Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Marine Rd W, Morecambe, LA4 4BU – Visit Now
From halcyon days to dilapidation and back again, Morecambe’s Midland Hotel hasn’t always enjoyed its place in the sun.
In the early 1930s, Morecambe underwent a renaissance. Gone was the former, waterfront ship-breakers yard and, in its place, public gardens and a luxury, open-air swimming complex sprang up. It wasn’t long before Morecambe had made a name for itself as Britain’s most modern and progressive resort, and it soon became the holiday destination of choice for successful businesspeople from across the north.
Entrusted in delivering the kind of modern architecture that would match the resort’s reputation was architect Oliver Hill. Familiar with the type of clientele that the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company wanted to attract to their new hotel, and self-proclaimed as being up to date with continental Europe’s latest architectural developments, Hill was an intelligent choice. In a letter, Hill suggested that the collaboration would be capable of producing “the first really modern hotel” in the country.
Morecambe’s decade in the sun came to a sad end during the Second World War
The art deco Midland Hotel, which first opened its doors on 12 July 1933, was built in the shape of a gleaming white, gently sweeping curve. The structure highlights its lineage from the modernist buildings on the continent, with the balance of clean lines and graceful curves reminiscent of the work of Finnish architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. In the centre of its near-symmetrical front façade is a drum-shaped entrance, which also contains the main staircase, crowned by two pot-bellied sea horses. Inside, the stairs wind their way up towards the bedrooms on the upper floors, with Eric Gill’s circular engraving, decorated with Neptune and Triton, mounted on the ceiling above.
The convex side of the hotel’s curve follows that of the promenade, and the bedrooms on this side enjoy panoramic views of Morecambe Bay and the hills of Cumbria. The windows on the other, concave side once looked over the now demolished Morecambe Promenade railway station, honouring the institution that funded the hotel.
Unfortunately, Morecambe’s decade in the sun came to an end during the Second World War, when the Midland became a makeshift hospital for the Royal Air Force. This was the beginning of the hotel’s fall into disrepair. After the war, it returned to its former use, yet over the years – despite a number of new owners, each with plans to restore it to its former glory – the hotel never achieved the same successes that it experienced in those early years. Finally, however, its luck changed when property developers Urban Splash became the new owners and undertook comprehensive restoration – of not only the hotel itself, but also the surrounding area. In 2008, after half a decade of work behind closed doors, the Midland reopened with all of the vigour of the 1930s, beginning what will, hopefully, become a new heyday.