There is much more to Scarborough than a fair and a famous song

Bet you don’t have a Holly-ood Plaza

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Scarborough feels like a two-bit backwater town, and it is. If, astonishingly, someone’s actually heard of Scarborough, it’s either because of the spa, the castle or the Simon and Garfunkel song. But you can’t insult Scarborough unless you’ve lived here (don’t worry, you’re not missing much). This is the truth about our patch of insignificance.


Everyone complains about never having anything to do in Scarborough, but it’s not true. For starters, we have one of the only theatres in-the-round in the country, favoured by famed playwright Alan Ayckbourn. Our literary festival, Books by the Beach, consistently pulls packed audiences for each author. Peasholm Park holds naval battles that can be heard all the way across town and that’s right next door to the Open Air Theatre (you’re guaranteed to know, or be, someone who went on a school trip to watch it being officially opened by the Queen).


Okay, it’s not fine dining but the height of childhood popularity was a birthday party at Florios, or the Tricolos loft if you wanted to prove your courage by eating in a dark room full of creepy puppets and stuffed animals. We do actually have some pretty decent restaurants, but being northern, we’re lucky enough to have the best-smelling bakery in the world, Cooplands. Even if you’re not buying anything, it’s impossible not to linger outside. The rest of you don’t know what you’re missing.

The rivalries…

Who thought building two schools next to each other would ever be a good idea? Yet that seems to happen a lot in Scarborough. It’s not too bad, until you’re sharing the same field and it starts snowing. Then all hell breaks loose as the Annual Snowball Fight begins. All those rules about not throwing ice? Yeah, nobody listens. If you’re outside, prepare to sustain some mild injuries.

…and the community

I won’t pretend everyone’s best friends but we do come together sometimes. Take the Save the Futurist Campaign. Despite looming threats of closure, Scarborough’s support keeps it standing. It was announced that two companies are offering free renovation work in an effort to save our cinema. Probably because we’re desperate for an alternative to the “Holly-ood Plaza”, as it’s affectionately known.

The beach

On the plus side, it’s fairly clean. There is an alarming difference in water quality between North and South Bay but luckily the only residents brave enough to go anywhere near the sea are surfers, the rest of us know it’s not worth the hypothermia.

Venturing onto the beach itself means risking a frisbee to the head or being trampled by a donkey. If you go through the arcades, take earplugs and a lot of loose change. Getting food – mostly chips, doughnuts, and ice cream – is a bad idea. Really. You think you can take on a seagull? Think again. They’re vicious and sneaky and won’t hesitate to steal something straight from your mouth. They will always win.

The hang-out spots

Back in the late 2000s, the go-to spot for all the cool kids was Hairy Bob’s skate park. Anybody that hung out there instantly commanded the utmost respect of everyone they knew. Now? Maybe it’s still popular with the young people, but who knows? The most important place though, the perennial favourite, is the fair. I seem to be the only person that’s never been. I don’t know where it comes from or what it’s like but I hear stories, mostly of people being sick or trying to bribe the ride attendants – I’m not really sure why people like it but apparently it’s a big deal.

It’s hard to appreciate Scarborough when you’re young and the most exciting thing you ever did was rent films from Blockbusters. Scarborough’s actually a great place to grow up, if nothing else it’ll give you the ambition to work hard so you can move out. I love to complain about it as much as anybody else that’s stuck here but honestly? I still kind of miss it when I’m away. I will always be from Scarborough and nothing can take that away from me.