Hotels And Places Of Entertainment - Scarborough in World War Two

With the commencement of hostilities all places of entertainment closed down. The Floral Hall closed on 2 September, 1939 and the cinemas followed on the 4th although at the Odeon Cinema the Café remained open. The cinemas soon re-opened on 9 September, 1939 from 2pm till 9pm. The Olympia Ballroom opened on 16 September, 1939 but no one was allowed in without their gas masks. The Pavilion Hotel was the first in the provinces since the outbreak of the war to be granted an extension of the music and dancing licence from 11pm till midnight. This was granted by the Boro Magistrate on 29 September, 1939 due to the fact that the hotel had an air raid shelter which could accommodate the guests. On 2 October, 1939 at a meeting of the football committee at the Athletic Ground it was decided to suspend all games for the duration of the war. But, a new amateur club to be known as Scarborough United was formed with the object of keeping a representative local side going and providing inter-town matches as long as possible.

A novelty dish supper of Macon and Egg (yes that’s the right spelling Macon) was held at the Grand Hotel on 15 December, 1939 for the annual Hospital get-together. This new dish was made from mutton introduced as a substitute for bacon and it was considered quite edible. It became popular at J.L. Hopwood, Queen Street advertised it as the new mutton/bacon. In time most butchers and grocers stocked it. The Scarborough and District Licensed Victuallers Association held a Ball at the Grand Hotel on 24 January, 1940 for the troops. The proceeds went towards the Mayoresses Comfort Fund. Jack Elvidge and his Band played for the guests. Again on 31 January, 1940 the troops were entertained by the Air Raid wardens at a games contest and social evening at NALGO Camp. On 18 March, 1940 the Picture Houses reverted back to their former opening hours of 2pm till 10.15pm. A wartime venture was started on 16 October 1939 when a canteen and recreation room was opened each evening at Westborough Methodist Church for the troops. On 12 March, 1940 a YMCA Canteen was opened on the first floor of the Old Hospital on Friarsway for servicemen. Volunteers worked hard and changed the room into a comfortable and inviting place.

The Floral Hall closed again in the middle of June, 1940 and was taken over by the military. The Royal Marines were billeted there. It re-opened on 1 April, 1946. The 49th Royal Artillery were billeted at NALGO Camp and their officers were billeted at the Pavilion Hotel. These men spent their time filling sandbags for the barricades that were erected at various points in the town. On Shrove Tuesday the skipping was still to be seen on the Foreshore and the Pancake Bell was rung although the ringer only just to say touched it so as not to cause alarm to residents who might have thought the invasion had started. On 30 October, 1941 a Mobile Canteen was presented to the Scarborough Civil Defence Service by the District Regional Commissioner Mr J. Lawson. It had been a gift from the women of Southern Rhodesia to the Lord Mayor of London. The Spa which was closed for the duration became out of bounds and was surrounded by yards of barbed wire. It was taken over by the military and was not re-opened until the 1945 season.

All the town’s hotels, boarding houses and cafes were taken over as billets for the forces. The Initial Training Wing of the RAF were at the Grand Hotel for example. Later on during the war the hotel furniture that had been stored away for the duration was requisitioned and sent to furnish the billets of American troops. The Villa Esplanade, Dorchester, Southlands and the Red Lea hotels were turned over to house the Leeds Training College students. In all cases where the troops had been billeted there was vandalism done to the property. At one hotel 80 out of 130 wash basins had been smashed, telephone wires ripped out of the walls and electric fires pulled from their mountings. Most of the hotels etc., were de-requisitioned about 1946 but with the shortage of linen and soap they had a difficult job re-opening to the public. The Clifton Hotel which housed the Royal Marines stored its furniture at Tonk’s Repository on Seamer Road. It lost all of it when the place was burnt to the ground with incendiary bombs in 1941. The Clifton itself suffered blast and incendiary damage in the March raid.

All the beach bungalows were in military occupation. Londesborough Road Railway Station was taken over by the Army when war broke out and it was not until May, 1946 that British Railways regained control. A lot of restoration work was undertaken to get it ready for the rail traffic that commenced running on 8 June, 1946. The Football Ground was being prepared for its first opening on 15 July,1946. The Zylpha Hotel on Albion Road did not re-open until 4 April,1947. As a matter of interest the name Zylpha was given to the hotel by a former owner Charles Shaw. It was one of the ships he had served on as Chief Steward and was one of the first Q ships in the 1914/18 war. The North Cliff Golf Course was being re-laid in 1946 because during the war years the 18 and a half acres had been used for growing corn. At Shaw’s Garage in Royal Crescent Lane peanuts were stored throughout the war. An inspector used to call from time to time to check them. The owners were paid the grand sum of £10 per week. (The average wage at that time was £2 per week (£2.50p) )In October, 1944 after one year’s loan to the Army as a setting for the dress rehearsals for the D Day landings the Yorkshire Wolds were handed back to the farmers. It had made 10,000 acres of good tank training country.

The Lighthouse was allowed to come into use again at high tide as from 19 January, 1945.

From 20 February, 1945 the pleasure boats had been allowed to operate up to 2 and a half miles from the coast during daylight hours.

In June, 1945 one-way traffic came into force on Aberdeen Walk after having been inoperable for the war years. Also on 1 June, 1945 the traffic lights were again working.

The Castle re-opened to the public on 17 November, 1945 and the annual Fishermen v Firemen Charity Match was held for the first time since 1938 on Boxing Day 1945.

December, 1945 saw the closure of the YMCA canteen for the Forces at the South Cliff Congregational Church. As the troops moved out of their billets they often left behind very dangerous objects. At Swift’s Hotel. Blenheim Terrace two live Mills Bombs were found and at 132 North Marine Road five blast bombs were found in the garden of the house. These could have been dropped by the enemy. Under the floorboards of 15 Esplanade Gardens 80 rounds of rifle and 17 revolver ammo’ together with 2 anti-tank shells were discovered in the February of 1946.


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