Hispaniola uproar - 1993

THERE was uproar over a much-loved Scarborough boat this week 15 years ago.

The boat, the Hispaniola, had sailed every summer at the Mere since 1949 – with a "pirate" crew taking thousands upon untold thousands of youngsters to Treasure Island to search in the sand for buried gold doubloons.

The uproar, from parents, grandparents and adults with their own childhood memories of voyages on the Hispaniola, followed news from the Town Hall that the boat would not sail during the coming tourist season.

It was initially said this was because there was so much silt and weed in the lake – which wasn't due to be dredged until the autumn of that year – that the Hispaniola might be unable to get to Treasure Island and could get stuck on mudbanks. The boat also had engine problems, said the Town Hall, and the previous summer the attraction had run at a loss – of about 8,000.

But public suspicions that the Town Hall had another agenda grew when officials spoke about turning the Mere area into more of a natural wildlife park and a quiet haven for walking and fishing.

Also unveiled was a long-term plan to turn the Mere and Oliver's Mount into a country park.