Your browser is not enabled to support scripts.
Yachts Moored in Scarborough
Bedwyn's Scarborough.
The Sands. North Bay, Scarborough.
Our latest brochures...
View or request our latest brochures
We're here to help...
Need advice on where to stay?
Call our team on 01723 383636
or email us - it's what we're here for!
Sign up to our email newsletter...
Sign up to receive our
latest news and offers!
Latest Events

Sky Rain Forest Trail

Come and experience the Sky Rain Forest Trail at Dalby Forest and learn all about rain forests and the creatures that live in the...  more...

Whitby Art Society

Whitby Art Society are holding their Annual Exhibition at the Pannett Art Gallery in Pannett Park, Whitby from 21st March to 5th ...  more...

Dinosaur Footprint Walk

Join us for a journey back to the time when dinosaurs roamed Scarborough. This 5 hour walk is our most strenuous trip, and all at...  more...

Easter National Scooter Rally

VFM present Easter National Scooter Rally Parts Fair & Custom Show. Set in the breathtaking splendour of the North York Moors. T...  more...

Fun Easter Trail

Come along at any time and use your map of The Moors National Park Centre grounds to locate the hidden eggs. Find all ten and a t...  more...

Shrove Tuesday – The ringing of the Pancake Bell

 

On Shrove Tuesday, in Scarborough, the South Bay foreshore is crowded with people for the skipping festival.

 

As long ago as 1853 townspeople gathered here to celebrate ‘Ball Day’ annually on Shrove Tuesday. It was one of the few public holidays when apprentices and servants could be sure of having at least half a day to enjoy themselves.

 

Until the turn of the century it was known as Ball Day. It was recorded in 1903 that ‘a few bairns were skipping near the lifeboat’ but by 1927 in a national publicity campaign it was acclaimed as ‘Scarborough’s Skipping Festival’.

 

At the end of the last century the South Foreshore on Shrove Tuesday was like a fairground. Stalls were arranged on the sea front which offered gingerbread, liquorice, coconuts, and similar delicacies, to all who wanted to buy.

 

A contemporary account relates that ‘Baskets and balls of various qualities and colours were prominent too and battledores and shuttlecocks were bought even by men and women. On this day grown up folks can skip and play without being thought childish. Everyone becomes something different from their usual selves on Shrove Tuesday’.

 

In those days, of course, there were no real traffic problems. The Foreshore Road between the Spa and Eastborough is now closed to traffic during the afternoon of Shrove Tuesday. The fact remains that from mid-day onwards there are likely to be thousands of ‘young’ people of all ages enjoying themselves along the seafront.

 

The other custom which is still retained at Scarborough is the ringing of the Pancake Bell. Over a century ago the bell used to hang in St Thomas’ Hospital which was then on a site in North Street.

 

It was used as a curfew signal at 6am and 6pm, before the days of the BBC time signals. On Shrove Tuesday, however, it was rung at noon as a signal to housewives to start frying the traditional pancakes.

 

With the demolition of the hospital the bell was removed to the Rotunda Museum in 1861 where it continued to be rung for the next 50 years. When age made it unsafe, a ship’s bell, presented to the Rotunda in 1979 to mark its 150th anniversary, was substituted. A new replica Pancake Bell was installed at 86 Newborough above what used to be the Next clothes shop in 1996.

 

The new Pancake Bell was provided by Scarborough Borough Council with the assistance of Tate and Lyle Sugars, Morrisons Stores and electricity supply nominees.

 

The only break in the tradition occurred during the war years of 1939-45 when bell ringing was prohibited. Now, it is always rung by the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor of the Borough of Scarborough.

For further information, please contact the Scarborough Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636.

Scarborough Borough Council website
Welcome to Yorkshire website