20090829_ Trip to Scarborough including Sea Battle re-enactment.
When : 29th August 2009
Who : Me and my Family
Summary : A trip back in time to re-live a little slice of my childhood
This isn’t a walk’s diary but it fits in well with the long week-end bank-holiday we spent at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel. Boggle Hole is really very close to Scarborough so we decided it’d be nice to relive some of my childhood memories of when my parents took me there on our annual summer holidays (for three consecutive years). We stayed at a little guest house in Scarborough’s back streets of terraced houses, and to this day I can remember the land-ladies name … Mrs Lowther … and the three holidays were brill’, many good memories sticking in the mind.
These memories included; :-
- Of course playing on the beach, making sand castles, Dad digging out sand motor boats or aeroplanes and we kids splashing in the sea whilst mum and dad were wrapped up in coats in deck-chairs against the chill north sea winds and sea frets (a proper traditional British summer holiday!).
- Visiting The Mere, a park with a small isle in the middle of a lake made up to be Treasure Island and a small scale Hispaniola Galleon that took us out to the island to search for Gold Doubloons (well plastic ones) buried in the sand of the island … a real treasure hunt for kids.
- Heading up onto the moors in our little Triumph Herald – adults in the front, kids in the back – Quite a tight fit, but do-able (we’re all spoilt for room in our big modern cars these days).
- AND …. going to Peasholm Park near Scarborough Town centre, to take rowing boats out on the pool and most spectacularly to watch the scale model sea battle re-enactment.
Well, although the beaches are great, we didn’t go to Scarborough for the sands – there was a perfectly acceptable one at Boggle Hole. But we did walk up into the town passing elegant terraces of guest houses (they’ve probably seen better days though) on the cliff top above the north beach arching around towards the castle up on the promontory … In the town we did a bit of shopping and found an internet cafe for a coffee, as my wife and daughter in particular wanted to check their emails and facebook stuff etc. and I took the opportunity to check my flickr (photo’s) and wordpress (blog) sites. When I was a kid the World Wide Web obviously hadn’t been rolled out to the masses, but we didn’t even have a land-line ‘phone at home! How things change!
The Mere was apparently allowed to fall into complete disrepair but I’ve read has now been resurrected as a country park and the pool is used for fishing. I’ve seen on the internet that the Hispaniola is still sailing though, now taking trips out into the north sea from the small harbour on the front.
As for the high moors, they don’t seem to have changed much at-all, maybe there’s a few more cars around now (well that’s a given), but people still love the trip up away from the coast to see the heather in full bloom …. Perhaps our conservation groups are winning the battle to keep our wild and beautiful places, errrm, wild and beautiful.
And finally, the main reason for revisiting Scarborough – The sea battle at Peasholm Park. I was hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed as I’d really built it up to my family and I suppose to myself as well. Well, the park was really well kept, obviously there’s still a lot of civic pride with flower beds, manicured lawns (probably kept short by the resident geese) and mature trees all around the central boating lake. The one slight disappointment was the island in the middle of the lake … It used to have lots of fairy lights and figurines (Disney cartoon characters and the like if my memory serves me correctly) and they’d all light up in the evenings with a walk way winding its way in a series of zigzags around the island – well the walkway is still there but the characters are now sadly gone. The pleasure boats are still there though, and we hired a dragon pedalo (in keeping with the Chinese theme of the park) to take us out around the island – boy-oh-boy did my legs know they’d worked hard!
The central island doubles up as the harbour area for the scaled down warships, and as I pedalo’d my family around we could see a gentleman thigh deep in the water (full length waders keeping him dry) preparing the ships for the show to be put on later in the afternoon.
The ships are big enough to be crewed by a single man sat inside steering and controlling speed etc. A commentator sits in a square pagoda sat out in the lake playing a selection of tunes on an electric organ in a mini one-man concert before the ships appear. The park itself is free to visitors, except when the shows are being put on through the summer. Just before the performance is due, the park is emptied of people who then have to queue up and pay a small amount to get back in again. There is a terrace area and grass bank with some bench seating that overlooks the boating lake and that’s where everyone congregates to watch the Naval Warfare.
The small glossy brochure you can purchase says that this unique holiday attraction could be the longest running show of all time and they believe the first performance was held around 1927. The earliest vessels depicted WW1 dreadnought battleships and similar and at more than 20 ft long were man powered. Electric power was introduced in 1929. After WW2 a new “fleet” was built, initially based on the recently fought Battle of The River Plate. Each ship was to scale and included the ships HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles and HMS Exeter and of course the German Pocket Battleship the Admiral Graf Spee as the enemy. Other ships and formats were introduced, including aircraft around 1960, and it was in the 60’s or possibly early 70’s when we first visited and I can still vividly remember the planes zipping down wires stretched above our heads and across the lake to the island. Modern sensitivities and awareness (some might even say overly intrusive political correctness) has resulted in the WW2 associations being dropped and the “Enemy” not “German” battle ship being renamed although we still more or less know what it’s really depicting (don’t we?).
Anyway, the ships are set up with explosive charges which are set off in puffs of smoke as the battle “rages” and the vessels fire upon each other, and model planes still fly across the action on the zip-wire from behind and above the audience “dropping bombs” as they go. After a good while, the show ceases, the good guys are the victors and all the ships do a lap of honour, the crews emerging to take a bow and accept the applause.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show …. It didn’t disappoint at-all …. this was obviously helped being sat up on the grassy bank in the shining sun. There must have been hundreds of people in the audience and I’m sure the look on our 8.y.o. son’s face during the show will mean he’ll have similar memories as I have from my childhood. It’d be nice to think the show will still be running when my kids have kids of their own. [ for a few more pic’s of the show, please go to my flickr photo site ].
Well, after the show finished with another burst of music on the organ, crowds of people headed for the rowing boats etc, we had a final walk around the park and then drove up into the town to see if we could find the street where I stayed on those three occasions, all that time ago.
It was then back to Boggle Hole and a spot of fossil hunting on the beach with my kids; splitting open the loose soft rocks with a hammer and screw driver … with a certain degree of success, albeit tiny little examples. Oh and there was a lovely sunset just to seal the day superbly.
And that’s about it for the day.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings even if it didn’t describe a walk as such.