A little oasis for older people

Words and recent photo by Dave Barry

One of the nicest and most desirable places for older people to live in Scarborough is also one of the cheapest.

Wheelhouse Square, on Dean Road next to William Street coach park, is a gated community complex with attractive gardens.

Run by the Wheelhouse Charity Trust, it has 32 flats for a maximum of 36 residents who are either over 60 or retired.

At the moment, the youngest is 57 and the oldest is 96. All live independently.

Warden Tracy McKillop, who has lived there for nine years, says: “Everyone thinks they’re privately owned but they aren’t.

“Not a lot of people know about us apart from looking in through our gates to admire our gardens, which we have won a lot of awards for”, Tracy says.

The flats cost £220 a month for a single and £340 for a double. “We don’t call it rent, it’s contributions”, says Tracy, whose mum Shirley Crawford and mother-in-law Jean McKillop live there. Inevitably, the flats are almost always full.

Tracy and her husband Alan do most of the planting in the large gardens, where residents like to sit.

The complex has a community room where events such as bingo, coffee mornings, a bonfire night party, pie-and-mash suppers and Christmas parties are held.

On Saturday 7 July at 3pm, 80-90 people are expected to attend a garden party. They will include residents, guests and contractors who have all done a lot of work in keeping the place to a high standard. The deputy mayor, Cllr Dilys Cluer, will attend too.

Rowntrees constructed the original buildings in 1865 with money bequeathed by a London merchant who was born near Scarborough.

George Wheelhouse left £2,500 “to be expended by my trustees in erecting 43 dwellings for the poor of Scarborough, and in paying £1 10 shillings annually at Christmas to the occupiers”, according to his will.

Wheelhouse (1772-1864) became a distiller in Deptford, in south-east London. He didn’t marry but lived with a man, James Leask, and had a servant, Maria Wells.

The original building, opposite the workhouse, was demolished and replaced by the current buildings in 1968.