"About 1626 Mrs 'Tomyzin' or 'Thomasin' Farrer, a woman of substance and wife of one of Scarborough's leading citizens, John Farrer, several times Bailiff of the town, discovered natural springs bubbling out beneath the cliff to the south of the town. These waters, which stained the rocks a russet colour, tasted slightly bitter and cured minor ailments. She told her neighbours and friends about the beneficial effects and soon drinking the waters became the accepted medicine for Scarborough's townspeople. If further proof were needed, they were said to have cured scurvy suffered by the weakened garrison of the besieged Castle in the civil War.
The medical profession analysed the mineral waters and found a high content of magnesium sulphate, its healing properties certainly as effective as Andrews Liver Salts. Dr Robert Wittie, the principal advocate of the mineral waters, published several books proclaiming the waters as a cure for all ills. Other doctors refuted these claims. Possibly on the basis that all publicity is good publicity, Scarborough developed as a fashionable spa town patronised by the gentry and aristocracy.
The age of tourism began with Dicky Dickinson, a man of little charm but far-sighted enterprise. Self-styled governor of the Spa, Dicky rented the site from the Corporation and about 1700 built the first spaw house and two conveniences, one for the ladies and 'another house for the Gent'. He was responsible for preserving order and collecting subscriptions from its patrons, some of which went to pay the poor widows who dispensed the waters from the newly built cistern.
These simple buildings and the mineral springs were buried by a massive landslide in 1737 but fortunately the springs were quickly located and new, better buildings were constructed. Throughout the following century the reputation and popularity of the resort continued to grow.
Such was its appeal that in 1826 the Cliff Bridge Company was formed to erect an ornate iron bridge across the valley, giving easier access from the cliff and the town where elegant hotels and Georgian lodging houses were being more and more heavily patronised. The Corporation granted the company a lease of the Spa grounds for the term of 200 years and although the taking of the waters tended to decline in popularity during the 19th century, the Spa's reputation few as a fashionable place of entertainment and relaxation. During its Victoria heyday, it was considered the most popular music hall venue outside London. The first orchestra appeared in the 1830s. Henry Wyatt's 'Gothic Saloon' of 1839 was enlarged to seat 500 in 1847. Sir Joseph Paxton, designer of the Crystal Palace, added a Concert Hall in 1858. This was gutted by fire in 1876 and the existing Grand Hall, Theatre and Buffet came into use in 1879. The Ballroom was built in 1925 and enlarged in the early 1960s. The pump room finally closed in 1939.
Escalating costs of repair and maintenance to the rambling buildings and the eleven acres of grounds forced the Spa Company into liquidation in 1957; the Corporation took back the lease and began the long task of rehabilitation and development. After two seasons of Eugene Pini and his Orchestra, Max Jaffa arrived in 1960 and stayed until 1986; steadily increasing his own and the Spa's reputation and decrying those who said that good music was dead. The delightful Victoria theatre, on whose stage many famous thespians have trod, was completely renovated in 1972. A massive programme of building renovation in the 1980s successfully combined the restoration of the buildings to their former glory with the development of the Conference and Entertainment Complex of today."
Extract taken from discoveryorkshirecoast.com
Original Spa building opended in 1700s
Original building replaced 1739 after storm damage
Gothic saloon built 1839 seating 500 people
1858 Paxton building opened seating 2000 people
1876 major fire destroys Grand Hall