When Steve Blane was a boy, he used to run around the Midland hotel and pester showbiz greats for autographs.
Today, Steve runs his own seafront hotel just a few hundred yards away. And he couldn’t be happier to be back.
Now the proprietor of the Crown Hotel, Steve also has fond memories of when the prom’s pubs and clubs were crammed with party people out to have a great time – and he was right at the heart of it.
As a DJ in the 1980s and 1990s, his microphone and music talents packed pleasure-seekers onto the dancefloor at long-lost venues like Harveys, the wonderfully cheesy nightclub near the Battery.
“It was a fantastic time,” says Steve.
“Everybody was so well-behaved and up for a laugh. I was always ‘on the edge’ but never filthy. It wasn’t like you see in Ayia Napa or Magaluf today.
“Harveys was great. We had all kinds of celebrities there like Bob Carolgees, Sam Fox and Simon Bates.
“We did all sorts of crazy things. I used to dress up in a pith helmet and safari shorts and have a real python and a cage on stage – all kinds of novelty acts. We had dancing competitions, a great crowd who would do whatever I asked them to.
“Sadly, those days have gone.
“But people should still embrace Morecambe and enjoy it for what it is.”
Originally from Yorkshire, Steve was seduced by the world of entertainment from a young age.
His family moved here when his dad Reginald became head chef at the Midland hotel in the 1960s.
Steve has fond memories of meeting celebrities like Norman Wisdom and Charlie Chester at the Midland.
His parents also owned a guest house on Heysham Road. Young Steve would entertain the guests with his own late-night shows, honing showbiz skills for his later DJ career.
He began DJing at the Redwell at Arkholme in the ‘70s, specialising in soul and funk music from his favourites Luther Vandross, George Benson and Lionel Richie. Around the same time, he met another aspiring DJ called Steve Middlesbrough.
“I took Steve under my wing and we’re stll friends today,” said Steve.
“But one night I left him at the Redwell to go to another gig and forgot to go back and pick him up. He had to walk home to Morecambe!”
Steve went on to DJ at the Casa Baba in Lancaster, the Chequered Flag at Garstang, 42nd Street at Heysham. Greendales Club near Pontins and the infamous ‘Brooks International’.
By day, he worked in the motor trade as a sales manager, working at Cumberland View Garages, John Wilding and David Hayton.
“I’d work late nights in the motor trade until 7pm and then DJ from 10pm until the early hours of the morning,” he said.
“I feel honoured to have worked with people like Ken Parker, God love him, John and Adrian Wilding, and David Hayton and his sons Chris and Phil.”
Steve also ran the Golden Ball pub at Snatchems for six years but has less favourable memories of his recent stint as licensee of the Scale Hall pub on Morecambe Road.
“I had a lot of trouble at Scale Hall and I lost a lot of money.
“My wife had been ill and I had bowel cancer five years ago, although I’m fine now. We had gone through quite a lot. Then Sean O’Hagan (owner of the Crown) approached me.”
Steve and his wife Margaret took over at the nine-bedroomed hotel and so far, their decision is paying off.
“We get visitors from all over the world; Australia, the USA, Norway, even Saudi Arabia.
“We had three entrepreneurs come here, one from Las Vegas, one from New York, both in their 70s, with one of their sons who lives in Switzerland.
They’d heard about the Way of the Roses cycle ride on the internet and came to Morecambe to do it for a laugh.
“The BBC production team from the programme ‘Turn Back Time’ chose to stay here when they were filming in Morecambe last year. The Midland sends clients to us too when they’re full.”
Steve, who turns 60 later this year, once lived his 18-hour working days in the fast lane of cars, loud music and celebrities. But today, he prefers the quieter life.
He enjoys sitting in the window of the Crown overlooking the Bay, reflecting happily on his roller coaster career, and is delighted to have ended up running his own hotel.
“I look out at the Eric statue and see how many people have their photos taken with that. It’s great, it really is.
“I have such fond feelings for Morecambe and I feel very sad that it’s always the downside people look at. There’s a happy side to this town.”