Did you guess where Otto visited on the 1st December? We thought this was a tricky one, but 16 of you got it right (in the end!) The answer was of course the Midland Hotel (some of you were very precise with ‘Midland Hotel lounge’!).
About The Midland Hotel
Otto thought it was only right for our final location of 2013 to be The Midland Hotel, as it too celebrates an anniversary. This year sees The Midland Hotel celebrate its 80th anniversary, having first opened its doors in July 1933.
So what did Otto learn whilst chasing ladies up the grand spiral stairs? Well, the grade 2 listing was designed by architect Oliver Hill. Oliver wanted to create a building “of international quality in the modern style” and in 1932 work commenced. Oliver Hill had big plans for the Midland Hotel, it was his chance to “have a unique opportunity of building the first really modern hotel in the country”. Eric Gill, working closely with Oliver, created most of the interior decoration. Arguably his greatest work was Gill’s huge bas-relief for the hotel’s lounge entitled “Odysseus welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa”, which today stands grandly behind the main reception desk in the main lobby of the hotel.
Hill and Gill’s impressive work paid off. When the Midland Hotel opened it’s doors in 1933 it was met with widespread acclaim. One guest, the Earl of Derby, said the hotel was “a magnificent building, it sets an example for others to follow.” Sir Josiah Stamp (President of LMS) said he had recently seen the most up-to-date hotel accommodation in Chicago, Copenhagen and Stockholm, embodying the latest modernism, cubism and other ‘isms’ but the Midland Hotel eclipsed them all. That’s not all, a correspondent from ‘CountryLife’ magazine was so captivated by the illuminated spiral staircase that he likened it to “a fairy staircase that one would willingly climb till it reached to heaven.” The Midland Hotel attracted celebrities such as Coco Chanel, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Noel Coward, along with many actors and musicians performing at the Winter Gardens.
In the 1970s the Midland Hotel became a listed building (Grade 2) and changed hands. The new owners, Hutchinson Leisure, were granted permission for a glass sun-lounge running the length of the seaward side of the hotel and this was completed in 1979. But trade did not improve as envisaged and when Anne Greenham took over the hotel in 1989 the Midland had become very run down.
There was some attempt at Thirties-style restoration but financial difficulties led to the hotel being sold to Les Whittingham. During his ownership relations with the local council became strained and litigation was frequently threatened, particularly over the removal of the Eric Gill relief to London for an exhibition.
The Midland Hotel went down-market and acquired a cheap and tawdry appearance, its walls often adorned by garish advertisements. Little was done to stem the deterioration of the building and on Les Whittingham’s death in 1998 the Midland was in a sorry state. Shabby in appearance, its rotting window frames, leaking roofs and peeling paintwork were proof that the years of neglect had taken their toll.
In 2001 the Midland Hotel was bought by a company called Kalber Leisure with the aim of transforming the now almost derelict building into a 1930s themed 5* luxury hotel. However, due to financial problems this grandiose scheme never came to fruition and a year later the Midland was back on the market.
In a state of disrepair The Midland Hotel was forced to close its doors in 1998, and to prevent vandalism the Council boarded up all the doors and windows. The Midland Hotel stood derelict, empty and left haunting the sea front of Morecambe for nearly a decade. A blight on the promenade, the building was threatened with demolition – a move strongly opposed by the Friends of the Midland, a group set up by concerned locals to save the hotel.
Finally, in 2006 the Manchester based property developer Urban Splash commenced the restoring and refurbishing the building. A spectacular restoration, with all the original artworks painstakingly restored to their former glory, bringing Eric Gill’s masterpieces and Oliver Hill’s vision back in to the 21st Century. The doors were opened to the public in 2008 and was once more loved by the public.
Celebrating it’s 80th Anniversary, with 44 all-new boutique-style rooms, this modern day masterpiece brings seaside chic back in style and everything that made The Midland so special in its glamorous heyday has been restored and reinvented for a new generation.
The Midland Hotel was used in filming episodes of the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet, in 1989, most notably in the episode ‘Double Sin’ where the name of the hotel is mentioned by one of the characters – Captain Hastings.
So this time we had 18 entries of which 16 were correct! Using a random number generator, it’s time to announce the winner…*drum roll please*…
And so, the December 2013 Winner of £100 of LPC Furniture Vouchers goes to the lucky: Lauren Armstrong!
Congratulations Lauren! And thank you to everyone who entered.