The Sands At Scarborough

On The South Bay Beach, 1952, Thurston Hopkins

At this point, WWII was in the books, and the era of photography had changed as well. More formal portraiture had made way for commonplace settings, examining the ordinary, such as these folks at the beach.

I can’t say that personally, I’ve ever seen people wearing winter clothes to a beach, much less a business suit. Even the children building sandcastles are wearing long-sleeved, button-down shirts. I guess the day was made more for being outdoors than for a brisk swim. I love these expressive matronly faces, but I also wonder if it was hard to procure sunglasses at the time. Surely, they could have used some!

In the background lies the luxury hotel called The Grand. When it opened in 1867, it was the largest hotel and the largest brick structure in all of Europe! Now, to the Americans, that’s ancient. But over there, I suppose 1867 was just a couple blinks ago–and it certainly doesn’t conjure up memories of a post-Civil War era for them.

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Myself, I don’t care for hotels–for the midnight slamming doors, kids running up and down halls, the thin walls, the questionable cleanliness (especially the bed quilts), the half-ply toilet paper, the items I have found on carpet, including both metal tacks and bullets at a certain Hyatt. But I can appreciate the architecture. And while this hotel has faced all kinds of health issues, from cases of gastroenteritis to Norwalk virus to dangerous levels of bleach in the water, the most interesting tidbit is as follows:

In September 2006, the management installed extra netting and spikes on the exterior of the building to deter nesting seagulls. The birds, which are regarded as a nuisance in parts of the town, had been disturbing guests with mating calls. Their droppings were also responsible for a significant proportion of the hotel’s cleaning expenses. (Scarborough Evening News)

22 thoughts on “The Sands At Scarborough”

  1. I spent many childhood summer vacation days shivering on the beach at Scarborough while wearing layers. We never stayed in that hotel – or any hotel in fact – as our family vacations were always spent in our touring caravan so we were usually parked somewhere in Yorkshire and then took the car or train into Scarborough for a day at the beach. And, inevitably, it was always way too chilly. I have, however, stayed in some seriously skeevy hotels in my time, especially back before the internet and search engines were available. I cannot say I have ever found bullets but those might actually have been more welcome than some of the things we found.

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    1. How neat that you went there! Why do people go there if it’s cold? Is it rarely hot enough to enjoy? Whenever I’m at the beach, all I can think about is being sunburned and getting heat stroke. So I can’t relate. Isn’t it strange what people will do in hotels?

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      1. Well British summers are very unpredictable. You can go through at least three seasons in a day. You can set out for the beach on a gloriously warm and sunny day and arrive to find grey skies and a downpour. We Brits are, therefore, pretty stoic when it comes to braving the weather and we learn from an early age to always have layers.

        And, yes, the stuff people clearly get up to in hotels is just juddersome but what strikes me as even worse is how slapdash and lackadaisical the room cleaning efforts are in a lot of places. I have stayed in some cheapo motels and found the rooms to be immaculate and then I have stayed in some high end hotels and found the sheets have not been changed and found let’s call them personal items in the bathroom.

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      2. Yes, I have found some used personal items as well. And it’s just like you say: some of the priciest places are the worst. We left a resort on our anniversary in the middle of the night because it was so disgusting and yet it’s always on the list of places to go.

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  2. Love this, how amazing you have that photo, it was my family’s holiday place for years, in fact I thought I saw my Auntie Nellie and my mum in the photo 😂😂 It could have been 😉 I used to take my son there when he was a nipper, he loved the Wrestling at the Spa, nothing like today’s Wrestling. But I do remember shivering through our summer holidays as Laura says I think it’s the wind off the North Sea, it can be hot sometimes but we have the English weather to cope with and the thing is we had nowhere else to go!😂😂

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    1. Thank you for sharing this! Are there times then where you would just see a sea of bodies in bikinis and swim trunks? What was wrestling at the spa? Did y’all have certain kinds of snacks when you were there?

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      1. The kids would be in trunks but I doubt the girls would be wearing bikinis until the 60s, but there was definitely never a sea of them 😂 My dad once rolled his trouser legs up 😂 The Spa was little theatre where they had Wrestling matches. Stars such as Mick McManus and Big Daddy, it was all a bit tame but made Saturday afternoon prime time for years. Mum took sandwiches and a flask of tea usually. 😂

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    1. I do like meeting people; I always chat up the folks in bars. I also wake up to the sound of a pin dropping (even with Ambien and earplugs), so that makes it harder. I did a week at the Luxor and one at the Circus Circus, and there was so much noise! I could hear the clanging of tokens down below from my bed!

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  3. That is a fine baroque building! Did you read the Wiki…very interesting architectural elements and history. I checked and rates are only about $30/night. Considered US 3 star facility. Once upon a time my job let me stay in some of the finest hotels all around the world. They were incredible, maybe a story time in the future. Now of course we stay at La Quinta because, well, dog friendly 😀 and retired.

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    1. $30 a night???? Even the Motel 6 is $70 a night and that’s where felons and pedophiles stay. How can that be possible? We usually pay about $120 a night for a standard run-of-the-mill hotel. And they always suck unless they have an omelet bar.

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      1. The best are simply beyond belief. A level of service that is almost scary in that it anticipates what you want/need before you even express your desire. Locations that are beautiful beyond description. Food…ok, quick story, one time at a certain Europe hotel, the F&B manager advised that the hotel’s hunter had shot a roebuck on the property that morning and asked how our group would like it prepared. I mumbled under my breath to my partner, “fry it and serve with ketchup” and he laughed/coughed his drink all over another dinner guest. I wasn’t always the suavest of guests.

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