Monday, 13 June 2016

Musing In Morecambe

Wednesday 1 June 2016. We decide the day is too nice to stay in and drive up to Lancaster first for a look round the antiques warehouse. I come away with a plastic bag full of postcards, mainly from the 1990s but a full bag for a couple of pounds still seems like a bargain!

There are one or two interesting ones amongst them and there was also a few bits of ephemera - newspaper cuttings, bags from foreign postcard shops and an old paper bag from a Ministry of Public Buildings and Works souvenir shop. It carried an advert for a season ticket to ancient monuments for just fifteen shillings (75p) - sounds a bargain to me!

Then we went on to Morecambe where, bless them, there is still free parking to be found on the Promenade. It was a busy old day though - we didn't find our space on the first pass, but spotted it on the other side of the road and had to turn to come back to it.

Morecambe always got the brunt of the variety comedians even during the heyday of seaside resort holidays. It doesn't deserve it really, because here you will find much less of the dilapidation and neglect that is all too horribly visible in other resorts. Morecambe have worked extremely hard over the last decade or two. Whilst many Promenade properties are now shops with no connection to the holiday or tourist trade, they have saved the seafront from degrading to a peeling-paint shabby look.

This bit of land is what is left after the tidy up following the closure of the open air swimming pool. It's perhaps not ideal, but it's far from hideous. A spot of landscaping and the additions of some flower beds and seating in the concrete space in the middle distance would make it a very nice space.

The War Memorial is unusual in that it dates the First World War to 1914-1919. Most memorials date it as 1914-1918. Built in 1921, it commemorates 216 men from Morecambe and Heysham who died in World War One; 180 from World War Two and one more who died during the Korean War.

The Midland Hotel is Morecambe's Art Deco masterpiece. Designed by architect Oliver Hill, it was built in 1933 on the site of a previous hotel, the North Western Hotel of 1848 which had changed its name to The Midland in 1871. It has two three-storey curved wings off a central circular tower which contains the entrance and a spiral staircase.

Two Art Deco sculptures of seahorses sit at the top of the circular tower. These, a round plaster relief of Neptune and Triton on the ceiling of the spiral staircase, a map of the north west coast from Whitehaven to Birkenhead and a bas-relief mural of Odysseus welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa which formed a backdrop to the Reception desk, were all designed by Eric Gill. As a nice aside, he is the one whose name is remembered in the name of the font he designed: Gill Sans.

Birds play a significant role in the decoration of Morecambe's Promenade. You will find many examples of bird sculptures along the Promenade paths, in seafront gardens and in railings and stand alone sculptures. This cormorant is one of many, sitting atop the finials of bollards.

Trains still run to Morecambe, but these days they stop some 400 metres from this station building whose platforms have been demolished and whose ticket hall and waiting rooms now house a pub and restaurant and where today we found sequence dancing offered as a diversion to the seafront attractions. Where the platforms used to be is a new market hall and a cinema.

Brucciani's famous ice cream parlour opened its doors in 1939 and four generations of the family have managed it since then. It is another example of Art Deco - all geometric wooden panels, formica tables which evoke memories of the Forties and Fifties and with a traditional menu including knickerbocker glory - the monster ice cream dish of the connoisseur (and large appetite...)

We had a lovely lunch here just off the seafront at The Grove cafe bar and restaurant. The food was good as was the service and I imagine that we shall enter their door again at some time in the future.

Having fed the inner man, my appetite was for having a good rummage and just north of the restaurant and back on the seafront we found one of my favourite places in Morecambe. A bookshop where browsers are requested to switch off their mobile phones and where there are many alcoves just like this one, each containing just as many or more books with each alcove holding a different genre. Bliss - call for me in an hour or two...

When I came out, wincing slightly at the brightness of the sunlight and with my purchases clutched lovingly to my chest, we crossed the road and walked back slowly along the seafront towards the car. We paused halfway back to buy ice creams and sat on a bench to enjoy them.

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