A favourite TV programme of mine is The Great Railway Journey series with Michael Portillo. I find them both interesting and so informative about the places he visits both in the UK and on the Continent. I recently watched an episode where he travelled to Scarborough and being Yorkshire born and bred I was particularly interested when he visited Grand Hotel in Scarborough. In recent years the hotel has had a chequered history for many reasons though things seem to have improved.
I hadn’t realised that the architect of the Grand Hotel, Scarborough was Cuthbert Brodrick FRIBA (1 December 1821 – 2 March 1905). Through my own interest in architecture I knew that he has designed Leeds Town Hall, The Leeds Corn Exchange and the Mechanics Institute among many others during his illustrious career.
Cuthbert Brodrick was born in the port of Hull the sixth son of ten children of John and Hannah Brodrick, his father was a middle class, well to do merchant and ship owner. Brodrick went to Kingston College in Hull and upon leaving he became articled to the Henry Francis Lockwood architectural practice. He was fortunate to experience a Grand tour travelling to France and Italy, which obviously influenced his design creativity, which can be seen in his later prestigious buildings.
I was particularly interested in the architectural themes he used for the Grand Hotel. The main shape of the building is in the shape of the letter ’V’ representing Queen Victoria the reining Monarch at the time, Aerial views of the hotel clearly show this iconic shape positioned on a high cliff overlooking the sea. The internal theme was that of the yearly calendar comprising of 12 Floors (months), 52 chimneys (weeks) and originally 365 bedrooms (days) though this configuration has changed over the years. With extra bathrooms, restaurants, ballrooms and service areas this must amount to a large amount of doors in this building, I am now interested in visiting the hotel again to check out the design of the doors, I’m sure the originals will be in a very grand style and in a large quantity.
When the hotel first opened the baths had two sets of taps allowing the guests to bathe in seawater as an alternative. Scarborough became a famous Spa town where the well to do spent their leisure time in rest and recuperation and also drank the spring waters health giving properties.
In 1870, Brodrick moved to France and retired in 1875 to spend time on his painting, which he exhibited and gardening. He later moved to Jersey to live with his niece where he designed, and planted a garden. Cuthbert died in Jersey on 2 March 1905, and is buried in St Martin's Churchyard.
He was revered Yorkshire architect and has left a wonderful legacy through the outstanding buildings in the area. There is a Wetherspoons pub called the ‘Cuthbert Brodrick’ opened in 2007 in Millennium Square Leeds, which is opposite another of his buildings, The Leeds City Museum.