Restoration of South Cliff Gardens complete

On 1 April the single new council for North Yorkshire launched replacing Scarborough Borough Council and other local authorites in North Yorkshire.

To find your Councillor or to view minutes, meetings and agendas please visit the North Yorkshire Council website.
Tuesday, 28 March 2023
Picture of councillors and community and project representatives marking the completion of the restoration scheme in the Italian Gardens

The £7.158m scheme to restore the much-loved South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough, jointly funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, has been successfully completed.

The restoration, carried out over a period of 23 months, has triumphed in the preservation of the gardens’ unique heritage and improved them in a way that will reconnect them with today’s residents and visitors, in the same way the original gardens did more than one hundred years ago.

Work has included:

  • Restoration of 14 historical shelters including the preservation of the recently listed Tugwell shelter
  • An innovative new play area, which uses natural materials to blend into the landscape and reflect the gardens’ history e.g. the staggered design of the play tower reflects the original design of the Paxton Observation Tower, which was demolished in 1920. The play area is a part of the Clock Café family hub, which includes a chalet repurposed as accessible public toilets and changing facilities, and a wildflower meadow for nature play. This space will host a series of sculptures due to be commissioned in 2023
  • Construction and resurfacing of an accessible route through the gardens, from north to south, including the reopening of the access tunnel underneath the Spa cliff lift
  • Construction of a new operational depot, Beeforth’s Hive, to provide a base for the dedicated gardening team, facilities for volunteer gardeners and to act as a unique community space for local groups
  • Restoration of the listed Holbeck Clock Tower, one of the trickiest parts of the restoration. Once the lead roofing was removed, a series of structural issues were uncovered within the stonework, which required additional internal steel work, external pinning, strapping and additional listed building applications
  • Restoration of the Italian Gardens
  • Restoration of railings and Egyptian gates
  • New information and wayfinding signage to make the site more accessible and easier to navigate  
  • Restoration of both sets of Italianate Steps so that they once again provide a grand transition between the gardens and the promenade and Spa buildings.
  • Planting, biodiversity enhancements and work to open up historical views

We were successfully awarded a grant of £4,665,700 towards the cost of the project by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Community Fund as part of their Parks for People joint initiative, and we contributed £2,041,000. This was added to money generously raised by the local South Cliff community and ‘in kind’ contributions to complete the funding of the £7.158m project.

The restoration works have been carried out by Hull-based civil engineering company, PBS Construction Ltd.

Successful events and activities have already been held in the gardens, including live music and performance, nature and craft activities, guided walks and yoga. They will run from the Beeforth’s Hive community building during winter months and expand into the wider gardens as the weather improves.

Highlights coming up in 2023 include a talk by Simon Murgatroyd, the archivist for playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn, guided tours, an extensive variety of events and activities for people of all ages, and a major oral history project – Love Stories – inspired by the gardens in collaboration with ARCADE and Orchestras Live. More information is available from the South Cliff Gardens website.

Councillor Tony Randerson, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said:

"The restoration scheme is an absolute triumph of an ambitious vision, innovation and high quality skilled construction, all of which would never have been possible without the determination and collaboration of the South Cliff community.

"We couldn’t be more delighted with the final result.

"The scheme has achieved much more than just breathing new life into the gardens, it has made it a must visit destination for people all ages to enjoy, and created spaces and places that will bring the local and visiting communities together for many years to come."

Adrian Perry, Friends of South Cliff Gardens, said:

"When the Friends group started out back in 2006 we couldn’t have dreamed that we would be able to have our gardens looking so good. The standard of work is very high and should mean that it will be easier to maintain this high standard for many years to come so that residents and visitors can delight in our historic cliff garden.

"This has been a story of the community and council working together to ensure that Scarborough retains and values the best of Scarborough’s past and is in good shape for the future. It has been a long journey but the result is very rewarding."

David Auton, Chair of the South Cliff Community Group, said:

"Members of the South Cliff Community Group were instrumental in securing funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund by raising significant funds during a six week period in the summer of 2018.

"Together with pledges in kind they raised over £125,000. This enabled Lottery funding to be awarded which, together with other funds, totalled over £7m to enable the restoration and development of the South Cliff Gardens.

"Today we recognise that effort as works draw nearer to an end.

"This has been an extraordinary journey and sees the gardens restored to the heart of the community - to remain our legacy for future generations."

Helen Featherstone, Director England - North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

"Conserving our public parks is a high priority of the Heritage Fund as we're committed to promoting environmentally sustainable heritage that increases people’s health and wellbeing.

"I'm sure National Lottery players will be thrilled to know that money they have raised has helped restore South Cliff Gardens, creating an accessible space that local communities and visitors can enjoy for years to come."

National Lottery Heritage Fund and Community Fund logo