Another Scarborough Sea Battle

Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Castle is a significant historical landmark located on the Yorkshire coast. The castle is perched on a rocky promontory, overlooking the North Sea, and has a history that spans nearly 3,000 years. The castle includes remnants of an Iron Age settlement, a Roman signal station, and an Anglo-Scandinavian settlement. It was initially built by William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle and Holderness, in the 1150s and later expanded by Henry II.

The main feature of Scarborough Castle is Henry II’s massive 12th-century great tower, which stands as a testament to the castle’s medieval past. This vast structure is surrounded by the inner bailey, which contains remnants of 12th-century buildings. Additionally, the outer bailey includes the ruins of a two-story royal lodging, a second hall, remnants of a Roman signal station, and medieval structures.

Despite being a ruin since the English Civil War, Scarborough Castle continues to attract tourists due to its rich history and the stunning views it offers over the North Sea. The name itself, of Saxon derivation, suggests a fortified rock on the summit of a cliff.

At one point the whole town was defended by strong walls, a moat and earthen mounds which before the invention of capable artillery must have made it impregnable.

In 1272 Edward I, Langshanks, the Hammer of the Scots, kept court there. Piers Gaveston the favourite of Edward II sought refuge in 1312. Six years later, Robert the Bruce reduced Scarborough to ashes. Richard III visited twice. George Fox, an early Quaker, was imprisoned within the 19 acres atop 300-foot high cliffs for 12 months for his religious beliefs.

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My father and grandmother, Scarborough castle, 1936.
© Always Worth Saying 2023, Going Postal

Scarborough Castle’s most significant destruction occurred during the English Civil War in the 17th century. The castle, held by Royalist forces, was besieged twice by Parliamentarian forces. The first siege, in 1645, lasted five months and ended when the garrison was starved into surrender. The second siege, in 1648, was shorter but more destructive. During this siege, the castle was heavily bombarded, leading to the collapse of much of the keep. After the war, the castle was further slighted to prevent its further use in conflict. This event marked a significant period of decay and ruination for Scarborough Castle.

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Scarborough Castle today
© Google Street View 2023,

In the modern day it looks similar to the photograph taken during my grandparents’ visit in 1936, except a large arched doorway previously bricked up has been knocked through and what looks like a janitor’s lean-to next to a wall has been removed.

You can have a look around in the modern day here.

Scarborough North Bay Railway

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Miniature railway.
© Always Worth Saying 2023, Going Postal

At first glance, your humble reviewer of old photographs thought this to be the Filey Miniature Railway, located at Butlins Filey, a 2ft gauge line that formed a half-mile loop around a boating lake. But this railway was operational from 1953 to 1983, not beginning service until nearly two decades after my family’s visit. Interesting all the same, the locomotive used on the railway was Baguley 3235 which served for an impressive 22 years before being replaced in 1975. Interestingly, the original locomotive still exists and can be found on the Amerton Railway which lies between Stafford and Uttoxeter. 3235 was one of several similar locomotives built by the Baguley company of Burton-on-Trent for leisure railways across the country.

The Filey railway was just one of many attractions introduced by Billy Butlin, who established multiple amusement parks and holiday camps across the UK, including the one at Filey seven miles along the coast from Scarborough.

No, photographed is the Scarborough North Bay Railway, one of Britain’s largest miniature railways which has provided delight to both young and old since its establishment in 1931. This popular attraction offers a unique miniature railway ride that runs for approximately seven-eighths of a mile between the town’s Peasholm Park and Scalby Mills where in the present day there sits the Sea Life attraction.

In addition to the railway ride, Peasholme Park also features a snack shack, a high ropes course, water walker balls, miniport boats, bumper boats, a gift shop and tea rooms catering to the interests of the entire family.

The railway was temporarily closed during World War II, as part of the defended North Sea coast but resumed its operations in 1945. The North Bay Railway Company took over the line in 2007, and in April 2021, the railway was sold to the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway’s proprietors.

The railway features four diesel-hydraulic engines within steam outline locomotives named Neptune, Triton, Poseidon and Robin Hood. The first three are numbered for the year they came into service, 1931-1933. Robin Hood is numbered 570. Originally diesel-powered, all are 20-inch gauge and were built by Hudswell Clarke of Leeds. 1931-1933 are of the 4-6-2 wheel configuration and 570 is a 4-6-4.

Poseidon and Robin Hood were originally built for the Golden Arce Park in Leeds and eventually ended up in Scarborough after a Cook’s tour of other attractions.

Therefore, the engine pictured in 1936 must be either Neptune or Triton, both of which are captured in the more recent photograph. Decide for yourselves which it is!

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Miniature railway today.
Scarborough North Bay Railway at Beach railway station,
Voice of Clam
Public domain

Although no longer with us, in the 1930s the Hudswell Clarke company of Leeds had much to look forward to. After the war, they worked on the nuclear deterrent and produced the metalwork for the Blue Danube freefall atom bomb bomb. Towards the end, they also manufactured the short-lived Councillor T C Potts road-making machine.

As for the location in the old photograph, given the single track with passing loop and wooden platform, this must be Beach station, the intermediate stop 40 chains from Peasholm and 20 chains from Scalby Mills. By happy coincidence, this is the location of the modern-day photograph. Puffins will notice an original foot crossing has been replaced by an ugly and expensive footbridge to prevent pedestrians from unknowingly stepping in front of a large and noisy train doing 10 mph.

Also about the place, visible above the footbridge, is a chair lift that local businessman Don Robinson built in 1972 to bring visitors to the town’s Marine Land and Zoo. Unfortunately, the zoo, subsequently renamed Marvel’s Amusement Park, hasn’t survived and neither has the chair lift apart from the abandoned concrete supports.

Peasholm Park

At the southernmost end of the line, Peasholm Park has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. The park was created in 1912, designed around a lake on land known as Tuckers Field. The design was executed in a Japanese style by Harry W. Smith, the Borough Engineer at the time. The park quickly became a popular attraction and venue for various events in the 1920s and 1930s, including fetes, galas, and fireworks displays. Naval Warfare introduced in 1927 was another significant event hosted in the park.

Despite experiencing neglect during the 1970s and 1980s, the park witnessed a revival in the late 1990s, when the Pagoda was reconstructed and the park restored with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Ever since, the Peasholm Park Friends group has been actively involved in the park’s regeneration. Today, the park covers 14 acres in the North Bay area and is free to enter. It offers a variety of activities, such as boat rides, Naval Warfare battle re-enactments and mini-golf, making it a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike.

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My father and grandmother in Peasholm Park.
© Always Worth Saying 2023, Going Postal

My father and grandmother are pictured at the Glenn Bridge which carries Northstead Manor Drive to Peasholm Drive over Peasholm Beck. With the beck to the left the photograph must have been taken here.

As you can see, shrubs and trees have been allowed to overgrow, spoiling the once carefully kept gardens. If you walk along the path you’ll find the impressive bridge remains but is difficult to see given the neglect.

On a brighter note, the park still hosts a renowned annual event, the Battle of Peasholm, a naval warfare simulation. Starting in 1927 makes this one of the oldest continual simulated battles of its type in the world. The spectacle sees 20-foot-long replica boats recreating a naval battle on the park’s lake, complete with smoke-filled vessels firing fake reports at each other. The shows are held three times a week from late May to September 1st, with varying days in June, July and August. After World War II, the fleet of boats was updated, and in the 1960s, aircraft were added to the exhibition. This event, set against the tranquillity of the park’s Japanese-themed garden and lake filled with dragon and swan-shaped boats, provides an intriguing contrast and attracts numerous tourists and residents annually.

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Naval Warfare Battle, Peasholm Park.
Naval Warfare Battle, Peasholm Park,
Hayley Green
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

When I was some years older than my pictured father, we were to visit Scarborough for our own family holiday. The engagement featured on the lake was the Battle of the River Plate. I can’t recall, but hopefully given our family background, there was an HMS Cumberland marooned near Peasholm miniature railway station as if in re-fit in the Falklands. What I am certain of is that I won’t be the only Puffin who had an Airfix HMS Ajax complete with a lead pellet-filled pod below the waterline allowing for bathtime reenactments of the reenactment of the end of the nefarious Admiral Graff Spee (booo) scuppered below the Japanese Pagoda or, if your imagination allows, alongside in Montevideo.

© Always Worth Saying 2023