A Dreary Spectacle

On this day in 1882, a letter was published in The Scarborough Mercury from a citizen who preferred to hide his identity. (It seems unlikely that a lady would portray Filey in, ahem, such a dim light.)

Filey in Darkness

Sir,—Your valuable articles about the price of gas, collected with great care from such a number of towns, have, I hope, been extensively read. We must feel grateful to you for your trouble in publishing such important information. Gas in Filey is 7s. per 1,000. The dreary spectacle which Filey presents every night after eleven o’clock is somewhat saddening, all for want of a few lighted gas lamps. Perhaps the exorbitant price of gas may be the cause. I wish I could induce you to stay one single night in Filey to witness the depth of gloom to which we are reduced. If you did, you would be thankful to return to your own well-lighted “Queen of watering places.” May I ask you to open your columns upon this topic, and pour some light upon the lethargic condition of the inhabitants, particularly upon the business portion in Filey. There must be thousands of pounds worth of valuable stock stored in Filey by drapers, grocers, clothiers, silversmiths, harness makers, hotel keepers, &c., yet with all this wealth our tradesmen lack the courage to vigorously protest against our streets being in darkness, and their property at the mercy of thieves, for which surely, if any shop was broken into and robbed, our Local Board could not be held blameless. The thieves could easily escape in the darkness. The lamplighter begins to put out the street lamps about half-past ten, which no doubt impresses the good people of Filey with the idea that it is time to slumber, which may increase that feeling of supineness to progress which appears to be so usual in the town. Indeed, I am afraid some night the local authorities will be found asleep in the board room; they sit so long at the meetings with closed doors, and we have no authentic reports as to what they are doing either for good or evil. The public and reporters are not allowed to hear the flow of eloquent speeches delivered in such an august assembly.  Intelligent persons must feel that the board loses caste by holding meetings which are closed to the public, taking into consideration the fact that they are public servants The Local Board must know of the darkened state of Filey during the night, and of the miserable gas and water that has been supplied, but the board apparently takes very little interest in matters pertaining to health. It is rumoured that a deputation of property owners is about to wait upon the Local Government Board respecting the local wants of Filey. This will be of importance to the interests of the place, as improvements might easily be made without great expense to the ratepayers. Filey, with due attention to the purification of the gas and water, together with other local improvements, would rank as one of the most cheerful health resorts in England.-I am, Sir &c.,


Local councilors are favourite whipping boys everywhere but in this instance, Filey’s chosen may have been “hoodwinked” unfairly, in part at least. At their meeting four months earlier, Mr. CAMMISH, in the chair, had owned up to receiving a letter from the Local Government Board, London, “complaining of the loose way the Filey Board managed their business and urging them to be more attentive in the future”. This slap on the collective wrist was reported in The Scarborough Mercury on the 4th August.

Today’s Image was chosen and deliberately jazzed up, to counteract the gloom above. It was taken just a few meters away from where the seal stranded five weeks ago. On my afternoon walk today I learned that the creature had been taken to Sea Life in Scarborough by the RSPCA officer and had recovered there from its ordeal. The neck wound had, thankfully, not been deep.

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