The southern part of Scarborough became very popular in with the discovery of
Scarborough Spaw waters and thousands of visitors flocked to avail themselves of their medicinal qualities. The pre-cursor to the present Scarborough Spa building was also a further attraction.
Whilst being easily accessible by a short stroll along the South Bay seafront for those visitors to
Castle, Scarborough Harbour, and other established attractions nearer to the commercial centre there was quite a deep descent to the sea-front from the St. Nicholas Cliff area of the town.
In 1826 a new company, The Cliff Bridge Company, leased the Spa from the corporation and in order to maximise its commercial potential proceeded to erect an elegant iron footbridge to span the chasm of the valley from St Nicholas Cliff to the Spa. Towering some 75’ from the valley below and some 414’ long and 13.5’ wide.
The bridge provided an excellent promenade and wonderful views for those wishing to while away a few hours by the sea whilst also providing an excellent link to the towns more southerly attractions.
For such a huge undertaking the building proceeded at a pace that would put many modern contractors to shame and the bridge was formally opened on the 19th July 1827.
The opening of the bridge was indeed a major occasion as the crowds flocked to see.
Much pomp and ceremony as a mail coach and horses (a sailor balancing precariously atop the coach) gallop at full speed across the bridge.
The bridge proved so popular that a toll- booth was erected at the St. Nicholas Cliff end of the bridge.
For the holiday-maker or local, season tickets were available giving unlimited access to the bridge and Spa for one, two or four week periods.
The bridge continued, and indeed still continues to be a valuable link from St. Nicholas Cliff to the Spa and to the Holbeck area of town and in 1951 it was purchased by the corporation. The tollbooths were demolished the following year and the pay-boxes removed a year later.
The Spa Bridge still retains its Victorian spleandours and still gives its wonderful coastal views and dramatic drop to the valley below. For both aesthetic value and a reminder of the elegance of the Victorian era it should be included in any visitor’s exploration of Scarborough.