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Lancashire Coat of Arms

Jul 2019

Moriancabris Latin (unknown) from ancient greek, possibly.

Population - 42,589.

Wetherspoon™s - The Eric Bartholomew : Eric you know who (4½/5).

Lancashire Coat of Arms

This should be a straightforward up and down of a crumbling promenade in a struggling seaside town that long since threw in the towel to Blackpool?

It's all ITV™'s fault, you see, with Morecambe welcoming seven million visitors every Wednesday as the backdrop to  The Bay, a better-than-expected, who-what-where-why-dunnit crime drama although a second series might be milking it.

The portrayal wasn't exactly flattering but only because they didn't venture east of the Stone Jetty but more on that in a minute. If they had, however, as you will do, definitely, you too will leave with, well,  A Little Respect for the place, probably.

An unexpected throng pushes parking up to the  sailing club where access looks to be via the floor at high tide.

Morecambe Sailing Club Morecambe Town Hall

Carry on in the wrong direction for this eye-catching bit of bricks and mortar, clocked on the second lap of an unsuccessful attempt to park.

The Tuscan portico and triglyph frieze, obviously, turns out to be part of Morecambe's old Town Hall and Lancaster City Council's HQ #2, no less. Inside there is the hardest working staff in the North West, probably, constantly trying to transform the town but 2020 is what could be a potential game-changer, tourism-wise.

 Eden Project North looks to transplant what Cornwall has enjoyed for nearly twenty years to a smaller version by the Irish Sea but only if government funding is forthcoming. Three thousand visitors a day in high season, they say, so forget about the sailing club, the parking will be up in Carnforth if it gets the go-ahead, hopefully.

 
Happy Mount Park (Marine Road East)

It's twenty more minutes to Happy Mount Park, the scene of a 1994 attempt to tempt the tourists in only this one ended in scandal. Lancaster City Council came to an arrangement to split the gate receipts of Noel Edmonds' Crinkly Bottom™, a Mr Blobby™-themed theme park, seriously.

When nobody came, the council tried tinkering with the T&Cs triggering a protracted court case that lasted longer than the thirteen weeks the park did. At considerable expense to the taxpayer, Edmonds was awarded nearly a £million in compo making for an extremely long game of  Deal or No Deal, then deal.

Blame looks to lie with both parties, Edmonds and his operation for failing to deliver on the projected visitor numbers and Lancaster City Council for, well, thinking that it would.

Heading up Lord Street and there's more of a village feel where the only thing missing is a duckpond, perhaps? There's more unexpected brickwork in the form of a 14th-century archway and it was moved back here when the Town Hall no longer wanted it.

Morecambe - Poulton Road

This was once Poulton Hall, you see, a medieval mansion that was home to George Washington's ancestors, no less, but that was when it was all fields round here.

Well, fields and sea, actually, although there's no real sense of the saltwater with some of the Industrial Revolution-era construction more suited to a big city, say.

Morecambe - Station Road Morecambe - Fisherman's Square

There is a reminder, however, at Fisherman's Square, not to mention a 30-foot-high one looking down at you.

Some zig-zagging through an unspectacular area of shopping is required before the artsy vibe resumes on Victoria Street. Victoria Wood there, just about visible, centre-top, who happened to live here while her career was taking off and her  Two Soups sketch is said to have been inspired by a local caff.

Morecambe - Victoria Street

Stan and Ollie's link is far more tenuous having only played here the once alongside music hall legends Albert Modley, Nat Jackley and Ronné Coyles, no doubt. They have to settle for second billing, again, only this time on a sidestreet.

Laurence Olivier and local lass Thora Hird, no less, get the tile treatment at the back of a dodgy-looking nightclub.

Morecambe - Victoria Street

Olivier lodged here briefly while filming his turn in  The Entertainer and all of this is part of an ongoing initiative to establish Morecambe as a creative and cultural hub.

That, by the way, is something Blackpool definitely can't boast.

Outside of motorcycle clubs and Morecambe,  John McGuiness might not mean much but this master of the motorbike has twenty-three Isle of Man TT wins. No, never heard of him, neither, but here they have and how about more artwork to celebrate the 'Morecambe Missile'?

Morecambe - Victoria Street Morecambe - Victoria Street

Not so much an exocet, here's an avocet and all of it is really rather marvellous.

 
The Eric Bartholomew (Euston Road)

It was bound to happen sooner than later and here's the first reminder of Morecambe's most famous son. Born Eric Bartholomew, naturally, Eric adopted the placename as his surname and Wethersoon™s have rather lazily sort of done the same.

Morecambe - The Eric Bartholomew

The Director of Contrived Waterhole Naming, however, very nearly gets a full (5/5)[1] for that but not for any great stretch of the imagination. No, the score is awarded simply because, well, it's Eric bloomin' Morecambe!

[1] Just round the corner, there's trouble deciding whether Brew me Sunshine warrants a (1/5) or a (5/5)?

Following a longer-than-expected period of looking at walls, it's past the Bridges of Sighs and down to the front to finally inspect the only preconceptions of the place.

Morecambe - West View Road Morecambe - Marine Road Central Morecambe Winter Gardens

It's largely what you might expect but what's left of the  Winter Gardens gives a hint of Morecambe's heyday. By 'what's left', it's meant the theatre building[1] since the ballroom went the way in the '80s for an ugly amusement arcade in what was seen as progress by the pen-pushers at Lancaster City Hall, probably.

It's guided tours only inside but noted theatre architect  Frank Matcham's interiors remain thanks to an ongoing restoration that hopes to be soon packing 'em in again.

Current activity is of the paranormal variety with overnight, ghost hunts the main event. Is anybody there? Apparently so, they're proving pretty popular, actually.

[1] The Pavilion Theatre and they've spellt it wrong on the entrance tiles but nobody seemed to notice.

 
Brucciani P L (Marine Road West)

They're famed for their ice creams but there's a proper old-skool caff with a menu to match in the back. It shouldn't take that long for a couple of eggs on toast but the food is flying out and everybody else is being served.

Morecambe - Brucciani P L

It's clearly all getting cooked correctly... but not necessarily in the right order.

Lancashire location-spotters will immediately recognise the area opposite as one of the eye-candy providers for ITV™s The Bay, filling in the who-what-where-why-got-dunnin-innit with some atmospheric and largely-nighttime plot progression.

Morecambe - The Super Swimming Stadium

It used to be the Super Swimming Stadium, honestly, until it sprung a leak although there are far worse places for that to happen. It lasted for nearly forty years from 1936 until an '80s redevelopment to an events venue with a paddling pool lasted for ten years less.

Eden Project North will be looking for a longer lease than twenty years for this is the proposed site, you see, although things are still very much wait and see in early 2020.

Morecambe - Take the Plunge

That shouldn't see the end of Take the Plunge, an eye-popping piece of Art Deco inspired artwork on a block of old bogs. It's a nod to the superbly-named stadium by a very talented pair of  local artists and another example of them working overtime up at the Town Hall to enhance the town, probably.

All of this by the Stone Jetty, a prominent protrusion that's what's literally left of the old harbour. Not that the harbour's that old since it came with the railway and the former station can be found halfway along it.

Morecambe - The Stone Jetty

Get this, though, Morecambe isn't all that old, neither, with the name only adopted[1] after the railroad arrived like anyone would ever think of doing that, eh?

Those travelling by early chuff-chuff would likely be heading for the Isle of Man via Cumbria[2] via a ferry. Lancastrians were already heading to Blackpool but with this branch line serving West Yorkshire, why not try and keep 'em here meaning Bradford-on-Sea was born.

[1] And, in turn, just nicked from the bay Morikambe as it was known to the Romans.
[2] Stan off of Laurel and Hardy skipped the Isle of Man leg to sail over to Cumbria to see his birthplace of Ulverston, they say.

New paving in the '90s and a series of artsy installations were part of some fine defensive work, flood-wise. The sea doesn't half come in quick, you see, and they even have to set off a siren up in Arnside when it does.

Morecambe - The Stone Jetty Morecambe - End of The Stone Jetty Morecambe - Time and Tide Bell

Here, the  Time and Tide Bell simply chimes to the ebb and flow of the tide and, at the rate it's coming in today, this thing is going to bust a clapper!

In Blackpool, you can fork out for the tower and hope for the Isle of Man on a clear day but the end of the Morecambe's jetty provides a free view out over the bay and up to the Southern Lakes.

That view can also be enjoyed from the upper floors of the  Midland Hotel, an iconic, Art Deco restoration and destination, like you didn't know already.

Morecambe - The Midland Hotel

1933 it opened and replaced the previous one built to keep people leaving by ferry but the inevitable state of disrepair by the end of the '90s meant it stood empty for nearly ten years.

Specialising in the redevelopment of landmark buildings, the 2008 re-opening was down to Manchester-based developers  Urban Splash and, ironically, is something you can no longer do next door at the Super Swimming Stadium.

The empty patch of land next to Morrison™s was formerly Frontierland, a fun for all the family fair but now largely undeveloped since the millennium.

Trading with Blackpool Pleasure Beach's hand-me-downs, at least it was handy for the train although this isn't where you might arrive today. That's back where, get this, what this station replaced until they decided to close it so then had to rebuild the old one, what's all that about?

Morecambe - The Platform - EXT. DAY Morecambe - The Platform - INT. DAY

Another example of what was seen as progress, probably, but at least Morecambe now has a Tourist Information with an Edwardian interior and a 500-capacity, live  performance venue, much needed since they knocked down the one on the Super Swimming Stadium.

Good to see  The Jam'd on soon who are unlikely to knock out a version of  The Gift's  Trans Global Express although, back then, it was just the 14:20 chugger back to Bradford...  Choo-choo! I gotta keep movin'.

You could head further on past Frontierland towards the enticingly-named area of Sandylands although it didn't fare quite so well when the guest houses closed. They filmed some of the grittier bits of ITV™s The Bay thereabouts, the bits when they weren't all running round with the Midland Hotel in the background.

 Creative West End, a collaboration of creative organisations look to be doing some fine, revitalising work and sincere apologies for not popping over to Morecambe's West End. No, a rendition of  West End Girls was causing something of a distraction in a cordoned off zone where the Super Swimming Stadium once was.

Yes, today's only the inaugural  Morecambe Pride Festival, an afternoon including a  Beardy bloke off of Britain's Got Talent™ and an awful lot of 80's pop that's not quite as bad as you remember the first time round.

Morecambe Pride

That explains the flag flying atop the town hall, not to mention the situation with the parking, and it's expected to become an annual event but not until the year after next now, probably.

Not  Heaven 17 but COVID-19 has spoiled the summer of 2020 for everyone including  Right Said Fred at a bigger version in Blackpool. Oh well, every cloud, eh?

The Clock Tower back up the promenade might normally ring a bell with Queen Victoria for some golden or diamond work, jubilee-wise.

Morecambe - The Clock Tower

Not this one, though, a gift to the town by some wealthy Alderman or other, thanks very much, just a few years after her reign with today's rain thankfully holding off.

With the sun now out, that makes for an apt conclusion and Morecambe's most visited attraction, probably. Here he is, look!  Eric Morecambe, of course, and one of the most effortlessly-funniest entertainers ever.

Morecambe - Eric Morecambe Statue Morecambe - Eric Morecambe Statue

The Japanese visitors, seriously, might take a while to shift out of the way and it's not known if 'Not now Arthur!' gets lost in translation, just one of the famous phrases etched in the swirling paving.

A keen birdwatcher, Eric, the binocs around his neck are a nod, and you can hide yourselves away in one of his favourite spots up the coast at RSPB™ Leighton Moss. These periods of relaxation were welcome, they say, himself included, the meticulous rehearsals and obsession with perfection contributing to his third, fatal heart attack backstage in Tewkesbury, probably.

Meanwhile, back down at Pride, the strains of  Walking on Sunshine can be heard, adding to the aptness nicely. Still, it could be worse, there's a Jason Donovan tribute on at 5 PM but here's already a reminder of one-  Too-Many Broken Hearts in the world, right kids?