Remember Scarborough exhibition acquires rare 1914 bombardment cross

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:24 23 September 2014

Scarborough bombardment cross

Scarborough bombardment cross

© Tony Bartholomew

Scarborough celebrates a chance find at a local auction

Scarborough Museums Trust collections manager Jennifer Dunne with the crossScarborough Museums Trust collections manager Jennifer Dunne with the cross

Staff from Scarborough Art Gallery have bagged a bargain at an auction to boost their Remember Scarborough exhibition, commemorating the German bombardment of 1914 – the first effective attack on British soil by a foreign power in over 800 years.

They couldn’t believe their luck when they spotted a bombardment propaganda cross for sale at David Duggleby’s auction house and snapped it up for just £65.

Shortly after the 1914 bombardment, crosses with the names of the three towns attacked appeared: Hartlepools (East and West Hartlepool, conflated later in the 20th century to the singular Hartlepool), Scarboro and Whitby.

‘We couldn’t believe our luck when we spotted the cross in Duggleby’s sale,’ said Debbie Seymour, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust. ‘We just had to have it for the Scarborough Collections – it’s such an important part of the town’s history.’ On 16th December 1914, German warships fired hundreds of shells on Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool, an offensive which became known as ‘The Bombardment’. Hundreds died, and many were injured.

The deaths of so many innocents sparked an impassioned recruitment drive by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, and also led to other propaganda opportunities. For some time, an unknown person (who some have suggested may have been Gordon Selfridge, founder of the famous department store) had been producing spoof Iron Crosses bearing the names of cultural sites damaged by the German army to ridicule the enemy.

The Scarboro Cross is now on display as part of Remember Scarborough, which can be seen at Scarborough Art Gallery until January 4th. The gallery is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Monday (plus bank holidays). For further information, visit scarboroughmuseumstrust.org.uk.

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