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Published: February 14th 2010
The sun never did shine in Bradford on Sea, but then that was probably too much to hope for in mid-January. The wide sweep of Morecambe Bay remained shrouded in low cloud and cold temperatures for the duration, but the welcome was warm. The statue of Eric looks out over the town from the seafront - perhaps keeping an eye out on the Wetherspoons named after him in the town centre. The Bay found favour in Victorian times with:
“a temperature of the mildest,
a death rate of the lowest,
a noble bay within easy reach of the Lake Country,
with air pure and bracing, a low number of bacteria per litre of water,
a proportionately high oxygen count in the air
and an absence of fog”
The Bay is still noble and within easy reach of the Lake District, but has seen decline with the trend of overseas guaranteed sunshine and there are parts that look a bit sorry for themselves. There is nothing left of Frontierland - Morecambe’s answer to the Pleasure Beach in Blackpool. Whilst Blackpool has reinvented itself with a combination of illuminations, cheap booze and good time young people, Morecambe has now pinned a
mini revival on the Art Deco master piece at the headland of Marine Road. The Midland, the masterpiece of Art Deco accommodation in England along with Burgh Island, has benefited from a complete overhaul and is now back to it’s heyday of 1933. The original Victorian structure was demolished in 1932 and it’s replacement needed a few bob more than the original build cost of £72,000 to bring it back to life. The hotel was the work of Oliver Hill and he commissioned the renowned sculptor and engraver Eric Gill to add some finishing touches to the creation. The finest is the ceiling medallion, which dominates the circular staircase in the reception. There are only 44 rooms, so book early to avoid disappointment.
The Art Deco experience can continue along the road at Brucciani’s Cafe, if they decide it is worth opening - if you go out of season, check first. It’s difficult to work out whether the interior is original by design or by lack of funds for improvement. The highlights of Morecambe can be limited, but Atkinson Fish and Chips deserve a mention as do the good folks at the Lancaster Brewery for adding there touch to
Eric's statue on the seafront
the Palatine Hotel. The blonde ale was so good, that a detour was also made to the Sun Inn in Lancaster.
Lancaster, once you have mastered it’s rather over complicated one way system, is a thriving University city and county seat. The Maritime Museum holds enough entertainment to bring you up to speed with the development and subsequent decline of the old port of Lancaster as well as enlightening you on the development of the whole Bay area. We stayed just outside at Thurnham Hall - a timeshare development built around the renovated old manor house and complete with leisure complex. If you can get a rate on one of the accommodation websites, you’ll be amazed at the value.
We ventured as far north as Arnside, where the rail line bridges the estuary on it’s way to south Cumbria and with it’s views across to Grange over Sands. It’s difficult to comprehend when you look across the sands from the Carnforth area, that the main road to Cumbria once went straight across the Bay at low tide! We finished our Bay tour by a wander around the National Football Museum in it’s setting at Preston North End.
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