History – The Scarborough Festival

Since 1876, with only the exception of war years, there has been a Cricket Festival played at Scarborough at the end of the first class season.

2014 will see the 128th Festival and attendances in recent years, especially 2011, have been excellent. There is still the relaxed holiday feel around the ground, including the band, and players and spectators alike love to take part.

The seeds of the Scarborough Festival had been sown at Castle Hill. Many of the visitors to Victorian Scarborough were both wealthy and cricket lovers and matches at Castle Hill could attract crowds in excess of 2000.

In 1875 Lord Londesborough agreed to sponsor a match between MCC and Yorkshire. The MCC side was put together by C.I. (Charles Inglis) Thornton, an MCC member and a regular visitor to Scarborough. MCC were enthusiastic which is not surprising as Sir Charles Legard Bt. was the MCC President in 1875 and a good friend of Lord Londesborough.

The following year, 1876, when Lord Londesborough himself became MCC President, the Cricket programme at Scarborough was extended to nine days and the main match was again MCC v Yorkshire with MCC managed by C.I.Thornton. This was the first Scarborough Festival.

In 1898 the Scarborough Mercury recalled: It was Lord Londesborough who made the Scarborough Festival possible. He brought here for many years the Gentlemen players and at his own expense entertained them. Those he was unable to entertain at Londesborough Lodge he provided for in hotels and even went as far as keeping a house in The Crescent especially for the use of Cricketers