The late Dame Thora Hird once gave a brilliant quote. “I spent 10 years working in a grocery store...and I’ve played nearly all the customers I used to serve - maids, landladies, cleaners...”
The landladies of Morecambe were part of a little community when I was growing up. My nan, Ida , was part of it.
At 15 Thirlmere Drive where I was born, my nan always used to take in guests, turning our house into a bed and breakfast.
I remember this was the norm in Morecambe. Family homes on just about every street had B&B signs with ‘vacancies’ and ‘no vacancies’.
As a child it was perfectly normal for me to have breakfast with complete strangers.
Families were good at multi-tasking back then, making a bit of money out of visitors to the town, who got something in return by having a friendly place to stay while enjoying their holiday.
There were also proper guest houses in Morecambe, hundreds of them.
I remember the maids with French pinnies and many of these guest houses had cocktail bars in the basements.
It wouldn’t be unusual for about a dozen holidaymakers, who didn’t know each other but had all come to Morecambe for a week, to congregate at night around these 1960s cocktail bars.
I now notice there is a modern equivalent of the ‘family home turned guest house’. The website AirBnB is becoming more and more popular. People can advertise rooms or sometimes their entire houses as somewhere for visitors to stay.
Lauren Zawadzki, who works with us on the Vintage-by-the-Sea, has a friend who put her house on there two weeks ago. It’s now booked up for the summer, that proves the power of it.
We’ve been looking for places for our Vintage-by-the-Sea festival team to stay in Morecambe this September and have been impressed.
The Midland, of course, is the king of the castle. There aren’t many rooms left there for Vintage.
Ten of my team will be staying at Regent Caravan Park. It’s clean and well presented. That’s the main thing you want when you’re staying somewhere. You don’t want to feel grubby.
The Lothersdale looks pretty good, as do the Clarendon, Craigwell, Berkeley and Red Bank Farm.
I also see that Morecambe has lost the Broadway and the Elms.
I feel sad whenever places close, but you have to ask yourself, have they moved with the times?
Around the UK many who have opened boutique hotels to replace old-style hotels have done very well.
People’s expectations have become greater these days and if you don’t react to change then you just fade away.