STARBECK NOSTALGIA with Starbeck historian Stephen Abbott

THIS week's picture is dated 1928 and shows a similar almost unchanged view of the High Street from the Prince of Wales to the railway crossing.

When compared with that which we see today, the first thing we notice is how little the High street has changed over the years.

With the exception of Lockwood's second hand furniture store being replaced by the motorcycle showroom and the end of Old Beck Street poking out trom behind what is now the opticians, the photograph could almost have been shot last week.

What makes this picture interesting, and different from those I have shared with you before, is that this is the first one that shows the Prince of Wales.

'The Prince' whose opening during the first half of the 19th century coincided with the refurbishment of the Starbeck/Knaresborough Old Spa, was one of three Starbeck Hotels, the other two being the earlier Star Inn (original, not the present 1904 rebuilding), and the later Harrogate Hotel, now the Henry Peacock, which opened in 1848 along with the first phase of the railway line which opened throughout in 1849.

Originally known as The Spaw Inn, (spaw being one of the 18th and early 19th century spellings of Spa), early trade was based around those who came from afar to visit, drink and bathe in the Starbeck waters.

Following the closure of the Old Spa in 1890 and a dramatic shift in medical practice following the scientific advances of the early 20th century, spa treatments seemed to drop right out of fashion.

The heyday of not only Starbeck's spa industry, but that of Harrogate too, was by the time this picture was taken, all but over.

The Prince of Wales did for a time continue in the role of a small hotel, but gradually the emphasis of its business became more and more that of a traditional public house. It remains unchanged in that form to the present day.

An interesting feature of this picture is the Harrogate Grand Opera House billboard which spans the wall between the lounge bar of the pub and the entrance leading to the old stables.

This billboard is regrettably long gone, but I couldn't resist the temptation to blow up the picture on my computer to see what was on in 1928. It seems the Grand Opera House (now the Harrogate Theatre) was showing the smash Broadway musical 'Fair and Warmer', which was written in 1915 by the legendary Broadway and Hollywood writer Avery Hopgood.

Perhaps those performances were something of a tribute to the renowned writer as 1928 was also the year of his death.

I know I'm going to get mail about this, so with that in mind let me explain beforehand that the musical 'Fair and Warmer' should not be confused with the 1935 play 'Twenty Million Sweethearts' which featured a song called Fair and Warmer.