Monday, November 10, 2008
Scarborough Mon Amour
Scarborough seems to have survived the decline of the English seaside reasonably well. Although the drag of Eastborough is run down, and on our last trip rolling with drunks at sunday lunchtime, it's still mostly a handsome town with well-kept terraces and immaculate municipal gardens - a Harrogate-on-sea, almost. It's a town with real charm, and I love the place. Of course, I only ever photograph the faded bits.
Our family know Scarborough well - my auntie ran a guest house on Rutland Terrace near the castle. She'd gone to work there as a girl and eventually saved enough to buy it when her boss retired. Our first meal on our twice-yearly visits would always be fish and chips at aunties, with proper fish knives. The town has changed since then, but not by much. Down the hill at Peasholm park you can still see the Naval Warfare in summer. This is a battle with miniature warships on the park's lake. Nowadays it's the Royal Navy (crowd: "Hooray!") versus "The Enemy" ("booo!") - although back in the 70s and 80s, the "The Enemy" were very definately Germans, and the action was the Battle Of The River Plate. They have long memories in Scarborough. The reason the castle is such a wreck is because of an Imperial German Navy bombardment in 1914.
The Grand Hotel dominates the town from almost any view - it's that place at the top left of the photo above. Designed by Cuthbert Broderick (who also designed Leeds Town hall and Leeds Corn Exchange) it opened in 1867 and at the time was one of the largest hotels in the world, and stupendously posh. Its decline started after WW2 and nowadays caters for coach parties of blue-haired pensioners. On a recent visit, I was delighted to find this little hairdresser's - "Mr Julian's Coiffeur" - round the back of the Grand. It doesn't look to have changed much since the 60s. Apparently the shop is used as a set in gentle sunday evening drama 'The Royal'. Is it real? I hope so - the patina of age seems genuine with all that faded pink velvet.
Best of all is the sign in the window which reads "We Specialise in Real Hair Wigs, Top Knots Nylon and Real Hair Switches. All Available in any Shade. Ask for Mr Julian who will be delighted to show you a collection suitable to your wishes, with no obligation to buy"
and below it
"Hair 'Replacement' For Gentlemen. Mr Julian can offer a discreet and personal service for the above. Private cubicles available."
Surely this place is just too good to be true?