The origins of the Olympia

Dear Faith, Your reminiscences (Dear Faith, November 2) of the fire that destroyed Olympia brought to our minds the interesting origin of this vast wooden structure, relevant today because of the current concerns about fish stocks. 

It was built for John Woodall Woodall (1831-1905) to a design by the Scarborough architect John Caleb Petch (1853-1915). Woodall's father, John Woodall (1801-1879) was a Scarborough banker who lived in St Nicholas House, today's Town Hall, designed for him in the 1840s by Henry Wyatt (1811-1899) who was responsible for the Gothic saloon at the Spa (1839). The grounds of St Nicholas House extended right down to Foreshore.

Then, as now, the fishing industry was important to Scarborough.However, Woodall was concerned about the future of the industry and carried out fishery research from his specially fitted yachts. Woodall also planned the Scarborough Fisheries and Marine Exhibition for Spring 1895 and a vast exhibition hall was built over the preceding winter at the bottom of his garden next to Foreshore.The building, which could accommodate 5,000 people, was, according to the local newspaper, the largest floor area of any building in Scarborough.

The exhibition was formally opened 31 May 1895 by General Sir Evelyn Wood VC, Prime Warden of the Fishmongers' Company.In his speech at the opening ceremony Woodall said that British fishermen took 4.5 million of fish from the seas (General Wood later corrected him saying the figure was 5 million) and none of them did anything to replenish the catch.The hope was that the artificial propagation of fish might solve the problem. The exhibition was extensive and went well beyond its immediate objective.Exhibits directly concerned with fishing included twine, nets, lines, salt for curing and other items.Other exhibits included Nelson mementos, Captain Cook memorabilia, marine paintings and prints and much more.

The exhibition continued throughout 1895.In 1896 the building housed a Sports, Games and Industrial Exhibition while the next year Gala Variety entertainment was provided which included the cinematographe.

John Woodall Woodall, three-times Mayor of Scarborough sold St Nicholas House, its gardens and the exhibition hall to the Corporation in 1888.

St Nicholas House, later extended, became the present Town Hall. The exhibition hall continued to be occupied by lessees until the First World War and offered various entertainments.

The building, by now known as Olympia, was hit during the bombardment of Scarborough of 16 December 1914 and was used for making munitions boxes and airframe parts during the First World War. Olympia re-opened as a ballroom in 1919 and continued to be a key indoor tourist attraction, winter and summer, in Scarborough until it was destroyed by fire in 1975.

Anne and Paul Bayliss



A majestic ship

Dear Faith: I suggest Mr Westwood tries the reference library under Janes Fighting Ships 1906. This will give him some ideas. If his photo is good enough he could enlarge it and try to make out the name of the ship. It should be on a plaque to the left of the lifeboat at the stern, under the canvas shading.

I have built a Majestic Class pre-dreadnaught battleship that is currently on the market as a kit, to build into a working model. I am sure that if he finds that it is a Majestic, I can find details of the model being constructed in one of my model magazines if that would be any help. If Scarborough library cannot help then I suggest the Imperial War Museum London.

The Majestic Class included Majestic, Ceasar, Hannibal, Illustrious, Jupiter, Magnificent, Mars, Prince George and Victorious.

Building was started in 1893 and finished in1898 so this would be a good guess. The other class with funnels athwartships (side by side) was the Royal Sovereign`s but the mast arrangement in Georges photo does not look correct, bearing in mind that each vessel was slightly different from differing shipyards. I hope this will be some help to George.

Dave Craggs

Beech Close


Dear Faith,

I was pleased to see photo of pre-dreadnought battleship in Dear Faith, November 23.

This is most likely a Majestic class ship, (the Majestic class was similar to the earlier Resolution class in looks), and I would suggest HMS Hannibal or Illustrious (built 1895, 1996). Better detail of the funnels would identify. I would hazard a guess at Illustrious.

These ships had four 12 inch guns (two forward and two aft), 12 six inch guns, 16 12 pounders, 12 three pounders and two maxims, plus five 18 inch torpedo tubes. Engines were two triple expansion driving two screws. Design speed was 161/2 knots. (not knots per hour!!!).

Stuart Carter

Sea View Grove


A battle we all have to fight

This week's Dear Faith Raspberry goes to … queue jumpers!

You know the situation – you have joined the mile-long queue, even though all you need is a pint of milk, and you are behind someone who is doing their weekly shop.

You sigh loudly and resign yourself to a long wait.

Then, someone pays no heed to your patient waiting – and walks straight up to the tills, avoiding the queue, hoping no one will notice.

I was even told by one queue jumper in a well-known newsagent that he 'fought in the war' and therefore wasn't going to wait for his turn!

We all get frustrated by queues, especially at this time of year. However, queue jumpers beware – the rest of us can only take so much!

This is not an ordinary shop assistant ...

... This is a Marks and Spencer shop assistant, who gets this week's rose.

I was pleasantly surprised this week by experiencing what has to be the most polite greeting by a shop assistant – and it happened in Marks and Spencer.

The gentleman on the till was genuine in his greeting and made me feel fantastic, even though I was a very harassed lunch-hour shopper.

Thanks to their customer service training, I feel like a valued customer – a rare thing these days!

Email Faith with your quirky observations on life, and anything you think she might be interested in or might be able to do something about. Are you trying to contact former friends, or do you have a question she could find the answer to? Email questions and comments and pictures to