How Scarborough’s Peasholm Park became a seaside oasis

It dates from a time when the simple pleasure of taking in an exotic garden – and with it a little of the atmosphere of a far-off land – was all it took to make a seaside holiday complete. And as these rarely-seen pictures from the archive show, Scarborough’s Peasholm Park has been delighting visitors ever since.
Scarborough, February 1947

Peasholme ParkScarborough, February 1947

Peasholme Park
Scarborough, February 1947 Peasholme Park

The 35-acre site on the North Bay had originally been part of the Crown Estate, on which a medieval manor house had stood.

By the beginning of the last century it was open land used for farming allotments and had become known as Tuckers Field. But the borough council decided that holidaymakers would be better served by a park with an artificial lake on which they could go boating.

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It was Harry Smith, the borough engineer, who conceived the idea of laying out the grounds in the then-popular Japanese style, and his team set about acquiring oriental statues, plants and shrubs, the latter from a local retired banker.

Scarborough, 26th August 1966
Peasholme Park.Scarborough, 26th August 1966
Peasholme Park.
Scarborough, 26th August 1966 Peasholme Park.

The official opening was exactly 108 years ago, and Peasholm Park became quickly established as one of the top attractions in Scarborough, and therefore Yorkshire.

In the interwar years, it played host to every major fete and gala, and terraced seating was installed to accommodate the crowds.

But it was the lake that was the centrepiece, and never more so than in 1927 when the first naval battle was reenacted there. It is a tradition that endures today, even though the recreations of the Battle of the River Plate in 1939, in which the German battleship Graf Spee was sunk in the Atlantic, sit incongruously against the Japanese backdrop.

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When foreign travel became a reality rather than a whim, Peasholm Park’s popularity declined, yet it remains, restored and revived, as a quiet oasis amidst the holiday hubbub.

Scarborough, 12th April 1968
Peasholme Park.Scarborough, 12th April 1968
Peasholme Park.
Scarborough, 12th April 1968 Peasholme Park.

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Peasholm Park , Scarborough, in the 1950sPeasholm Park , Scarborough, in the 1950s
Peasholm Park , Scarborough, in the 1950s

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