Morecambe waits…

Liz Corlett, Writer.

Words by Liz Corlett

If ever there was a town which looks for silver linings, it’s Morecambe. And just occasionally, that delicate gleam is not the promise merely of more rain. On my first stay in Morecambe, I’ve only been in town for half an hour when Ian Pashley, who works at The Midland Hotel, tells me how the West Pier was swept away in storms in 1977. It wasn’t all bad, he says: unfettered one-armed bandits disgorged money all over the beach, to the delight of hordes of salvagers in short trousers.

Time and fortune have not been so bountiful to Morecambe as a whole. It’s commonly defined by what it used to be, what it lost and can never recover. In less than half a century, the town has been demoted from a seaside Shangri-La for hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers to a magnet only for faint distaste and amusement. You’re going to Morecambe? people say. But why? Curiosity. A certain perverse pleasure in the downbeat, even the seedy. And lastly, politeness – it’s just not the done thing to judge a book by its cover.

Morecambe’s sea front is actually not unlike a book. East Promenade, with its flowerbeds and chin-up guest houses, is the front cover; turn over to West Promenade and another tale is told in charity shops and boarded-up windows. And the spine? The lovely Midland, which has borne the freight of Morecambe’s hopes for regeneration since reopening in 2008. Its Deco curvature – swelling out towards the bay, embracing the town – is as eloquent a vow of resistance as you’re likely to find.

Revisiting the town with Phil, we’re told by a man in the Joiners Arms that “Morecambe is dead, man. Oh, it’s dead”. I’m not convinced, not least because the vivacity (or otherwise) of a place is sometimes in the mind of the beholder. It’s fairer to say that Morecambe’s tide simply went a very long way out, for this at least admits of the possibility that it could be due to flow back in – any day now.

Words and images copyright Liz Corlett and Phil Kneen, respectively.

11 comments

  1. Marian Paterson

    Wow, this is as good as anything you’d read in The Times or The Observer magazines! A photographic and literary perfect match.

    Well done you two, can’t wait to see more.

  2. mikecaine

    I spent a night at The Midland Hotel between Christmas and New Year. Absolutely hated it, a complete let down. Didn’t stay on to look at anything else in Morcambe.

  3. Here in the USA we too have some seaside towns–even lakeside ones too-that have lost their appeal to tourists or potential residents/businesses and hence they start to get that tarnished town appearance you describe above. We are optimists here though and often the tide turns for the better (to use a bad pun). You just have to watch out for developers which would build 100 floor hotels. It is a balance. Loved getting a sense of the place but coulda used a lot more pics.

  4. Davy Theobold

    That’s really great. A very enjoyable read, makes me want to go to Morecambe!

    Phil – how are you finding the M7II? I’m thinking of trading-up. Those images look pin sharp from my end. My only worry is buying a S/H one, I’ve heard the rangefinders can be a bit delicate. What’s your angle?

  5. Carol Harrison

    Loved reading your article – the words and pictures go together so well. I’ve just spent the last hour or so reading through your entire blog, Phil – amazing photography. You’re also not to bad with a virtual pen yourself!

    Well done, both of you.

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