Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Futurist Theatre: A Brief History

After almost 100 years the final curtain has fallen on Scarborough's Futurist Theatre - and this time it looks like there is no chance of an encore.

As the council reviews plans to replace The Futurist with a new up-to-date visitor attraction, we take a brief look at the history of the fifth largest theatre outside of London.

Catlins Arcadia


The site of the Futurist was first used for entertainment 1903 when Kiralfy's Arcadia Theatre opened. The name of the theatre was later changed to Catlin's Arcadia.

Kingscliffe Holiday Camp occupied the hillside behind Catlin's Arcadia adjacent to Bland's Cliff.

Kingscliffe Holiday Camp Scarborough


In July 1912 the Palladium Picture House was opened next door

Catlin's Arcadia & Palladium Picture House


In 1920 Catlin's Arcadia closed and was demolished to make way for The Futurist Cinema, designed by F. A. Tugwell.

The neighbouring Palladium was renamed the Arcadia and began to host live shows.

The Futurist Cinema 1930s


In 1957 the Cinema was converted for live theatre use by Captain Ritson who removed the former Cinema's organ pipes and constructed two staircases which descended to the new stage.

In 1959 the proscenium was widened.


In 1960 The Futurist was bought by theatrical producer and impresario, Robert Luff. Under his ownership the theatre became a popular venue for concerts, shows and summer seasons.

1964 The Beatles arrive at The Futurist Theatre in Scarborough
The Beatles arrive at The Futurist Theatre in 1964 
The Beatles' made their first visit to The Futurist Theatre on 11th December 1963 they returned on one subsequent occasion the following year on the 9th August.

Further extensions were made to the stage in the 60s to in order accommodate the famous Black and White Minstrels Show, which went on to be performed at the theatre to packed audiences for many years throughout the sixties and seventies.

The extension to the stage meant the closure of the adjacent Arcadia Theatre which then became a lounge.

The Futurist Theatre 1968
1968, before the addition of the infamous cladding
In 1968 the Futurist Theatre was redesigned by Cassidy, Farrington & Dennys and expanded to include a new and much larger stage over much of the site of the former Palladium Picture House next door.

Boxes were also added to either side of the proscenium - although bizarrely they have no view of the stage.

At this time the exterior was also radically altered with the theatre's original Italianate style glazed ceramic facade covered by the infamous yellow panels that are still in place today.


The Futurist was bought by Scarborough Council in 1985 and leased the theatre to Apollo Leisure Ltd (UK), who ran it until September 2002.


In 2002, Scarborough Borough Council leased the property to Brenda and Barrie Stead, who refurbished the theatre and cinema installing new projectors, DTS sound system and a new CinemaScope screen.

Since then, the couple have run the Futurist on a year to year basis, with subsidies from the local authority.


In 2009 The Futurist was added to the Theatres Trust Theatre Buildings At Risk Register as High risk

A £100,000 subsidy was agreed by Scarborough Borough Council in November 2009, securing the future of the theatre until at least the end of 2010.

Scarborough Council set up a ‘task group’, charged with examining options for the future and are asked to report their findings by autumn 2010.


In 2010 campaigners applied to English Heritage to have the Futurist added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest in an attempt to save it from closure.

Management and construction consultancy firm Knight Frank told the Futurist Task Group that financing the redevelopment of the Futurist complete with theatre would be ‘wasting taxpayers money on something which is not needed’.

The consultants suggested that the best alternative would be to include a casino, cinema, hotel or residential accommodation with car parking and a restaurant, although that the market would not be able to sustain such a development until at least 2012.

Theatre consultants on the other hand believed that the building's future relied instead on the introduction of a refreshed entertainment itinerary, but warned that the theatre was at risk from rival venues in the town.

The Futurist’s unusual configuration was highlighted as a potential problem when it came to attracting big shows however due to the theatre’s small stage and negligible wing space.

Scarborough Borough Council commissioned Sheffield based architects Studio Gedye, on behalf of the Futurist Task Group, to produce a 'concept and vision' for the Futurist site including the Theatre, King Street Car Park and associated land.

Artists impression by Studio Gedye shows restored facade with the yellow cladding removed.

The concept and vision was put together in order to give Councillors and the public a clear idea of how the site could be transformed and covered several potential scenarios. Options included retaining the Theatre’s facade and replacing the theatre with a new iconic seafront hotel and/or visitor attraction.

Artists Impression of New Iconic Sea Front Hotel
Artists Impression by Studio Gedye showing concept for a new 'Iconic Hotel'.


After completing an assessment of the building the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, decided not to list the Futurist Theatre. Campaigners fighting to save The Futurist Theatre lodged an appeal.


The Department of Culture announced it would be upholding the original decision not to list the Futurist Theatre.

An expert in renovating historical buildings removed some of the theatre’s infamous cladding for the first time in over 40 years in a bid to determine the condition of the building’s original frontage.

Initial findings reported that the original ceramic facade was in "reasonable condition" for its age and that there was no reason it could not be salvaged.


On 9th September 2013 Scarborough Council decided that the Futurist Theatre ‘was not sustainable’ and that development should be progressed on the site.

In November campaigners fighting to save The Futurist from closure presented Council leader Tom Fox with a petition of more than 4,000 signatures.

On 13th December, with no agreement being reached with the current leaseholder, the decision was taken to close the Futurist for a three month period from 5 January 2014, whilst seeking another operator for a year only. No operator was found.


The theatre was closed on 5th January 2014 and the site including the Futurist and surrounding shops is marketed for redevelopment.

Bids to develop the site were received from two bidders in 2014. One was dismissed although the other, from a mysterious ‘Bidder B’, was supported in principle by councillors.

Bidder B’s plans proposed demolishing the Theatre to make way for a major new tourist attraction including a 'Magical cave'.

In October 2014 the identity of ‘Bidder B’ was revealed as local theme park operator Flamingo Land. If passed the plans will see the construction of a new visitor attraction named ‘Flamingo Land Coast’.

Concepts of how the new attraction may look have been revealed by the council.

So what does the future hold for The Futurist? Will it be demolished? Will a new attraction change the skyline of Scarborough’s South Bay?

Share your thoughts & memories by commenting below.

Plus, if there's anything you think we should add - just shout up!

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Flamingo Land Revealed As Mystery Bidder Behind Futurist Redevelopment

Flamingo Land Coast Concept
Scarborough Council have revealed this week that the mystery bidder behind plans to redevelop The Futurist Theatre is none other than Flamingo Land.

The local theme park operator, who were recently voted best local family attraction by readers of Scarborough UK, have previously only ever been referred to as 'Bidder B'.

In partnership with Leeds based property and construction company, GMI Estates, Flamingo Land plan to demolish the century old theatre to replace it with a new visitor attraction named ‘Flamingo Land Coast’.

Made up of three distinct environments - 'Subterranean', 'Coastline' and 'Sky' - Flamingo Land Coast will feature an iconic glass roofed botanical gardens, roller coaster, 55 metre iconic lighthouse structure and Space Shot Tower, walk through aviary, sea view bar, restaurant and a new town square.

Until now both the identity and concepts of how the new attraction may look have been kept under wraps by the council. However following what the council describe as 'public concern about the credibility of bidder B' the decision was made to release this information into the public domain.

Flamingo Land Coast Illustration

The thinking behind such openness is that, by revealing the credibility of the mysterious 'Bidder B', detrimental rumours questioning the ability of the developer to deliver a first class visitor attraction on such a prominent site will be quashed.

It is also hoped that revealing the identity of Flamingo Land as the developer and sharing the concept drawings of 'Flamingo Land Coast' will help to raise public confidence in the council’s decision to progress negotiations.

Scarborough Borough Council Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Regeneration Cllr Derek Bastiman,

"We’re delighted that we've been able to announce Flamingo Land as the identity behind bidder B."

"The prominence of the proposed development site on Scarborough’s south bay seafront is an ideal match for such a popular and highly successful family entertainment brand and we are very confident that, in Flamingo Land, we have a partner with the ability to deliver and drive up public confidence in the project."

"It is important to stress however that the plans are very much in their infancy and there are many, many months of negotiations and formal processes to go through before construction can be guaranteed."

"What we do already have though is a very strong commitment and dedication from Flamingo Land’s team to work in partnership with us and GMI to progress this important project for the borough."

Flamingo Land boss Gordon Gibb said:

"Scarborough is my home town so it gives me great pleasure, both personally and on behalf of Flamingo Land Limited, to be associated with developing a major visitor attraction on the old Futurist site."

Deborah Doyle, Director of GMI Estates added:

“Scarborough Borough Council has been extremely positive about developing its tourism plans for the town and it has been a rewarding experience working with its team on this proposal. We look forward to a great working partnership with them in the future.”

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Scarborough UK Awards 2014: Winners Announced!

Scarborough UK Awards 2014

The wait is over! The winners of the Scarborough UK Awards 2014 have now been announced.

Back in June we asked readers of Scarborough UK to submit their nominations for the first ever Scarborough UK Awards. The call attracted almost 600 nominations, from which was drawn up a list featuring over 100 of Scarborough’s best businesses, attractions & individuals.

Interest in the finals surpassed all our expectations with almost 3,000 people from all across the world casting a total of more than 30,000 votes.

The votes have now been counted & verified and it is now time to reveal the deserved winner across all 13 categories.

The big winners this year were the hugely popular Eat Me Cafe and Scarborough Open Air Theatre who were both winners in two separate categories.

Eat Me Cafe were voted Best Cafe in Scarborough and also came top in for customer service. The Open Air Theatre was chosen by the majority of voters as Scarborough's Best Local Cultural Attraction and Best Local Entertainment Venue.

Peasholm Park also fared well, being voted Scarborough's Best Local Attraction as well as finishing second in the Best Local Family Attraction category behind Flamingo Land.

Scarborough's best restaurant was named as the ever popular Florios with the honours for best takeaway going to North Bay Fisheries on Columbus Ravine.

The Crown Spa Hotel was voted by our readers as Scarborough's best hotel, with Ox Pasture Hall taking the silver. And Blue Crush pipped the Tap & Spile to first place in the race to be named Scarborough's best bar.

Homebird House, Amelia's Chocolate & Clock Handyman all placed in the race to be named Best Local Independent Business but gold ultimately went to gift & gadget retailer Retro 36.

Last, but by no means least, Scarborough Armed Forces Day was voted Best Event of 2014 and, according to you, Scarborough's best band are The East Coast Vagabonds.

Many thanks to all of you who voted and massive congratulations to all our winners. For a full list of all the winners see the official Scarborough UK Awards Winners page here.

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Photos: Scarborough Surf Festival

Scarborough Surf Festival 2014
This weekend Scarborough welcomed the UK’s finest surfers as they competed in round three of the UK Pro Surf Tour.

The competition formed part of the fourth annual Scarborough Surf Festival which is the biggest Pro Surf UK event in the country.

As well as surfing, spectators also enjoyed freestyle mountain biking, live music, trade and food stalls, classic VW display and free surf lessons.

If you weren't lucky enough to join in the fun, check out the photos below to see just what you missed.


Scarborough Surf Festival 2014 from UK Pro Surf Tour on Vimeo.
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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Scarborough Cut Off as A64 Closes Completely Over Weekend

Road Closed Sign

Anyone hoping to make the most of what's tipped to be the hottest October on record with a trip to Scarborough this weekend, may be forced to reconsider.

The A64, which is the main route in and out of the town, will be closed completely by the Highways Agency at Rillington from 8pm on Friday until 6am on Monday.

The closure is to allow essential resurfacing work to take place as the current road surface is 'life expired' and is in need of replacing.

Those who are travelling to the coast will be diverted via the A169 to Pickering and then on to Scarborough via the A170.

On paper the diversion should only add around 10 minutes to journey times but with all traffic being diverted through several villages - including Snainton, Brompton and Ayton - in reality this could be considerably more.

On the plus side the resurfacing work will not only prolong the life of the carriageway, it will also provide a safer and smoother road surface, enhance the 'reflectivity' of road markings and help improve road safety.

Highways Agency project manager, Steven Wright, said:

"This work will provide a safer and smoother road surface along this section of the A64. This work has to take place over a weekend due to the depth of carriageway which needs to be resurfaced. If the work was carried out overnight the tarmac would not have sufficient time to cool before the road re-opened. We will also be able to carry out noisy operations during the day which will cause less disruption to residents."

"To minimise disruption to drivers we have carefully planned the work to take place outside of the summer holidays. The diversion route has been agreed with the local authority and has been used successfully for previous schemes in this area. We have also been in contact with local bus services advising them of the closure."

Following the closure further work will take place overnight, between 8pm and 6am with temporary traffic lights in operation. The work is due to be completed on 10 October.

For more information you can contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000. For details of the Bus Schedule during this time contact Coastliner on 01653 692 556 or by emailing enquire@​coastliner.​co.​uk

Main photo by The Local People Photo Archive on Flickr

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Scarborough 'Most Visited' Town by Aliens & Most at Risk of Alien Invasion

Just days after being named the UFO capital of Britain by a national newspaper, Scarborough has now been named in the 'Top 5 Towns Most Visited by Aliens' by UFO expert Nigel Watson.

Watson is the author of The UFO Investigations Manual and was asked by Metro Newspaper which towns in Britain had been visited most by extraterrestrials.

Watson reveals that Scarborough has a long history of unexplained occurrences and highlights one particular event from nineties saying:

"In the early 1990s there were numerous reports of mutilated dead animals, including cattle, sheep and foxes. Often their internal organs and brains were removed."

"The situation got so bad that a group of farmers armed with shotguns held a night-long vigil next to a fieldfitted with infrared cameras. Three times the cameras were triggered by motion sensors during the night, but nothing was seen or heard by the farmers."

"The next morning they found a dead lamb in the field it and it had a perfectly neat hole in its forehead through which its brain and spinal cord had been removed. The cameras recorded a small white cloud with a dark background nearby."

UFO Invasion Threat Map - Click to Enlarge.
On top of this we've also unearthed a story from 2012, which highlights Scarborough as the place most at risk of alien invasion outside London.

The study by the UFO Investigation and Research Unit suggests that there are a number of key hot-spots in the UK which could be the focus of future alien invasions.

The non-profit organisation collated the data by cross referencing UFO sightings with local military presence and Government infrastructure and used the findings to create a map of the towns and cities most at risk from alien invasion.

One of the factors considered was Scarborough proximity to RAF Fylingdales Phased Array Tracking Facility, which is the UK’s main defence against ballistic attack and is also responsible for detecting and tracking orbiting objects - including UFOs.

Main photo by Eric Leslie on Flickr

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Monday, 29 September 2014

WIN a Turtle Adoption Pack - Including Two Free Tickets to SEA LIFE!

Turtle Fest at Scarborough SEA LIFE Sactuary

To celebrate the launch of 'Turtle Fest' this October, Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary are giving readers of Scarborough UK the chance to WIN a Turtle Adoption Pack including Two Free Tickets to SEA LIFE!

The ‘Turtley Awesome’ event will run from Saturday 18th October until Sunday 2nd November at Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary and is included in the price of admission.

Visitors will enjoy turtle themed activities whilst helping to protect turtles for future generations - all whilst learning lots of cool turtle facts along the way!

Those who visit during Turtle Fest will be able to:

  • Meet some of nature’s most beautiful creatures.
  • Enjoy Turtle Talks and Feeding Demonstrations.
  • Enjoy Fun Turtle Arts & Crafts during your visit.
  • Take part in a Turtle Quiz Trail.

To find out more about Turtle Fest including opening times and entrance prices visit the Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary website.

Enter The Competition

The lucky winner will receive their very own Turtle Adoption Pack (worth £50.00) courtesy of Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary including:

  • A welcome letter
  • A glossy sea turtle booklet full of information on your adoption
  • A sea turtle photo wallet & photo of your chosen animal
  • A certificate to verify you've adopted a SEA LIFE Turtle
  • Updates about how SEA LIFE are helping Turtles
  • TWO complimentary tickets to visit SEA LIFE

Update 13/10/2014: Winner Drawn

This competition closed at midnight on Sunday 12 October.

The lucky winner is Peter Webster

Congratulations Peter, Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary will contact you directly to arrange your prize.

You can find more competitions here

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