Post-Covid funding bid could see popular illuminations return to Morecambe

Plans are in the pipeline to bring the famous Morecambe Illuminations back to the town.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 2:21 pm
How Morecambe Illuminations used to look.

The popular attraction hasn't been seen since 1996, but now councillors and business partners in the resort are hoping to resurrect the event with the help of county council funding.

Lancashire County Council is currently inviting bids for funding from a £14m pot put aside to help local economies recover after the Covid pandemic.

And Charlie Edwards, who is a county councillor for Morecambe South, is now in the process of putting together a business proposal for the plans.

Ken Morley, alias Coronation Street's Reg Holdsworth, turns on Morecambe's lights alongside Morecambe DJ Steve Middlesbrough, in 1996.

Lancaster City Council, Morecambe Town Council, Morecambe BID and arts charity Luminate Morecambe are also supporting the venture.

"I am trying to make our town better," said Coun Edwards, who also co-owns The Boardwalk pub in Morecambe's West End.

"This has been on my radar for a while, and when the county council announced their funding I thought I should try to put a bid in.

"As soon as you mention Morecambe Illuminations, everyone gets a little glint in their eye.

A Visitor newspaper glass plate negative shows the view along Morecambe Illuminations after the switch-on in 1954.

"It was something that really put Morecambe on the map and people were really proud of it.

"My vision is a series of different lights and installations across Morecambe with a programme so people can walk around the town and see all the different lights.

"It could be a mix of arts and technology and innovation, and be educational and inspirational as well as having a leaning towards sustainability.

"It would also be something to complement the Eden Project in the future."

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise wave to the crowds at Morecambe Illuminations in 1975.

Coun Edwards hopes the lights would be in place through December and January, so as not to rival Blackpool Illuminations or Light Up Lancaster.

And he hopes they would attract more tourists to the town as well as being something for residents to enjoy.

"If visitors would come and stay the weekend or for the night it would increase footfall and be a big boost for shops, bars and restaurants," he said.

If the plans go smoothly, Coun Edwards hopes the town could put on a trial run this Christmas, with a view to a full event running from December 2022.

County Coun Charlie Edwards.

The county council funding would help kick-start the project and allow it to run for the first few years, but eventually it would ideally be self-sustaining, with a boost from future arts funding and sponsorship.

"Everyone is really supportive and positive at the moment," Coun Edwards added. "We hope this will complement everything else going on in the district.

"We have got so much to offer and we need to showcase it, and we need to be a 12-month economy."