Blast from the Past

Winter Gardens.
Winter Gardens.
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Five years ago: Shocked employees of two off-licences arrived at work to find they had been made redundant.

Staff at Booze Buster on Regent Road and Alexandra Road turned in to find the shops being shut up, and had not been paid for six weeks. Stock and 109 of the retail outlets had been sold to Walsall-based drinks distributor EFB Retail, but the remaining 61 stores had not been sold and 320 employees had been made redundant.

Morecambe’s much-loved Elms Hotel closed its doors to the public for the last time. On September 30 the hotel, where countless people had wedding receptions, funerals, parties, functions and meals out, shut for good. Planners had recommended that the hotel be demolished to make way for sheltered flats for the elderly after owners Mitchell’s Brewery re-issued plans, which were initially turned down.

Ten years ago

Dozens of houses could be demolished and many more ‘remodelled’ as part of a five-year plan to regenerate Morecambe’s West End. The masterplan could also include a new college campus on the former Frontierland site and new apartments near the Battery. Details were contained in the draft West End Masterplan, released by Lancaster City Council. The plan aimed to solve the area’s social and economic problems.

The bodies of 21 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay were to be returned home. Officials at the Home Office agreed to pay for the bodies to be flown back to their loved ones. At the same time they had allowed 11 survivors to stay in the UK to help police investigating the February 5 tragedy. The bodies could be released by the coroner because lawyers had said they did not require second post mortems.

Twenty years ago

The future of Morecambe’s Winter Gardens Theatre hung in the balance. Huge grants and cash donations were needed if the complex was to be saved. And it was by no means certain the Historic Buildings at Risk Trust would be able to raise the money. But they confirmed that in their view the repair, restoration and conversion of the Winter Gardens to provide shops, pubs and an auditorium was a practical proposition.

Morecambe’s purpose-built £300,000 Youth and Community Centre in Woodhill Lane was officially handed over with an open invitation to residents to suggest how they would like it developed. The object was to encourage as many groups as possible to use the building which was scheduled to come into operation. The project hadn’t been without controversy, opponents arguing it should have been established in the West End.