Sunday, October 02, 2011

Midland Hotel, Morecambe

click photo to enlarge
The Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Lancashire was built in 1932-3 for the London, Midland and Sottish Railway Company by the architect, Oliver Hill (1888 - 1967). It replaced a Victorian design by Edward Paley, with Hill being required to construct "a building of international quality in the modern style." Hill was an architect who moved from the Arts and Crafts tradition to modernism, or at least what passed for modernism in 1930s Britain: more Art Deco or "moderne" than the full-blown European model.

His curving design at Morecambe is a fine piece of work that still looks good today. It has a main entrance elevation that faces the town and a liner-like facade overlooking the sea. When I first saw it as a child in the 1950s it impressed with its size, and its whiteness. As I grew and became more interested in architecture I liked the banded windows, the prominent, bowed and glazed central stairwell (though I could have done without the sea horses), the Mendelsohn-like curved projection at one end and the spiral entrance pillars. Over the years as the sea-side resort declined so too did the Midland Hotel. It became grubby, something of a faded beauty whose charms could only just be glimpsed beneath the weeds and peeling paintwork. However, in recent years the building has been redeveloped by Urban Splash. I say redeveloped rather than restored because some sensitive changes have been made with the result that The Midland Hotel is once more the most noticeable and architecturally most outstanding building in Morecambe.

I was pleased to be able to photograph the Midland on a day with enough sun, blue sky and clouds to capture a holiday mood that suits it. It looked stunning, though I'm not so sure about the comfort-factor of those angular cafe chairs.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Main Photo
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 32mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On