Friday, 9 May 2008

Morecambe by Accident.

Driving home in our motorhome from the Yorkshire Dales the sun shone, I became more and more depressed, after all, they don't call me Grumpy Old Ken for nothing. So we turned right off the A59 and hey presto, before you knew it we were sitting on Morecambe front. That's one of the joys of motorhoming, plans are seldom made and of any case never adhered to.
We hadn't intended to visit Morecambe. This may well be a normal reaction to the place. The mobile phone rang, family as usual. "Where are you?" is an oft repeated cry. "Morecambe" my wife replied. (Am I the only person in the country without a mobile phone? Mind you, my wife's right, I'd only lose it.) "Why?" came the plaintive retort. No discussion, comment, nothing, just the puzzled enquiry, "Why?" Good question! That's the effect poor old Morecambe has. Much maligned, it is a vision in many eyes of a run down Victorian seaside past its heyday, if it ever in fact had a 'heyday'. An unfortunate picture of an English seaside resort that is trying hard to come to terms with the twenty first century and has in fact much going for it.
Morecambe did in fact have a heyday in the distant past. It was the premier northern English seaside resort at one time surpassing Blackpool as the holiday mecca for northern factory towns.
At its peak it boasted two railway stations, two piers, eight cinemas, eight music halls, a revolving tower, a Summer Pavilion and a Winter Gardens. Plus the largest swimming pool in Britain. But as Blackpool's popularity grew coupled with the British holiday makers discovery of the Costa Brava Morecambe's popularity declined. The Central Pier was destroyed by fire; the swimming pool has long since gone, as has the Grand Hotel, plus the Winter Gardens fell into disrepair. The decline seemed ominous but was fortunately not terminal. (I trust the message on the derelict building on the seafront that states 'The End is Nigh' is meant to be humorous rather than prophetic.)
The availability of government money in 1990 made much of the improvements seen today possible. Coastal defences were improved alongside dramatic improvements to the promenade in general. The bird life of the region is important, celebrated by the birth of The Tern Project. The result is an artwork extravaganza mainly in the promenade area that is both unique and pleasing to the eye. But that is only part of Morecambe in the 21st century. The Stone Jetty has been sympathetically restored and is as good a place as any to view Morecambe's amazing sunsets; whilst a walk along the five mile long seafront never ceases to delight. Across the bay (195 square miles) are views unsurpassed in the world, never mind Britain. Surprising a Cross Bay walk is possible on occasion, strictly supervised, and described by some as 'One of the worlds most wonderful journeys.'
It is a fun sort of place epitomised by its most famous son, John Eric Bartholomew, better known as Eric Morecambe, one half of the much loved Eric and Ernie duo. Eric's statue on the promenade lightens up even the dullest of days.
The saga of the Midland Hotel symbolises the new Morecambe. An Art Deco hotel on the sea front, it has stood quietly crumbling, drab and sadly neglected for many a year. But now, decline halted, it has been renovated at great cost symbolising the hope invested in 21st century Morecambe. Plus its not just hope that's invested. A contracter informed me the gleaming white finish of the new look Midland comes courtesy of bags of a special substance from Germany, each one costing £50 and covering one metre only.
The parking seems adequate (We were there midweek) but black mark Morecambe for the height barriers on a car park at the Carnforth end of the town. And the shops were unexceptional, some shopfronts needing a lick of paint but I suppose even Rome wasn't built in a day. The signs are that at least the place is trying to please and in the main succeeding.
There are two medium sized home made sandy beaches that will surely delight the bucket and spade brigades, particularly the children. I get the impression that Morecambe sees itself as a family resort. During our visit we saw only once the raucous alcohol fuelled behaviour so prevalent in some other resorts. But neither did I see any police presence whatsoever. Perhaps, like some of the birdlife prevalent in the area, they too only come out at night.
Morecambe has certainly improved since our last visit and seems keen to continue the trend.
Undoubtedly we could have occupied ourselves longer had we so desired. The West End Gardens are worth a visit whilst the Poulton Village Mural Trail sounds both interesting and educational. (Poulton -le Sands is the original fishing village around which the town of Morecambe grew.)
You need do as much or as little as you choose. The beauty of the Lake District is but a short ride away. My wife preferred to sit in the sun, eat in local cafes and search for bargains in the indoor market and who can blame her.
Unpretenteous Morecambe is no Blackpool and probably has no desire or need to be so. Bill Bryson had many nice things to say about Morecambe in his 'Notes From a Small Island'. He was often less flattering about many more fashionable resorts. So if its good enough for Mr Bryson, it's good enough for us; we will certainly return.


Anonymous said...

In other words, it enables you to carry on working when not connected to the internet,
a feature being introduced in the next few weeks.

The NP-NF310 retails around $350 and features
an ultra fast start-up speed (under 3 seconds) and a 9+
hour battery life. While the Inspiron and Samsung both offer
the new i3 processor, the Acer AS5253 comes with a quick AMD-E series 2.

Feel free to visit my web blog ... samsung chromebook review

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.