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George Rowntree

The Reminiscences of George Rowntree
1855 -1940

written during the winter of 1935-36



The history of the railway coming to Scarborough from York is before my time; so I will only note the coming of the Scarborough and Whitby line in 1885, built by a private company, with the owner of Raven Hall as the moving spirit. His wish was to develop Ravenscar. The origin of the name (if popular tradition may be credited) is due to a stone having been found with a Raven carved on it, an old stone, possibly dating back to the time when the Danes had a settlement there. A quantity of alum was found in the cliffs. It was difficult to find means of transit to any market; a jetty was built, but was no good, and the railway was1ess costly in the making that it was eventually sold to the N.E.R. Co. The line provided the passenger with the most beautiful views of sea, hills and dales. There is now a well-appointed Hotel, which is served by the Motors and Buses of to-day. The railway does but little.

With regard to the York-to-Scarborough line, there is a well-founded store of the first man who had charge of the gates on the leve1 crossing at Seamer Station. The last train was due at 8-30 ; the man waited till nine o'clock; still no train ; so he left the gates locked across the railway lines. When the man was a mile away, nearly home, he heard the train coming and a crash on the lines. He was so terrified that be never went back to the gates, not even to get his wages.

However, the train had kept to the rails and not much harm was done.

An interesting pamphlet by Mr. Knowles, Woodend, The Crescent, issued in 1844, written in opposition to railways being made, states that "Scarborough is but a small town, which, for eight months of the year, is served by one coach ; the mail coach does the work, and during winter is very often not half filled-the only saving being two hours time, which I cannot think would induce additional persons to come from York to Scarborough." However, Mr. Hudson went forward, and at a meeting held at York Station, Tanner Row, a resolution was moved by Mr. Rowntree, 1840 (circa), and carried. This Mr. Rowntree was the father of the Joseph Rowntree whorn we know as the founder of the Cocoa Works.

After the railway came the bicycle. I learned to ride on a wooden boneshaker: then I rode a "pennyfarthing", (large wheel in front, 50-54inches diameter; small wheel behind) , and later the modern cycle, which was called "the safety" in its early days.

After the cycles came the motor cars. Early in this century, a party of Friends engaged a motor charabane to go to the Monthly Meeting at Malton. Friends have 'the reputation of being cool and collected, but the high road to Malton was too much for the nerves of some. One small boy only, enjoyed every minute of the time. "Now, Mrs. Cross, here's another," shouts my nephew, and, sure enough, there was "another," as the two horses drawing a wagon stopped, hinnied and stood on their hind legs; the wagoner's remarks were not reported to the Monthly Meeting. The wonder was that no accident occurred.

Some of our Friends preferred returning by a safer conveyance, N.E.R. third class.

A party of Adult scholars come up to Riseborough in two of the first motor buses that ran in Scarborough. Next morning a lady called to ask me to draw up a petition to the Town Council, forbidding motor cars or buses coming on to the South Cliff. The value of the properties would suffer and all the best people would leave the town, &c., &c. "Why, only last night someone on the South Cliff had a party and brought his guests up and down past my house in motor buses.", I listened patiently and then told her that the party was at Riseborough and that I was the sinner. Thirty years have passed since then and she still uses the buses.

Sunday afternoon, full length in the garden at Riseborough, was delightful throughout the summer, with no sound louder than the skylark ; and then, one Sunday, I told Granny, "We shall never have quiet at Riseborough ; eleven motor cars have passed along Filey Road to-day." , The total number passing along Filey Road in August 1935 was over 6,000 per day.

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