Jean Christian, Scarborough retailer

Jean Christian
Jean Christian
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Jean Christian, who has died at 95, was one of the shopkeepers who helped turn Sandside in Scarborough’s Old Town into a retail destination for holidaymakers during the 1950s and 1960s.

Mrs Christian and her late husband Jack were among the first on the seafront to embrace post-war tourism, converting what had been a harbourside fruit and vegetable shop into a jewellery and “fancy goods” emporium catering for the holiday trade.

Although they retired more than 20 years ago, their shop at “Christian’s Corner” became such a popular destination for holidaymakers, many returning year after year, that it still trades in their name.

Jean Christian, nee Marvelley, was born in Sussex Street, Scarborough, on July 8 1922, and attended Gladstone Road School.

During the Second World War she worked with the architects building the Thorp Arch armaments factory near Wetherby, where, alongside the Home Guard, she learned how to roll beneath a tank and attach a “sticky bomb” to its underside.

In 1949 she married Jack and devoted her energies to the jewellery counter and to bringing up their son, Charles.

But she was also a leading light in the town’s creative community, having been a founder member of the Scarborough Writers’ Circle and an active member of the Phoenix drama group - in whose productions of A Letter from the General and Mr Pim Passes By, she took a leading role. Her first stage appearance had been as one of the babes in Mabs Dalgetty’s production of Babes in the Wood in the early 1930s.

In the 1960s she became involved with the Women’s Freemasonry movement and was a founder member of lodges in Scarborough and Bridlington. She remained active with the organisation until just a few years ago.

Following Jack’s death in 1994, she busied herself with local voluntary organisations, including the Talking Newspaper Association and the Scarborough Shoreline Club, which raises funds for the town’s lifeboat. In 2010 the RNLI awarded her a bronze badge for her services.

She died at a care home in South Norfolk on what would have been her 68th wedding anniversary.