died on his way to work at Clare and Hunt’s the chemist in South Cliff during the German Bombardment of December 1914. “He paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserves to be recognised.”

Among Mr Murray’s favourite items is a table lighter presented to Tom Laughton, brother of the Oscar-winning actor Charles, by the staff when he left the Royal Hotel in 1964.

He also has memorabilia from the Cambridge and the Grand. He can be found in his museum with dog Jock nearly every day and chats away about the displays and artefacts.

Ultimately Mr Murray would like to open bigger premises in town and conduct school tours. “If you do not teach the young ones, all this will die away,” said Mr Murray.