LOOKING BACK: The Grandest place on Morecambe prom

Robert Yates' business in Bare village was one of the first refrigerator companies in Morecambe.
Robert Yates' business in Bare village was one of the first refrigerator companies in Morecambe.
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It was fascinating to hear about the history of the Morecambe Grand Hotel from Virginia Knowles.

Virginia’s father Robert Yates used to live in the old hotel, on the corner of Marine Road and Thornton Road, as a child.

Robert’s memoirs reveal the Grand was built around 1910 to be the very best in the area, furnished by Waring and Gillow with no expense spared.

“Built on a large corner block, with bar licence and four storeys high, all red brick and white woodwork, it was the most impressive architectural structure on Morecambe Promenade,” wrote Robert.

At the time, Robert’s parents James Nelson and Ellen Yates were licensees of the Royal Kings Arms Hotel in Lancaster.

“When arrangements for the auction sale of the Grand Hotel were to be made at the Kings Arms, they had no idea or interest whatever in bidding and buying,” wrote Robert.

“The auctioneer was having trouble getting a bid. My father was at the back of the room as an observer only. He said to my mother: ‘I’m going to bid for it.’ Mother said: ‘How will you pay for it?’ He said: ‘I’ll decide that later.’

That’s how James and Ellen became owners of the Grand in 1913. Robert and his sister Mary and brother Bill went to live at the Grand. Mary was the manager and she, and the staff, took care of the boys.

The First World War soon broke out and the Grand was half-filled with army officers and Government officials, which provided a good regular income for the family for four years.

During the Second World War the entire hotel was taken over by the Government to use as offices for civil servants.

When the war ended the Grand was sold and became a retirement home until 1976 when it was once again returned to the Grand Hotel style, before being put up for sale again in 1983.

Robert went on to become a successful businessman in his own right, running the Grand Garage near the hotel and a director of one of the first refrigerator companies in the town, North Lancashire Refridgerators Ltd, in Bare village where his daughter Virginia now lives.

Robert died in 1990 but we are thankful he wrote his memories down so we could share them with readers of Looking Back.

If anyone has any more memories or photos of the old Grand Hotel I’d be delighted to hear and receive them.