In this week’s article, I will try to answer some further local history questions that readers have sent to the Advertiser’s office. Mrs S Richardson has asked if anything is known of the history of Carlton Lodge on Leeds Road, which served as a maternity hospital for many years, before becoming sheltered housing for elderly residents.
I believe that by the beginning of the last century, the land around the present Carlton Lodge was owned by Captain C Whitworth, a brewer who also owned the old Ship Inn in central Harrogate.
Much of this land was developed for residential use during the years after 1904, when the Raworth brothers developed the Whitehouse estate, building houses in Carlton and Norfolk Roads, and beyond.
When Captain Whitworth planned the laying out of the later Firs estate in 1939, his architect was Frank Tranmer, but I do not know if he had employed Tranmer during previous decades.
Carlton Lodge was the Harrogate home of Bradford merchant Charles Sykes, a former member of the Harrogate Town Council.
Mr Sykes was a philanthropist who was also a keen music lover, who attended the concerts given by the Harrogate Municipal Orchestra, which was one of this country’s top orchestras.
When Harrogate Council committed one of its worst acts of vandalism by abolishing the nationally acclaimed orchestra in 1930, Mr Sykes was devastated, and when his beloved wife died in November 1933, he decided to move back to Bradford, where he would not only be nearer to his business, but also to Bradford and Leeds’ fine tradition of orchestral music.
It seems that at the height of the depression, large houses were difficult to sell, and as Mr Sykes did not want the property for which he had so many happy memories, to become run-down and unloved, he decided to give it to Harrogate Borough Council.
In a letter published in the Harrogate Herald of August 15 1934, Mr Sykes wrote “ I cannot calmly resign myself to the idea of the house and grounds being empty and useless, so have arrived at the conclusion that they must be put to some practical use.
Therefore I shall have the pleasure in making a gift of them to the Corporation of Harrogate for the use of the public... I believe a branch library has been required in the Oatlands district for some years past, and perhaps the house could be used for that, and other purposes, and the garden could be converted into a garden of rest. These are only suggestions that occur to me - but the council could do, just whatever in their discretion, they thought best for the common good”.
Since Mr Sykes’ generous gift of Carlton Lodge in 1934, the building has indeed been dedicated to the public good, and has proved a lasting memorial to the memory of Mrs Sykes.
Unfortunately, I do not have any photographs of Carlton Lodge as it was when the Sykes lived there, nor when it became a maternity hospital.
However, I have a very nice drawing of the stables of the Hotel Majestic, which may be of interest to Advertiser reader Mrs. S. Saxton who has asked me for information on the premises in part occupied by the Harrogate Sea Cadet unit in 1968.
The premises were part of an enormous building that had originally been erected in 1899-1900 for Frederick Hotels’ Harrogate flagship, the Hotel Majestic.
Designed in a highly attractive arts and crafts style, with lots of exposed timbering and pebbledash, the Majestic stables soon found that more guests were arriving in automobiles than in horse drawn vehicles, so part of the stables were adapted for garage use, and by 1913, the Majestic garage was tenanted by Henry Johnson.
By 1950, the garage was run by Thackrey Brothers Motor Engineers, but ten years later the Central Garage Ltd had taken over. Various other businesses leased parts of the former stables, and by 1968, when, I am told, the Sea Cadets moved in, the contractor Walter Birch and Charles Walker of Parliament Street, occupied space there.
Today, Majestic stables would make magnificent converted apartments, but, alas, the whole complex was demolished in the 1970s to make way for developments on the conference centre site.