The Futurist - A Fresh Look

Mortal Mindy's picture


Since 2001 Scarborough Council (SBC) have been discussing the sale and development of the Futurist site on Foreshore Road. Nestled in the very heart of Scarborough's South Bay the Futurist Theatre represents a thumping part of the traditional aspect of the Tourist experience.

In 2002 Barrie Stead took over the operational side of the Futurist Theatre on a short-term basis, the SEN reported at the time "We want to bring the Futurist back to life and need the support of Scarborough people. Owners Scarborough Council are trying to sell the theatre, Mermaid bar and adjoining shops for redevelopment."

Since then campaigners have asked for the Futurist to be refurbished and restored to its original glory and even tried to place it into a Community Trust.  The Council have ignored and sidelined all those requests.

It took a while, but by March 2012 SBC had thrown into the Futurist Development pot the Town Hall, adjoining admin buildings, parts of King Street, and some of the public gardens alongside creating a comprehensive 105 page Development Brief "Town Hall & Futurist" 12.00595.DB%20Futurist_&_Town%20Hall%20D.Briefv19%20s.pdf

After much local publicity and a strong campaign led by Scarborough Town Action Group (STAG), Tom Fox, Leader of the Council said that "we have listened to the people ...." and that the Town Hall would remain as Scarborough's Civic Centre.  Nevertheless the marketing of the Wider Development including the Futurist would continue.

On Friday 13th December 2013 an 'urgent' decision was made to close the Theatre.

However, within that 'decision' was an opportunity, a three month window for campaigners or developers to put together proposals, a business plan together with viable funding options and present them to the Council before any long-term decision was finalised and the bulldozers get sent in.  

"6.10 It is proposed that for a period of 3 months the Council will maintain the Futurist Theatre, to a minimum standard, to provide time for an alternate operator to come forward. During this period, in order to protect the building from vandalism, the external of the premise will be‘boarded up’, with the frontage being in a tasteful and sensitive manner, reflecting the prime location it occupies.

6.11 Any prospective new operator will during that 3 month period need to demonstrate the viability of their proposal with a valid business plan and evidence of necessary funding.

6.12 If, during this 3 month period, no viable alternate operator is identified then the building will need to be closed and the wet systems shut-down.

Local 'shock' reaction to the Leaders Decision was not convincing. This had been on the table for some time. Indeed, September 2013 :

Cabinet is recommended to:

 (i)        note that the operation of the Futurist Theatre has been under the spotlight for a number of years;

(ii)        accept that the process, including a Task Group review and several consultants reports, has been robust and transparent;

(iii)       accept that this process has now concluded and the continued operation of a Theatre in the current site is unsustainable;

(iv)       authorise Officers, in conjunction with partners, to undertake soft market testing on the redevelopment of the Town Hall and Wider Development Site;

(v)        delegate authority to the Director of Business Support to re-negotiate with the Homes and           Communities Agency in respect of the Joint Venture Agreement for the Town Hall and Wider    Development site (to retain the HCA as a key development and investment partner);

 (vi)       instruct Officers to present a further report to Cabinet outlining the revised terms of the Joint Venture      with the Homes and Community Agency;

(vii)       continue to work with Public Sector Partnerships (PSP) regarding the outline options for the Town Hall and Wider Development site, accepting that a future decision will be required by Cabinet as to PSPs long term involvement in this project;

(viii)      instruct Officers to enter into negotiations with the present Operator of the Futurist Theatre aknowledging that redevelopment of the Town Hall and Wider Development site is the preferred option (accepting that terms may not be agreed);

(ix)       if recommendation (viii) above cannot be agreed then instruct Officers to seek alternate, interim solutions to operate the Theatre or failing that to close the Theatre;

(x)        delegate authority to the Director of Business Support to resolve any title issues that may arise related to the Town Hall and Wider Development site.

Certainly Robert Goodwill has had other ideas about keeping the Futurist, confirmed by Yorkshire Coast Radio (96.2 FM) Report :  

Robert Goodwill MP  - Reacts To Closure Of Futurist  8:03am 29th December 2013

A Yorkshire Coast MP has been reacting to the closure of the Futurist Theatre in Scarborough.

"it's time to move on"  and agrees with the Borough Council's decision to close it in January.  Goodwill says he would like to see a multiplex cinema in its place.  And goes on to say  "I really don't think the council could have justified spending between £4m and £7m on it. I think we now need to move forward to look at what we can put on that site as an alternative.... I used to get letters from people saying you can't knock down the Futurist, it's part of our history. When I'd telephone them to ask them when they were last there it was sometime in the 1960s. It's a bit like the Corner Cafe, it was close to a lot of people's hearts but unfortunately local people didn't frequent it in the very large numbers they would've needed to enable it to have a long term future."

The ongoing 'political' debate about the Futurist has also been well Minuted :

SBC Minutes 04/11/13

(vi) Homes and Communities Agency/Scarborough Borough Council - Joint Venture Agreement (Reference 13/359)  The recommendations in the extract minute from the Cabinet (15 October 2013) were proposed by Councillor Fox and duly seconded. Councillor Jefferson advised that she was pleased that the Director of Business Support in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning and Regeneration had successfully re-negotiated terms with Homes and Community Agency to extend the Joint Venture Agreement beyond 30 September 2013 and welcomed the setting up of a Project Board. She advised that over 4000 signed ‘My Theatre Matters’ cards had been handed to Councillor Fox prior to the meeting. The cards had been funded and administered by the Stage Newspaper, Equity and the Theatrical Management Association. She also advised of the official e-petition on the Borough Council’s web-site and an official ‘Hard copy’ petition within the Borough. The aim of the petitions was to achieve over 5000 signatures in order to bring the Futurist ‘Community’ proposals back to full Council and Project Board for consideration. The meeting was advised that members of this Group constituted those who earned their living, either through tourism/hospitality, trade or direct employment in theatre and entertainment generally. The Group had banded together and were asking the Council and Homes and Community Agency, through the Joint Venture Agreement Project Board to listen and work with the Group to retain the Futurist Theatre within the Futurist Site and support its restoration, expansion and inclusion within the proposed Town Hall and wider development plan. The Group feel that the development of apartments and other associated tourism businesses in and around this seafront site together with an application to the Coastal Communities fund could in turn provide the initial stimulus to restore and modify the Futurist Theatre to accommodate ‘A’ rated travelling shows. This would in turn boost the overall economy and employment within Scarborough and the wider Borough and kick start other proposed developments within the catchment area and extended development site. Councillor Jefferson also sought confirmation, based on the recommendations of the Theatres Trust and subsequent agreement by the Cabinet in July, that the Futurist Theatre would remain open. Councillor Bastiman said he was surprised to hear the comments made and said in-depth work undertaken by the Futurist Task Group had proved that the theatre was not viable. The Council needed to ‘bite the bullet’. A development which would link the seafront to the town centre would be a great improvement and boost to the economy of the Borough. Cllr. Jeffels said that the Task Group had spent 10 months of deliberation on the Futurist and it was recognised that it occupied a prime site and has considerable potential – a development that could link King Street and the rear of the Town Hall with the seafront. He expressed the view that the results of the marketing exercise would be known in the not too distant future and these could include provision for a theatre to be built or the existing one to be retained. The main objective is that whatever is suggested must be sustainable for the Borough. Councillor Jeffels commented that with regard to the provision of a theatre in the development, nothing had been ruled in and nothing had been ruled out.

RESOLVED that Council:

(i) Note that the Director of Business Support in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning and Regeneration had successfully re-negotiated terms with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to extend the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) beyond the 30 September 2013 deadline.

Well, that summises the 'History' of the Futurist.   According to Community Asset Transfer rules it cannot be placed as such because it is part of 'A Wider Development'.

I have a few Q's - When did HCA became 'owners' of the Mermaid and attached buildings and on what terms?  (HCA - formerly Yorkshire Forward)

How long have HCA agreed to leave their 'investment' on the table?

What is Cllr Bastiman's history with King Street and St Nicholas Street?  (He seems to be the one driving this development).

What is David Chance's role in this?  (portfolio holder for Tourism and Culture)

Will the bulldozers move in before any Local Campaign can gain credibility?

I also take issue with Robert Goodwill's view on the Corner Cafe - I was there on the day the Council decided to bulldoze the Corner Cafe, and also the very sad day  when the bulldozers moved in to demolish it.  The Corner Cafe was a high value community venue and is sorely missed.   This is a traditional Seaside Resort and needs to maintain its traditional Theatrical Attractions.  Whilst the Crankies may be past their sell by date I hear that Sooty and Basil Brush are immortal  - long live Basil Brush!! - no ref to Tom Fox intended.



Mortal Mindy's picture

Fresh for the Futurist

The SN headlines that 'A report, that will go before the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, lists two options for the vacant site. One of the options comes from a party named only as ‘Bidder B’,

In its proposal it states that it would replace The Futurist with: “A visitor attraction showcasing and displaying three distinct environments consisting of ‘subterranean, on the coastline and sky’ consisting of:

• A ‘landmark Pebble’ building with a magical cave-themed indoor environment

• A glass-fronted building with water cascading down the front

• A ‘high octane, adrenaline fuelled’ roller coaster

• A 55 metre ‘iconic’ lighthouse structure and Space Shot Tower which propels guests 55 metres into the sky

• A walk through aviary

• A new town square for Scarborough (on the site of King Street Car Park)

• An elevated dining venue giving diners views of the North Sea

• An undercover botanical garden (on a parcel of land within St Nicholas Gardens)

• 10,500 sq ft of potential residential, office or hotel space

“The Bidder has confirmed that no cinema offer would be located within the development.”

A restaurant proposal from another bidder has been rejected by council officer.'

Interesting comments though I guess if they really want to keep the theatre they could, albeit with a Ghost Train running through it, chuck in a few simulators, actors etc and hey presto Scarborough has its own house of horrors ..... again ... oh yeah thats the Town Hall .... seems like the consortium of s'rts - especially with the ongoing hoo haa over a cinema complex  - how long have SBC been sat on a multiplex town centre cinema application?




Mortal Mindy's picture

Flagpole for the Futurist

Wots 'appening at the 'Futurist'?   Nobody seems to know.... not for lack of trying. Negotiations are still ongoing with Flamingoland, behind closed doors. 

Was this  built when the Futurists fate was feted?

Hmmm ... was that a hint?

Image result for brighton tower

Is it a bar, is it for birds, is it a free strip joint, a new lighthouse, GCHQ, HMRC, a DEA HQ, Jim Dillon's new office, a devolutionary Mayor's  parrot perch?

Hmmm "Marks Barfield would put in £6m, the local enterprise partnership (LEP) would put in £4m, but now the shortfall was £36m instead of £15m. Again, Brighton council agreed to meet the cost, again controversially. Those who had angrily opposed the first lot of borrowing were now apoplectic."

A familiar ? Nope tis definitely a giant flagpole. But where's the flag? Doh .... tis a stake ... tis a trifle stick ..  a pick, tis a ... erm erm a flood defence warning system !!!

Captain Qahn's picture

Brighton's Beacon

"The world's thinnest tall building opens on Thursday offering views of up to 26 miles of Sussex coastline.

The 531ft (161m) British Airways i360 viewing tower stands on the site once occupied by the entrance to Brighton's ruined West Pier.

Visitors ascend 450ft (137m) in a 360-degree curved-glass pod.

But it has divided local opinion, with some declaring it "a total monster" others praising it as "world-class, stunning architecture"... "

Valerie Paynter, of the saveHove campaign, said it was "like something springing horribly out of the earth in a horror movie".

"But Glynn Jones, chairman of the West Pier Trust, thought the "vertical pier in the sky" showed "the city is, once again, embracing and celebrating world-class, stunning architecture".

The tower affords visitors views from Bexhill in East Sussex to Chichester in West Sussex with the South Downs to the north."

"Chief Executive of i360, Eleanor Harris, claimed the tower would transform Brighton's tourism prospects.

She said: "We have built the world's first vertical cable car, the world's tallest moving observation tower, the world's most slender tower.

"We are putting Brighton on the map and promoting the city around the globe."

'SaveHove' Eh?


Ah, so .... Fifty fantastics:

Hmmm ....

Oh,OK: tis an antenna ?


Captain Qahn's picture

The Futurist - Behind Closed Doors

"It would appear that the Futurist theatre is not on the agenda for the full council meeting on Monday July 4. Also that it appears to be on the cabinet agenda for the meeting on July 12, but not the part open to the public.

If the recent national referendum taught our public officials anything, it should be that if you continue to ignore and insult the intelligence of those who elect you long enough, they will fight back.

Scarborough Borough Council has ignored the public continuously on the subject of the Futurist and the adjoining land regardless of the fact that they received 11,000 signatures asking them to renovate and restore the Futurist theatre as part of the total land area redevelopment. Their excuse is that because private investors are involved, then all discussions must be confidential.

What about the public investors, known as the council tax payers, do we not have equal right to be openly involved participants in these talks?

How many times do they need to be reminded of the fact that both theatre and the adjoining land are in public ownership, and the taxpayers’ money has always been used to maintain it and keep it open, and is now being used to settle its future (or in our case non-future).

On behalf of the people of Scarborough the Save the Futurist campaign submitted a 76 page business case to each of the 50 councillors and to the senior council officers. This was also published in local media so that everybody would know there is a viable and professionally developed alternative available. Research and writing took over two years to perfect. None of you will be surprised to hear that only four councillors acknowledged receipt, and no officers. Those councillors, one of whom was the Labour leader, were kind enough to publicly compliment us on it.

The council, by actively refusing to allow the people ownership, are by that same action preventing the people from raising funds to buy it from them. That is the way the fundraising system works. It is a Catch 22 situation.

Denying Community Asset Transfer is the council’s way of ensuring that we cannot raise sufficient funds. Our only hope is for somebody to come forward with the money to buy it outright from them, now. The council needs to publicly name a price. Unless of course the council will discuss it all openly in a business like and democratic process with the people. Let us fight for that!

Patricia David,

Save the Futurist,"

Captain Qahn's picture

Rollercoasting ....

"Aspiring engineers from Scarborough new University Technical College were invited to Flamingo Land to look at the engineering of the rollercoasters.

One of the students, who has riden 430 rollercoasters, is hoping become a funride designer.

Theme park owner Gordon Gibb showed the students the ‘extreme ride’ including the record reaking Mumbo Jumbo.

Many of the students attending the UTC in September are fascinated by the design of the rides, with aspirations to design and build a rollercoaster.

Sixth Form student Ben Bryant said: “I started to think about how all these marvels of engineering worked. This caused me to look into the manufacturers and how the track is fabricated.

“I’ve ridden 430 coasters and I hope to become a roller coaster engineer and have a part in maintaining and or designing them.”

Mr Gibb said: “Flamingo Land has had a long association with educational institutions such as Askham Bryan and the University of York, which has lead us into founding the Udzungwa Forest Research Project in Tanzania.

“The prospect of working with UTC is exciting and we look forward to assisting them with practical experience of our industry at Flamingo Land Resort for their future students”.

Mumbo Jumbo ... not quite the usual Jack Binns ...  has this been half cut?

Captain Qahn's picture

Thermo Dipsticks

"Plans could move forward next month for a brand new Flamingo Land theme park - and this time it would be indoors.

The state-of-the-art park would include a host of action packed rides, including a rollercoaster.

There would also be a ride called ‘Space Shot Tower’ which hurls thrill seekers almost 180ft into the air!

The venue is tentatively named ‘Flamingo Land Coast’, and would be built on Scarborough’s South Bay seafront - a short drive from the town’s new multi-million pound water park.

The proposed park, on the Futurist Theatre site, could also include a botanical gardens and a 55m tall lighthouse structure, as well as a cave-themed attraction.

A water-slide is planned, as well as a “lake” on the venue’s roof.

Three different themes would run through the park - subterranean, on the coastline and sky...

A Scarborough Council spokesperson said a report on the plans will be made public on September 6, with councillors set to discuss it a week later.

Over a million people flock to North Yorkshire’s Flamingo Land every year, many of those from Teesside.

And the theme park sponsored Boro’s kit last season."


Captain Black's picture


" the average household spends about 17 per cent of its income on food, whereas 400 years ago it was as much as 80 per cent...."

Ah, so ?

"...So a few couples were hanging out and having some beers one night and then they decided “hey, why don’t we throw a hatchet at a tree?” And so a business was born. Welcome to New Jersey.

Stumpy’s Hatchet House began operations in May this year and has been gaining national attention for its unique…uh…service to mankind: Hatchet throwing. With beer. No questions asked.

At Stumpy’s you’re given a hatchet, safety training and a lesson for just $40.  And then you’re off to compete with your friends, office mates and other people who have an ax to grind…or just to want to work off life’s anxieties by throwing a hatchet at one of eight stationary targets for hours and hours..."

Word of the day : 'Stumpys'

Captain Black's picture

Out of the Hat

Oh, OK
Now where do those magical numbers appear from?  
"...  The Guggenheim Helsinki project has been the subject of intense scrutiny since plans were unveiled in 2011. Opposition has come from both the populist far right and members of the left and Social Democrats, for different reasons. All seemed to agree that public funding should not be spent on a private institution, especially when the government is enforcing austerity measures to help the economy rebound from an economic downturn.
Also voiced was a sense that the proposed museum represented an outside cultural influence, not a homegrown product of Finnish cultural sensibilities.
“I’m exhausted but relieved,” said Osku Pajamaki, a City Council member who was a leading opponent of the Guggenheim proposal. “Instead of buying a subsidiary of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, we can now focus on creating unique local cultural attractions in Helsinki.”
Ah, so ....  flights ;-???
nts  The game kicks off at 11pm our time on February 5 2017 and is likely to last around four hours.

Captain Black's picture

Planet 'Save the Futurist'

 ... it looks better already '-)

Oh, OK:

"4:36pm 1st December 2016

A group trying to keep Scarborough's Futurist Theatre from being demolished has published its own document, outlining plans for the future of the building.

Scarborough Borough Council has already announced its intention to have the famous old theatre demolished and for it to be replaced with an attraction built by Flamingoland. 

The Save the Futurist Campaign Group say that it is still viable financially to keep the venue.

The document states:

"We wish to see the Futurist fully modernised and beautifully restored as a central part of the tourism and cultural provision for both the town and the wider region.

"We also believe that an updated Futurist Theatre, re-fitted as a world class facility, would bring untold economic benefits to each and every resident of Scarborough; theatregoer or not."

It goes on to say:

"simple logistical problems are the main barrier to Scarborough’s Futurist attracting world-class product with a broad commercial appeal; and all are easily remedied within the current footprint of the building.

"We would advocate the removal of the Front of House areas, box office, foyer and entrance from their current location directly beneath the stage, relocating them all to the commercial units at the southern end of the building, directly beneath the auditorium.

"By relocating and reorganising the associated stairwells, bars and other front of house infrastructure, much-needed space is created either side of the stage to expand the wing space and add dock doors for scenic and technical access directly onto the stage area.

"Also, this crucially frees space beneath the stage (sub-stage) for automation equipment and traps etc; a critical requirement for many modern productions."

You can view the full document here:

Save The Futurist - Scarborough Review 161130 (pdf)

In a statement released by the Council today, Councillor Derek Bastiman said:

"The council has already allocated £4 million towards the redevelopment of the Futurist site in its 2016/17 budget.

"The Futurist will be replaced by a world class £20m exciting visitor attraction involving Flamingo Land Limited, one of the UK’s most innovative leisure operators.

"Their principle theme park attraction already attracts more visitors to Yorkshire than any other attraction and in 2015 was the seventh most visited attraction in the country.

"A report on the cost and methodology of clearing the Futurist site to pave the way for the redevelopment will be going to Full Council in January.”


Yep, fag packet ... stuff... don't spose they've dug out the heating bills. ...

wiv warmth n depth

Give the 'cat' another goldfish...

X'cept its not the Save the Futurist anymore is it ... tis selective.... back to back.




Captain Black's picture

Planet Janet

Cllr Janet Jeffersons 'The true facts being the Futurist Fate ...'

"After nearly three years since the Futurist was closed and the ‘in principle’ recommendations were taken by the cabinet in September 14, I have now had confirmation, following an email by myself to the director concerned and legal services, that reports are now being prepared and that the Futurist redevelopment report will finally go to full council for ratification on Monday January 9, 2017. I hope the meeting will be a public meeting with a recorded vote, so everyone is on record.

I attended two separate meetings last week where updates on the Futurist were given by the chief executive Jim Dillon and council leader Derek Bastiman both of whom stating that the decision to demolish the Futurist had already been taken, one making reference to this as being during 2013 and that new drawings from the preferred developer would be forthcoming within the next few weeks of what would be a circa £20m development contained within the ‘Futurist Land Footprint’ and that they no longer need part of St Nicholas Gardens, which has been confirmed to me.

Within my email I stated that I had gone through all cabinet/council agendas and minutes and the only reference regarding demolition was within the September 16, 2014, cabinet meeting when ‘in principle’ recommendations with regard to the preferred bidder, whom we now know is Flamingo Land, wanted to purchase a cleared and stable site. A planning application did go to planning and development in December 2014 with a request as to whether permission would be needed to demolish the Futurist – the recommendation said yes it would need to go to a future planning and development meeting for ratification etc.


Looking back since 2013, the decision to close the Futurist theatre was issued on December 13, 2013, and in the event the theatre closed in January 2014.


The ‘People’s Petition’ which I co-ordinated, under Scarborough Borough Council regulated petition rules, had to be signed by over 5,000 persons who either lived, worked or studied within the borough of Scarborough before it would qualify to bring the Futurist to a full council debate. The petition totalling 6,800 was handed over to the legal director in January 2014.

It was fully ratified as reaching the 5,000 threshold and went for debate at the May 2014 full council which in turn made it an ‘A’ item, ie any decisions having to be ratified by full council. The recommendation from that full council involved a meeting of the Joint Venture Board whereupon a decision was taken to split the Town Hall Futurist redevelopment and the Futurist became a ‘stand alone’ project and was advertised through an ‘appraisal’ inviting bids etc and covering a 250 year lease. The bids received were discussed as stated during the cabinet meeting of September 16, 2014, and according to the minutes the recommendations in principle included part of St Nicholas Gardens and King Street Car Park. A full council agreement followed enabling the purchase from Homes and Community Agency of the Mermaid section etc, giving Scarborough Borough Council full ownership.

The next report to go to cabinet on September 15, 2015, covered briefings on stabilisation reporting in particular that further surveys had confirmed that the building provides support to the slope behind. Full council on Friday February 26, 2016, gave approval/ratification under the 2016/17 budget to some £4m being allocated for the Futurist redevelopment with no mention within that document being made to either demolition, stability or clearance of the site.

The stability of the land is a key factor, the people within the 100 plus properties around the Futurist are frightened about what will happen within this area as each property holds the other up within the tiered landscape and there are voids below Blands Cliff, indeed only this week further investigations have taken place within the King Street Car Park and residents nearby have reported vibrations within their properties.


The Save the Futurist campaign and YMCA public meeting brought forward excellent presentations and proposals based on many years of research together with plans to provide a ‘dock door’ to bring in larger set ‘A’ rated shows which in turn, as proved within other towns, could bring millions of pounds into our local economy. With regard to funding, as stated some £4m has been agreed within the 2016/17 budget for the Futurist redevelopment which, together with a funding scheme put forward by a local businessman based on the number of theatre seats with an ingoing payment and yearly membership subscriptions would bring sustainability to the running and operations of the theatre. There have also been many pledges of ‘in kind’ support from the construction industry. The constituted/friends group leading to trust status co-ordinated by a professional person or body now needs to take all this work forward to full council. There will be a further public meeting at the YMCA on Thursday January 5, 2017, at 7pm.

Finally, Scarborough Borough Council have applied for a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Listing’ and Historic England are preparing a report taking on board other facts with regard to this historic building and I have been advised by the Theatre’s Trust that if this certificate is not issued to Scarborough Borough Council, the Futurist would become which as confirmed by Scarborough Borough Council could alter the forthcoming reports to full council on January 9, 2017.

Cllr Janet Jefferson

Castle Ward




Ah,so ... another wee gem;-0

Benefitz Betty's picture

Dens of Inequity

Top Totty:

"1910 Opens as a Roller Skating rink....

2004 Demolished"

One for the harpers.
All Theatres 6139
Open 1079
Showing movies 882
Closed 5061
Demolished 2772
Restoring 23
Renovating 32
Mebbe ... Spin, moi?
Captain Black's picture

Review the Futurist

Via Scarborough Review a Futurist Four Page Pull out ... tis a cracker :-?

Meanwhile, another wee sight for sore eyes via the Snooze:

"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."


Captain Black's picture

Futurist : A Crucial Crucible?

"THE BULLDOZERS could finally move in on an East Coast landmark next Spring after council officers recommended approval of a £4m demolition plan.

Conservative-led Scarborogh Council will meet on January 9 to decide whether to back the scheme, which includes demolishing the Futurist Theatre, once one of the best known seaside venues in the country, and stabilising the cliff behind it.

The cleared area would then be redeveloped by Flamingoland, which according to a report, retains a “strong” committment to the site.


Leader of Scarborough Borough Council Derek Bastiman said if members didn’t support the recommendation, the town would be left with an eyesore.


He said: “The matter has been discussed since 2010 and there has been various scrutiny meetings and public consultation and the result remains the same - that there’s no future for the Futurist in Scarborough.”

Leader of the Labour Group Steve Siddons said they needed to see the detail of a technical report before making a decision: He said: “There will be a briefing on January 5. We are conscious of everybody’s views.

“We want to take the right decision and can’t do that till we have all the evidence before us.”

Coun Siddons said the work would open up the site behind all the way to St Nicholas Street. He added: “It isn’t just simply about the Futurist theatre, it’’s about the regeneration of the town centre and that’s an absolutely key decision. The town centre is desperately in need of refurbishment.”

Campaigners fighting to save the building have called for a recorded vote at the full council meeting. They are holding a public meeting on January 5 at Scarborough’s YMCA Theatre.

It comes after nearly 300 people attended a meeting in November with a Facebook Live video stream reaching almost 19,000 people demonstrating “the huge weight of public support” for the Futurist. Patricia David, of Save The Futurist, said: “We have a local election coming up and we need to know which councillors voted for and against.

“There are people who have moved from being pro-demolition to sitting on the fence and some who have moved from sitting on the fence to being in support of saving the Futurist.

“It’s all to be played for.”

If councillors agree, the council will employ contractors Willmott Dixon to undertake the work.

A report says the method of demolition is “critical” as knocking down the Futurist “will trigger instability in the slope above.”

A feasibility study proposes to dig 4m into King Street car park creating a “development platform”, and then a second slope at 45 degrees to form a lower development platform.

In its budget-setting meeting in February the council agreed a financial strategy, including adding £4m to the capital programme for the redevelopment of the site.

A Scarborough Council spokesman said: “The report, which will be debated at a full council meeting of Scarborough Borough Council on Monday January 9, asks councillors whether they wish to support the allocation of funding for the demolition of the Futurist theatre and associated stabilisation of the adjacent cliff.

“The report is a culmination of extensive reporting, engagement and decision-making over many years, including an in depth scrutiny review process in 2010.”

No one was available to comment from Flamingoland."

Doodles ...

Captain Black's picture

The Art of Plunder

"...By the spring of 1540 all of Yorkshire’s religious houses, great and small, had been confiscated by the Crown. However, if the royal treasury had kept all these properties it would have strengthened the monarchy enormously, but wars with Scotland and France in the 1540s were so expensive that Henry VIII’s ministers were selling monastic land and spending abbey assets almost immediately. By Henry’s death in 1547, two-thirds of all former religious properties had been sold off.

The sale of Yorkshire’s ex-monastic land continued under the reigns of Henry’s children, so that by 1603 virtually none of it remained royal. In fact, most of it had passed by gift, sale or lease to the county’s gentry...."

Over the Hill and far away ...

"...A number of heritage groups objected to the plans, including Scarborough Civic Society and The Victorian Society..."


Benefitz Betty's picture

A Tale or Two ...

"By 1800 there were beginning to be two Scarboroughs, not one. The old town was populated by permanent residents who lived and worked there, and the new Scarborough was being built largely to accommodate the seasonal “spawers” and their families.

A century earlier, in 1697, when Celia Fiennes rode side-saddle into Scarborough, she later described it as “a very pretty sea-port”. Yet, though Mrs Thomasin Farrer had discovered the mineral springs bubbling out of the base of “an exceedingly high cliffe” (Driple Cotes) 70 years earlier, there was still only minimal catering in the town for well-to-do visitors. The “good accommodation...on reasonable terms”, Miss Fiennes found only in the private homes of Quakers, who kept clean rooms and served set meals at fixed prices. As yet, Scarborough’s many inns were designed only for commercial travellers, not for guests staying for the summer season. Accommodation for visitors and horses was smaller there than even Northallerton and only a tiny fraction of that of York, Leeds, Malton, Beverley or Thirsk.

As a result, across the four Quarters of the town, Undercliff, Oldborough, Newborough and St Mary’s, rich and poor residents lived side by side. In contrast, England’s larger urban societies, such as York, Newcastle, Bristol and Norwich, already had affluent central parishes surrounded by the poorest in outer suburbs. Scarborough’s only impoverished “suburb” was Falsgrave, then a detached rural village, whereas in the town the wealthy were scattered fairly evenly on Sandside, on St Mary’s hillside, in St Sepulchre Street and in Newborough, which despite its name was not new at all.

Scarborians were very slow to respond positively and productively to the special needs, expectations and high standards of their opulent, leisurely and often infirm visitors. Some of them came just for a good time to a place where strict conventions of behaviour were relaxed or even ignored; others, who were obese, elderly or diseased, came for the curative reputations of cold, salt sea-bathing and pungent spa waters, which one imbiber said “smelled like ink and tasted of acid”. A few came to find a suitable wife or husband. Yet whatever their purposes, they expected clean, safe streets, an abundance of rich food and fine wines, theatrical and literary entertainments, and upper-class living amenities.

But the “pretty sea-port” experience by Celia Fiennes offered none of these delights. Throughout the 1700s “polite” visitors frequently complained of “steep, dirty, smelly” streets “littered with garbage of fish and Cods Heads”. The foul stench of fish pervaded and prevailed everywhere. Streets were unpaved and unlit. Even the way to the sands and the Spa wells down a “toilsome cliff” required a “long fatiguing walk.” There were no walks or gardens where the “polite company” could walk, relax and congregate. And perhaps the most serious deficiency of all was a lack of sufficient, clean, accessible water. As William Hutton wrote as late as 1804, apart from “two miserable springs” at the Spa, in the town itself there were only “two dirty wells in the street, from which is drawn a miserable supply with a string and bucket.”

Even as late as 1760, Scarborough town was still confined physically within its medieval ditches, walls and gateways, at Newborough and Oldborough Bars. The old perimeter ditch ran along the top ends of what are now Tollergate, Auborough, Queen and St Thomas (then Tanner) Streets, cut across to North Street (Ropewalk) and, after Newborough Bar, southwards to St Nicholas Cliff. The only substantial buildings then outside this boundary were the Seamen’s Hospital (now the site of the fire station) and the Bull Inn, now the Balmoral site.

The first significant breakout from this straitjacket occurred during the late 1760s when the so-called New Buildings on the west side of St Nicholas Cliff were constructed. “Handsome and stately”, they were the earliest purpose-built seaside lodging houses in Britain. They consisted of a terrace of seven tall dwellings, each spacious enough to accommodate several families and their servants, since it contained two parlours, two dining rooms, six bedchambers, five attic rooms and a kitchen. At the back of each of them was stabling for eight horses and cover for three coaches; at the front there were superb views over gardens on the Cliff northwards to the castle and harbour (subsequently blocked a century later by the Grand Hotel). Near to the New Buildings were footpaths leading down to the sands and the Spa.

Next came Robert Harding’s private walk which by 1779 was fronted by Joseph Huntriss’s long row of terraced houses and had become a public road linking the Bull Inn just outside Newborough Bar with the New Buildings. By 1805 the Corporation had consented to pave Huntriss Row which by then consisted of two boarding and eight lodging houses. Scarborough was moving inland.

Thirdly, to escape the lower town’s fetid odours of the fish and flesh shambles, by the 1790s, for what Hinderwell called “a trifling annual subscription”, visitors were now able to take fresh air and exercise and mix socially in Mr Bean’s enclosed pleasure gardens - an amenity long enjoyed at other resorts before Scarborough. The gardens provided not only fresh fruit and vegetables in season but such exotic produce as peaches, figs and grapes, all on an extensive area to the west of Huntriss Row.

Finally, and most significantly, the 44 members of the borough’s Common Hall abandoned their old town hall on Sandside and went up the hill to Long Room Street (St Nicholas). There they leased one of the two Assembly Rooms (formerly Newstead’s) at an annual rent of £42 for 31 years. It seems that Scarborough’s centre of gravity had moved from Sandside and the old town and harbour to the new upper town; from fishing and seafaring to attracting, accommodating and amusing well-heeled visitors for the summer season, just as the oldest assembly rooms had gone up-town from Sandside and Princess Street some years earlier.

So, as usual, the borough’s unelected, self-perpetuating, self-interested oligarchy had been slow and reluctant to acknowledge changing realities. The improvements that had been carried out during the 1700s to meet the needs and convenience of seasonal visitors had been the product largely of the enterprise and investment of individual residents such as John Bland, Dicky Dickinson, Robert Harding, Joseph Huntriss and John Bean, not that of the Common Hall. Scarborough’s handicap was as much its governing body as its geographical location."


Captain Black's picture

All Weather Facilities

"Members of Scarborough's Civic Society along with former town planners have written to the borough council urging a rethink on the future use of the former Futurist Theatre site in the town.

In a letter published in the Civic Society's latest news letter the group of 'five local professionals' say that the site should be 'remarketed' so that interested parties could come forward with alternative plans for the site rather than the Flamingo Land resort plans currently under consideration..."

The Professionals...



"Since Rocket is a close relative to brassicas, it should not be grown on a site which has been used for brassicas until at least 2 years have passed."

Trollolol ;-))