Steve Crawford, 49, has been running Fluid Concept surf shop and school on the South Bay, teaching surfing and paddleboard for 12 years. Born in Scarborough, he moved away, including to Newquay where he found his passion for surfing, but returned here and realised the waves were better. The Scarborough representative for Surfers Against Sewage, he has lived with his partner Sue for 25 years, and they have “a very bouncy dog”.
At the surf shop I get lots of people who live in the cities coming over to surf. So these folks from Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and all around the North spend lots of time and effort driving over to Scarborough every chance they can get. One of the things they say to me most is how much they’d
love to live here.
I was one of the lucky ones who were born here, went away, then had the wisdom to come back. The charm of Scarborough is hard to define and is tied up as much in the diversity of its surroundings as in the town itself.
I was born at St Mary’s Hospital (where the bed would have been is now a parking space) and live only 200 metres from where I was born. I’m not sure if that’s laziness or good sense. I was brought up in a house next to North Cliff golf course, and broken windows, then cheques, for glazing were a regular occurrence.
My early memories are of Scalby Mills and the beck, walks across Jackson’s fields and finding fossils. I still remember early days pottering about on the rocks.
When I returned in 1987 I saw the town and beaches through fresh eyes. The rocks I played on as a child were now ignored for the amazing waves breaking on the rocks further out. I remember screeching to a halt after visiting my sister in Hunmanby as I drove past Cayton Bay. I saw an amazing wave breaking on Knipe Point. At that moment I knew that I was moving back to Scarborough from Newquay, the so-called capital of British surfing.
I’d come to realise that Newquay was more the ‘Hollywood’ idea of surfing whilst Scarborough and the North East coast were the real thing, largely unexplored and free from crowds and pretensions. Where Newquay had surf shorts and VW vans, Scarborough had thick coats and Morris Marinas.
When I first came back surfing was far less popular and opening a surf shop would have been almost impossible so I worked for the gardens department of the council for a while. In 2006 a friend, Mark Dickinson, asked if I’d like to join him to set up a shop on South Bay teaching surfing and selling his surfboards. I obviously said yes and I’ve never looked back.
The Yorkshire surfers were surly and pretty dismissive of a soft Southerner from Newquay. Undeterred, I happily surfed away until they realised I wasn’t going anywhere and was here to stay. That seems an age away when I look out at North or South bay with 50 to 100 surfers some weekends. These days Scarborough is treated with respect as one of the North’s best surfing areas.
As much as I love the sea and the waves I think the woods and moors lure as much as anything else.
One of the real unique things about Scarborough is whether you are walking, cycling or driving you can get to some very quiet, relatively unspoiled areas within half an hour. I love walking to Jackson’s Bay or Cornelian then a drive up to Reasty and Turkey Carpet (cool names). It’s easy to forget how lovely our area is.
One of my passions is keeping the beaches clean (I volunteer for Surfers Against Sewage and organise beach cleans). The thing that
really makes me angry is the waste left on our beaches after the busy tourist days on the beach. Why would these folks drive over, sit on a pretty beach then leave loads of mess to spoil it? The logic is beyond me and it’s why SAS and other organisations campaign so vigorously about it.
On the plus side we’ve gorgeous countryside, nature reserves, beaches and woods so we can turn our backs on the madness of summer and hide under some oak leaves until everyone heads back inland.
We crave the late warmth of autumn when the leaves are reddening and the roads are clearing. Happy walking and surfing, everyone. If it’s hot and there are no waves come down and see me. I’ll loan you a paddleboard and you can cruise the South Bay in style.