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Review: Scunthorpe

City/Town/Region/Island

United Kingdom

Not an obvious choice for tourists

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2206 reviews

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  • 2014
  • Family including children under 16

27 people found this review helpful

Scunthorpe is a steel town and a bit of a musical hall joke. Tourist don’t come here unless they have a very good reason. When Trust House Forte took over a local hotel many years ago, they tried hard to market Scunthorpe as a base for holidays with places like Lincoln, York, Hull, Sheffield and Leeds close to it. It didn’t succeed and the visitors didn’t come.

However, there is more to Scunthorpe than meets the eye, so this is written for those who may be in the area and wonder what there is to do and see.

Although the steel works is now a shadow of its former self, it is still the largest steel processing centre in the UK and but still dominates the west of the town with its blast furnaces affectionately know as Annie, Vickie, Mary and Bess, the four queens. The Appleby Frodingham Preserved Railway Society run steam trips around the steel works, taking visitors into the heart of a working steel works.

Scunthorpe grew from five small villages, Scunthorpe, Frodingham, Crosby, Brumby and Ashby. St Lawrence’s Church in Frodingham is the oldest church in Scunthorpe.

Local landowner Rowland Winn discovered iron ore in the area and this lead to the development of the first iron works in the area. The population grew rapidly and the villages gradually merged into one. Winn was responsible for building houses for this workers and rows of these can still be seen off the bottom end of Rowland Road. Froddingam School, enlarged by him, is still in use. He campaigned for a railway to be built and was also responsible for building the splendid Victorian Gothic church of St John’s. Now no longer used, this is now a Visual Arts Centre. The exhibitions attract people from the area, but we find they are a bit too ‘pretentious’ for us, but it does have a good cafe, popular with local ‘oldies’.

The other important family name is that of the Sheffields. They lived at Normanby Hall before moving to Sutton House in Yorkshire. They leased the hall to Scunthorpe council on a 99 year peppercorn lease for the benefit of the people. Normanby Hall Country Park with its farming museum and restored Victorian garden is now enjoyed by locals and visitors to the area.

North Lincolnshire Museum has a good section covering the archaeology of the area from stone age axe heads, the Appleby log boat and complete mosaics from a Roman Villa at Winterton. The social history section includes a reconstructed iron workers cottage, popular with the kids. Surprising, there is very little on the local iron and steel industry, the reason Scunthorpe exists today. Don’t bother with the cafe. If you are wanting a meal, the Bluebell, a Weatherspoons pub is just a few minutes walk down the road.

For those wanting a bit of culture there is the Plowright Theatre named after Joan Plowright who was born in nearby Brigg, and the Baths Hall. There is also the Vue Cinema.

There is a professional football team, but don’t get excited.

Scunthorpe has often been called the “Industrial Garden Town” and we are lucky with the amount of green space and parks around the town. Before the development of Glanford Park football stadium with large Tesco opposite, the A18 brought you into Scunthope past the award winning Kingsway Gardens and Central Park with grassland and mature trees. It has an excellent children’s play area, is popular with dog walkers and hosts a 5km weekly run.

Having grown from the five villages, Scunthorpe is unusual as it has two shopping areas, Scunthorpe and Ashby. Ashby is the smaller but has managed to maintain many locally run shops. Scunthorpe has suffered badly since the credit crunch a few years ago. There are many empty shops, even in the two new shopping precincts. The top end of High Street is mainly cheap cafes and credit union shops. There is little to attract the shoppers who head for the out of town retail parks.

We have lived in Scunthorpe for over forty years. It wouldn’t be my choice of places to live but it does have the advantage of very cheap housing – youngsters can afford to buy a house here. The downside is, that you can’t afford to move out! Cost of living is cheap and we don’t have traffic jams. Some of England’s best countryside is only a short drive away with the Peak District, Yorkshire dales and Wolds and on a tamer scale the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Another claim to fame is that it is close to the epicentre near Louth, of one of the largest earthquakes experienced in the British Isles in 2008, with a magnitude of 5.2. Significant shocks were felt in Scunthorpe and the surrounding North Lincolnshire area.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 5 Comment(s)

  • coolonespa
    over 5 years ago
    Interesting overview of your home town & well suited to the topic on the forum proclaiming "Isn't the UK interesting".
  • ESW
    almost 6 years ago
    Thanks for the link - do tell me how did you get it as a clickable link. I've not worked that out yet.

    I loved your review - it really captures the essence of Middlesborough and its surrounding area. Let's start a trend for more reviews like this.
  • amelroy
    almost 6 years ago
    Middlesbrough (& Cleveland)

    Hope that's worked Eleanor.
  • ESW
    almost 6 years ago
    Thank you for your comments which I appreciate. We so often ignore what is on our own doorstep. Do give us the link to your review, I'd like to read it.
  • amelroy
    almost 6 years ago
    What an excellent and commonsense idea to review your own town. And a great and entertaining write up. They do say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. So I hope you'll feel complimented rather than irritated Eleanor that I've followed your example and done a write-up of my own town.

    With thanks.