I like Scarborough.
Because there’s still a touch of the dowager about it – still hints of brio. I like Scarborough because when I was tiny we used to go to the East Coast resorts.
Because of the way the sea crashes over the North Promenade.
Because of the 50s cricket ground where Yorkshire CC play twice a year and where the tea stand is always busier than the beer concession, and there’s never even the possibility of general boorishness or fancy dress.
Because in the Summer the Scarborough Spa Express takes dashing pacific steam engines to the resort three times a week. A few summers back there was a poorly patronised evening out and back service with Flying Scotsman. Window hanging through the reverse curves at Kirkham Priory, and then through the unique corridor connection from the carriages down the side of the coal tender and into the cab. Rattling and swaying on past Malton – the crew the still calm centre of the scene.
Because a few more recent summers ago a spitfire and hurricane and other world war two war fighter planes performed exhilarating pyrotechnics shooting out up from behind and around Scarborough Castle at unlikely and exuberant angles. Whilst a Lancaster Bomber, the ultimate sitting duck, lumbered around like a lethargic, punch drunk psychopath.
Seaside resorts are always clutching at the future. Grabbing for the zeitgeist and stuffing whatever comes to hand into a plastic bag and making off to the coast with it. Maybe that’s why the Brits stick with them. We like the plucky, artless attitude.
Mind you, sometimes the future really works! In the background the Parisian inflected Yorkshire Gothic of Cuthbert Brodrick’s Grand Hotel. Once one of the largest hotels in the World – designed around the theme of time: four towers to represent the seasons, 12 floors for the months of the year, 52 chimneys symbolise the weeks, and originally there were 365 bedrooms, one for each day of the year.
And before that, when the perfectly white Georgian terraces were built at these Yorkshire resorts – tentative, imperious – it must have seemed like the Martians had landed on this brooding, primal coast with its prehistoric remains barely trapped in the capricious shifting cliffs.
The sticky charms of opening the lid on the place where dreams come to die.
Who can resist a Vitadome?
And Scarborough these days is all puffed up about its regeneration, new economy credentials – there was something on Look North about it winning awards for it. Hey a seaside resort that might not just be an economic basket case. Come and see! It’s a miracle!
Walked to Filey along the coast. Now if Filey was down south you would never hear the end of it. Stunning bay and Georgian terraces a go go.
Welcome to Knipe Point – kinda.
An estate of immaculate frigid bungalows hiding away from the messy modern world on a promontory.
Unfortunately for them the neighbour from hell has moved in next door and there’s nothing even the Daily Mail can do about it.
Cliffs and fields are gradually, and not so gradually, dissolving into crumbling wedges of glutinous mud, cascading into the waiting sea
An artist has bought one of them with his credit card for a few thousand pounds. And now the bungalow is an installation
I enter this strange liminal state on the cliffs. Vertigo. Like there’s several different courses of action I’m taking at the same time. The dream mes are wandering towards the edge, tumbling over. Like multiple simultaneous dreams of falling or being close to falling. The real me is trying to keep eyes down on the muddy path and in body.
Gothic cliffs. The one unmediated landscape – if mankind were to cease to exist – nothing would change here.