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Stories about Scarborough

Zachariah T Welburn

The original story:

Archaeologists digging at Norton near Malton found parts of a large stoneware jar. The site was near the old Malt Shovel Inn, latterly renamed the Cornucopia. Local historian Jim Halliday remembers that it was once owned by the Scarborough and Whitby Brewery Company. The Victorian jar seemed to be inscribed "Z.T. Welbuim, Scarborough , and "685". This turned out to be Zachariah T. Welburn . His business was founded in 1812 as a wine and spirit merchants. By 1896, it was known as Henry Welburn & co, by which time, the firm had expanded into grocery, provisions and "Italian goods of first rate quality”. They cured their own "old York hams”.

Their principal shop was at 55 Newborough and had been rebuilt with five stories. The frontage had "Welburn and Sons" inscribed in large letters at knee level, and "The Imperial Bottling Stores" in bold capitals below the attic windows. There were big stores, an office and ample cellars. The shop windows carried vast arrays of neatly stacked tinned goods. The wine department was a connoisseur's dream stocking everything from sauterne and champagne to choice Hungarian and Australian vintages .The spirit department fed the private homes of the wealthy and the dram shops of the poor, with whisky and gin. Here were rare liqueurs, such as Curacao and Noyeau .The ale department held "dinner ales, India pale ale, strong ales, stouts and porters; Welburns were sole agents for J. Tetley & sons, brewers of Leeds. Welburns' bonded warehouse was at St Helens Square and the firm had branches at 15 South Street on Southcliff, and at 27 Westborough. They claimed the "confidence and esteem of a large and fashionable clientele".


We have received the following information from a relative of Z T Welburn: "As a Welburn interested in genealogy, and being originally from the Scarborough area, I was interested in reading the artilce regarding Zachariah. Zachariah Tranmere Welburn was born in 1792 in Fylingdales, and in the 1851 census was resident at 55 Newborough, in Scarborough. His parents were John Welburn and Ann Tranmere. He died around 1859. Regards Robert Welburn."

The Society would welcome any further information about the firm. Please email us

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Falsgrave Well House Restored

Members of the Society in medieval costumeOn Saturday 22 October 2005 the Society joined the Friends of Falsgrave Park to celebrate the restoration of the historic well house in Falsgrave Park. Members of the Society in medieval costume lead a guided walk following the course of the water supply from Princess Square to the Park. Members of the Friends ‘dressed’ the well which was blessed by Rev Phil White. Brother John (Colin Barnes) read an eulogy.

More details

The Friends of Falsgrave Park obtained Local Heritage Initiative funding to restore the historic well house in Falsgrave park. The Society worked with the Friends to provide historical information about the structure and in the design of interpretative materials.

Falsgrave Well House, Scarborough

Falsgrave Park is very important in the development of Scarborough as in the 14th century the Franciscan Friars tapped the springs in this area to provide a supply of piped fresh water to the town. The present well house is a small stone structure with a stone roof. It probably dates from the 18th century.

We carried out an excavation here in 2001. The discovery of older stonework next to the well house suggests there was an earlier building on the site. No firm dating evidence was found, but it may have been the original well house.

Contributed by Chris Hall
Well House Image by Pat Taylor

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A plumassier - what's that?

A record of this unusual occupation was revealed in an archive recording session run by the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical society.
Mr. J. Downham's shop at 3 Regent Terrace was founded in 1864. The craftsman worked on ornamental feathers or plumes. At a time when fashionable society took regular holidays in Scarborough, the Prince of Wales feathers were on his letter heading. Mr. Downham's workshop cleaned, dyed, curled and mounted ostrich feathers for his elegant clientele, As a sideline, he cleaned kid gloves and kid boots. An old bill found in a bundle of papers charged four shillings for improving black feathers, two natural feathers, two long "hacks" and four "hack tips".
Contributed by John Rushton

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Historic South Cliff

For centuries, Scarborough South Cliff stretched beyond the sheep pasture of Ramsdale as great fields with names like Cockhill, Elriggs and the South Field, which ended at the Holbeck stream. Beyond was the isolated farm at Wheatcroft, near the remnant of some old fort called “Swarburgh”. The rest was common moors up to Weaponness. In the early 19th century, when the stage coaches British Queen, Express, Royal Mail and Wellington came along the king’s highway from Bridlington towards Blands Cliff, little stood out on the skyline, beyond Ramsdale cross except a windmill, and a house for curing herrings at Ramshill.

Change began when the Cliff Bridge was opened to connect the resort at upper Scarborough with the Spa in 1826. Filey showed the way, building a Crescent on its south cliff in 1840. The new Scarborough town council was selling land and some buyers asked John Gibson to plan and lay foundations for a South Cliff estate, above the Spa. The Crown Hotel and part of the Esplanade were complete by 1845, with streets behind. J. F. Sharpin gave the Crown good stabling, baths, billiard rooms, and suites with bed and sitting rooms. Within two years,there was a ballroom. Private marine villas were built nearby. It was all very select, the Kings of Belgium and Italy mingling with English royalty, separate from the hurly burley of Scarborough.The outdoor diversions were riding, carriage drives and a camera obscura. In 1845, the old town welcomed the railway and trippers came, pouring down Newborough like a mass of black ants to the beach. Southcliff drew breath, expanded a little, and stayed select. Oliver Sarony built his great Photographic gallery in 1857, just as Sir Joseph Paxton was developing the Spa as a music centre set amid garden grounds. Terrraced boarding and lodging houses multiplied. There was even a “New Brighton” on the Filey road, which was a bit cheeky. South Street became the first shopping centre and St Martin’s church was built in 1861.

Then came a flood of change. The Valley Bridge built in 1864 opened up South cliff. A great Congregational church rose the next year,its committee chaired by Sir Titus Salt, the “alpaca king”. St Martins School opened to welcome the sons of Anglican country gentry. Ramshill became the new social and shopping centre, with the South Cliff baths of 1876. and a new Methodist church. The south Cliff Tramway of 1876 gave a way down to a new Spa Hall and the new Aquarium of 1877. If the seventies brought the Prince of Wales, with his lady friends, Mrs Keppel and Lilly Langtry, they also pioneered the South Cliff architectural heritage. Here remain the great Terraces, a mass of Victorian architecture on the grand scale, hardly paralleled elsewhere in northern resorts.

The first Ramshill and South Cliff Festival took place from 1st to 7th August 2005, celebrating 160 years of history. A varied programme of events took place, involving local residents and traders in guided tours and poetry, dressing up and competitions, a church service, a barbecue and many more events. All were welcome to join in and find out more about the history of the area, its key buildings and people.

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Skeleton analysis findings now available

In September 1999 the Society carried out an excavation in Mulgrave Place, Scarborough. We recovered a single skeleton.

Mulgrave Place, Scarborough skeleton 

Palaeoecology Research Services Ltd have now carried out analysis of the skeleton for us, and their findings are quite exciting.


Bone analysis shows that the skeleton was that of a mature adult female aged over 46 years. Advancing age had probably contributed to mild joint deterioration in the spine and ribs.

Our woman was short in stature, petite and right-handed. There was little evidence of strong muscle build on the upper arms, often found in medieval skeletons. The woman did suffer from severe muscle trauma to one of the right shoulder ligaments, as well as less severe muscle strain to the bottom muscle and the muscles of the ankles. It seems she carried out tasks, which involved habitual squatting.

Four large cavities suggests her diet included sugar or was carbohydrate-rich, or that her oral hygiene was poor but it is thought the former was the cause as there was little plaque.

Teeth can tell us a lot about the development of a person. Here there is evidence of childhood deprivation between the ages of one and seven - malnutrition or serious illness. This led to the formation of lines of arrested growth in the dental enamel - her body was concentrating all its strength on survival, rather than on growth.

She had a minor congenital defect in the fusion of the breastbones. There may have been limitations to her breathing causing greater susceptibility to pneumonia, but there was no evidence of lung infection.

This woman suffered from four active dental abscesses at the time of death and probably a weakened immune system. The abscesses had drained pus into her mouth so they may have caused septicaemia and her death.

Thanks to Palaeoecology Research Services Ltd for carrying out the research and to The Local Heritage Initiative for funding it through the Scarborough Community Heritage Initiative

Contributed by Chris Hall, October 2004

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Important medieval woodcarving at Newcastle Packet

During the year (2003) Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group have been actively working in the town analysing historic buildings. The Society has been actively working with them.

Important new ideas are coming forward about The Newcastle Packet, Sandside

The present Newcastle Packet dates from about 1890 and is by the by the Scarborough Architect Frank Tugwell. It is a Listed Grade building because of a fragment of the timber frame of the medieval building which previously stood on this site being preserved within the west wall.

The Society carried out a measured survey in 1996 and over the last few months that survey has been enhanced by further survey and research carried out by YVBSG.

We knew that the timber frame was important due to the richly carved corner post and associated carvings. Recent research however (including contact with Dr Christa Grössinger of Manchester University) suggests that this fragment of timber frame is even more important than originally thought.

Drawing of carving on Newcastle Packet post

Carving such as this on a secular building is very valuable historically since most surviving carved timber is in churches - very little survives in secular buildings. There is a corner-post as richly carved as this on show in the big exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum at present (entitled: "Gothic: Art for England"), but otherwise it is thought there is very little of comparable quality anywhere.

There is a possibility that the carver who did the work was one of a group of Flemish wood-carvers who came to York to work on the central tower of the Minster c.1470. Apparently the subject matter of the carving is taken from an illustration by a German printmaker known as Master bxg - some of his prints were used by wood carvers at Ripon Minster in 1489.

Comparison of carving with 16 century playing card

Contributed by Chris Hall, February 2004
Illustrations provided by kind permission of Arnold Pacey, Independent Architectural Historian

There is more detail and information on this woodcarving in an article recently published in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal by Arnold Pacey. ("German Prints, Flemish Craftsmen, and Yorkshire Buildings-- A late medieval wood-carving in Scarborough - YAJ Volume 70, 2007 pp311 - 323").
The Society holds copies of the YAJ.
Chris Hall, Jan 2008

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Albert Strange & Mist

In 2009 John Hobson wrote:

"There has been an interesting development concerning "Mist" a 26’ canoe yacht designed in Scarborough by Albert Strange in 1906. About twelve years ago she sank on the Clyde, was later recovered and left on the deck of a "lighter" moored in a sea loch.

"Last week an elderly retired Royal Naval Captain, while walking his dog on the beach was surprised to discover Mist, apparently abandoned, propped up inside the hull of an old steel ships lifeboat just below the high water mark. Recognising this was the remains of a significant and distinguished classic yacht by Albert Strange he contacted the Albert Strange Association who in turn alerted their members of her perilous circumstances.

"Next week I will be heading north to assess her condition and report back to a small consortium who intend, if feasible, to purchase Mist and move her to a place of safety near Scarborough until a new owner with the resources to restore her can be found. Interestingly the consortium includes the renown boat designer Iain Oughtred, a possible descendant of the Ughtreds of Scarborough?

"In Scotland I am looking forward to meeting Mist’s saviour a local man, Jim Hill, who has made super human efforts to prevent her total destruction. He saved her from being scrapped and paid to have her lifted into the lifeboat to prevent her lying on her side which would have soon finished her off. He also had the presence of mind to remove the winch, portholes and other fittings attractive to thieves and vandals.

"We will have to arrange for a Motorcat to lift and carry the two and a half ton hull off the beach and onto a lorry kindly provided at cost by Anthony Tubbs of A.J.Tubbs Transport, Snainton who is keen to support the venture. Mist has survived 100 years, if she can last a couple more weeks we might save her, and regardless of condition she may well prove to be the focal point of next years Albert Strange Association AGM due to be held at Scarborough lighthouse courtesy of the Yacht Club."

Contributed by John Hobson

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