Yorkshire Holidays

Christine Leveridge was again our speaker on Saturday 6th April. A proud Dewsbury lass, historian and avid collector of picture postcards, she uses them to
transport her audience back in time to study events which have caught her attention. Her talk today was inspired by the scenes of many of her own childhood
family holidays at the seaside on the East coast of Yorkshire at Whitby, Scarborough, Bridlington and surrounding areas.
Her extensive postcard collection includes many from the “Golden Age” of postcards in the early 1900s and Christine was often able to contrast those
with the same view in more modern postcards or photos she had taken herself. Anne Bronte’s gravestone at St Mary’s, Scarborough looked pristine in an
early postcard yet is hardly legible today. Some things never change and her 100 year old photographs of donkeys on the sands could have been taken yesterday.
The Yorkshire seaside was a very busy place before the Great War and photographers like JTR Ross captured many aspects of life in the towns
reflecting what the holiday makers were seeing for themselves. In Whitby we were treated to pictures of fish stalls, hawkers, town crier “John the bell man”,
a monster shark, the 199 steps, West Cliffe promenade which required the visitor to pay an entrance fee at the turnstiles and bathing huts owned by the
unusually named Thomas Argument. Christine took us to Bridlington where we saw the Spa Theatre having burned down in 1906. Rebuilt, it is still there today.
The harbour, busy with holiday makers, was also the location for boat trips, still popular today, but once aboard the paddle steamer “Frenchman” or even “Yorkshire Belle”
in the 1930s.We learned that the image in the postcard was not always what it seemed. A group of happy, smiling, well dressed men in Bridlington were pictured
apparently holding their recently caught fish. Photographers were not averse to handing out fish as props, a practice which continued into more modern times.
Our holiday on the coast also took in old picture postcards of Flamborough, Filey, Runswick Bay, Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes. Finally, A more sombre
note was struck by Christine’s collection of postcards produced after the 1914 bombardment of Scarborough, West Hartlepool, Hartlepool and Whitby by
two warships of the German High Seas Fleet. Over one hundred civilians lost their lives and we saw the considerable damage done to postcard landmarks
like Scarborough Castle, the Grand Hotel and Whitby Abbey. Postcards show that this attack on civilians was used to inspire new volunteers for the armed
services, answering the call to “Remember Scarborough”.

report by David Scrimgeour, mem 1397

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