The Midland Hotel glitters with Art Deco design. Opened in 1933, it is on the site of a much older hotel, built in the 1840s when the railways first started bringing holidaymakers to the seaside resort of Morecambe, in north Lancashire. Architect Oliver Hill was chosen to create ‘…. a building of international quality in the modern style; he more than fulfilled that brief. The sensuous lines of the outside are synonymous with Art Deco: from the front and the rear of the hotel it has a beauty and grace that defined that movement. There are very few such buildings left in the country and this is, without doubt, one of the finest.
Sculptor Eric Gill’s Sea Horses welcome visitors from on high and the motif is repeated in sparkly mosaics on the floors inside. The interior is quite simply unique. Marion Dorn, a well-known textile designer, produced the beautiful rugs, which have been recreated and placed around the foyer. The precious frescoes by Eric Gill are as fresh and bright today as they were when he sculpted them in the 1930s. His most famous piece, Odysseus Welcomed from the Sea by Nausicaa, carved from Portland stone, is behind the Reception Desk. It’s inscribed with the optimistic message, There is good hope that thou mayest see thy friends. Look upwards to see the lovely ceiling medallion of Neptune, Triton and mermaids.
Due to the proximity of The Winter Gardens theatre, many actors, musicians, comedians and other performers often stayed at the Midland in its heyday. I had heard that other famous names had also been guests, so was disappointed to read the following,
Rumours abound of famous people said to have passed through the Midland’s doors during this time, such as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Gloria Vanderbilt, Winston Churchill, Oswald Mosley, Noel Coward among many others. Most of the stories are probably no more than embroidered hearsay and any documentation, such as the pre-war visitors’ books, has long since disappeared from The Midland Hotel History. Whatever, it has a romance, style and elegance that would have delighted them all.
I live in nearby Carnforth (where the classic film ‘Brief Encounter‘ was shot) and often pop in for a drink in the Rotunda bar with its stunning ultra-modern chandelier and beautiful views across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District fells. Treat yourself to Afternoon Tea and you can enjoy that scenery in luxurious leisure.
The Midland Hotel is one of a choice selection of English Lakes Hotels in Lancashire and Cumbria.