Category Archives: Fun Palaces (seaside)

Blackpool’s Big Wheel

Former Big Wheel Café, St Michael-on-Wyre, Lancashire

Regular clients on Mike Higginbottom Interesting Times tours are used to finding that the tour contains more than the outline promises.

This isn’t simply perverse marketing:  sometimes opportunities arise at the last minute, too late to advertise, and I like to have a reputation for providing more than it says on the tin.

The guests on the Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage (July 10th-15th 2013) tour were mystified to be taken to see Judith Hunter’s conservatory next to her caravan-site in St Michael’s-on-Wyre, a few miles inland from Blackpool.

I told them they would see perhaps the only surviving relic from the Blackpool Winter Gardens’ Big Wheel.

The Big Wheel, along with the Empress Ballroom, was the Winter Gardens manager Bill Holland’s response to the arrival of the Tower in 1894.

The Ballroom was a great success, and provoked the Tower Company to embellish their assembly room into the Tower Ballroom.

The 220ft-high Big Wheel of 1896 largely failed to compete with the higher, simpler Tower, except in one respect:  in quiet periods (there were many) young men escorting young ladies sometimes bribed the attendant to hold the Wheel for a time when their carriage was at the top.

When the Tower Company took over the Winter Gardens in 1928, almost their first act was to dismantle the Wheel.

The thirty carriages were auctioned off as garden sheds and summer houses, and Judith’s was bought by Miss Edith Swallow, the first matron of Blackpool Orphanage, to serve as a holiday home for the orphan girls.

For some years Judith used it as a café but now she keeps it for private use.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Fun Palaces:  the history and architecture of the entertainment industry please click here.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

The People’s Caterer

Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Lancashire

Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Lancashire

The great rival of Thomas Sergenson, Blackpool’s late-Victorian theatre impresario, was William Holland (1837-1895), “the People’s Caterer”, who first made his name managing the Canterbury Music Hall, Lambeth [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canterbury_Music_Hall].

Bill Holland was employed by the Winter Gardens Company specifically to counter the competition from Sergenson.

Against the opposition of a number of Winter Gardens directors, including the chairman, Dr Cocker, Bill Holland proposed and carried through the construction of the predecessor of the present-day Opera House, designed by Frank Matcham and built in nine months flat at a cost of £9,098.  It opened with a D’Oyly Carte production, The Yeomen of the Guard, on June 10th 1889.

As part of the same project, Frank Matcham redesigned the Winter Gardens Pavilion in the form of a proscenium-arched theatre.

Holland promoted an all-day admission charge of 6d which included operatic ballet spectaculars directed by John Tiller.  Fixed budget catering also appealed to thrifty Blackpool holidaymakers:  “One Shilling Dinner and One Shilling Tea.  Plenty of Everything.  Help Yourself!” 

Bill Holland apparently owned an old grey parrot, which he had trained to say “Going to see Bill Holland’s ballet?”  For the Winter Gardens, he initiated The Great Parrot Scheme:  he bought a hundred parrots, each in a cage marked “Blackpool Winter Gardens – Two Shows Daily”.

The birds were lined up in rows four deep and trained to repeat the grey parrot’s message and were allegedly placed all the leading hotels and restaurants of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The total investment in the Opera House and associated extensions cost the Winter Gardens Company approximately £14,000:  gross receipts trebled between 1887 and 1891 to £36,000 and the dividend reached 8%.

In response to the opening of the Tower in 1893, Bill Holland persuaded the directors to install electric lighting throughout the Winter Gardens at a cost of £3,307, and to pay an additional £975 to buy out Dr Cocker’s 1875 covenant against dancing, so that he could plan the Empress Ballroom, designed by Mangnall & Littlewood of Manchester (who shortly afterwards built Morecambe’s Victoria Pavilion), with a barrel-vault roof, a balcony promenade and a proscenium stage. 

The Empress Ballroom was at the time one of the largest in the world, 189ft × 110ft, with a dancing-area of 12,500 square feet.

The Art Nouveau decorative scheme included plasterwork by J M Boekbinder and twenty-eight Doulton tile panels of female figures symbolising jewels by William J Neatby.

It opened in 1896, the year after Bill Holland’s death.

The Tower Company paid him a posthumous compliment by refurbishing their somewhat functional Assembly Hall as the sumptuous Tower Ballroom.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all:  the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside:  the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

Falcon Lift

Falcon Lift, Douglas, Isle of Man

Falcon Lift, Douglas, Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is an astonishing repository of archaic technology that has survived against the odds.

Only now, after fifty years of neglect, is the Cunningham’s Camp Escalator being dismantled as dangerous.  I trust that the admirable Manx Museum will rescue as much of its parts as possible to restore as a static exhibit sometime in the future.

Another relic lingers on Douglas seafront, high up on the cliffs.

The Falcon Lift was constructed in 1927 by William Wadsworth & Co of Bolton to connect a hotel and dance pavilion with the promenade:  http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/towns/douglas/fcliff.htm.

It was the second lift on the site:  an earlier funicular on a different alignment, built in 1877, had been transported to Port Soderick at the far end of the Marine Drive in 1898.

The existing Falcon Lift isn’t a funicular with two balancing cars.  It’s simply a lift, and it’s been sitting at the top of its track since the hotel closed in 1990:  http://www.hows.org.uk/personal/rail/iom.htm.

It’s simply not possible to preserve everything that might be interesting, but for the moment the Falcon Lift remains, like much else on the Isle of Man, because no-one has seen the need to get rid of it.

The 72-page, A4 handbook for the 2014 Manx Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps, a chronology and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

Cleethorpes

Central Promenade & Pier, Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire

Central Promenade & Pier, Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire

Some time ago I wrote a Facebook entry about my local butcher’s disappointment when he visited Cleethorpes for the first time in decades.  The place wasn’t what it used to be, he said, fifty years ago.

Shortly afterwards, my friend Marion remarked how much the children at her grandson’s primary school had enjoyed a day in Cleethorpes.

Apparently the school is in a fairly deprived area, and some of the kids had never actually been to the seaside.  It proved impossible to get them off the beach:  the sand and the sea were all they wanted.

That’s the magic of the seaside, yet Cleethorpes is entirely a commercial creation, the unlikely joint enterprise of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway, who had built the line out to Grimsby to exploit the fish docks, and the dons of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, who owned 56% of the land enclosed by an Act of 1842 that specifically allocated to them 2½ acres of coastline.

The railway to Cleethorpes was opened in 1863:  in August that year 40,000 Primitive Methodists attended a tea meeting, three-quarters of them arriving by train.

By 1892 the railway company owned the entire foreshore between Grimsby and Cleethorpes.  George Dow, the railway historian, declared that Cleethorpes was one of the best investments the MS&L possessed.

Like most British seaside resorts, Cleethorpes is indeed a shadow of its former self, though you can by a quirk of railway geography get a train there direct from Manchester Airport.

Cleethorpes’ most successful sons are the actor, Patrick Wymark (1926-1970), and Rod Temperton (born 1947), member of the band Heatwave and writer of – among much else – the title track of Michael Jackson’s album, Thriller (1984).

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2016 ‘Humber Heritage’ tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

Pleasure Beach

Casino, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire

Casino, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire

Apart from being great fun, the Pleasure Beach has a long, proud history as part of Blackpool’s entertainment culture and as a hugely successful business dedicated, in the words of its former director, Leonard Thomson, to “separating the public from their money as painlessly and pleasurably as possible”.

Leonard Thomson was the son-in-law of one of the co-founders of the Pleasure Beach, William George Bean, who brought an American Hotchkiss Bicycle Railway to Blackpool’s South Shore in 1895 and collaborated with a Yorkshire meat-trader, John W Outhwaite, to import other rides from Coney Island to set up a permanent fairground on what had previously been a gypsy encampment.

Their ambition was to create, in the words of W G Bean, “…an American Style Amusement Park, the fundamental principle of which is to make adults feel like children again and to inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character”.

In 1906 they contracted for an electricity supply from the Tramways Department, which meant that the rides could operate into the evening, which in turn increased the traffic on the tramway.

When the Corporation widened the Promenade across the site in 1913, Bean and Outhwaite secured an advantageous agreement that no amusement facilities or tram services would be permitted further south for fifteen years.

Their price for varying this agreement when the trams were extended to Starr Gate in 1926 was that all trams made a compulsory stop at the Pleasure Beach, and those trams terminating there showed the destination “Pleasure Beach” rather than “South Shore” – providing free advertising that continues to this day.

When Leonard Thompson died in 1976 his widow Doris became Chairman and their son, Geoffrey Thompson, Managing Director.  Mrs Thompson made a point of testing each new ride as recently as 2002 when, aged 99, she rode the Spin Doctor.

Geoffrey Thompson ran the company until his death at the age of 67 in June 2004:  his mother died, aged 101, shortly after her son’s funeral.

The company is now operated by Geoffrey’s children, Amanda and Nicholas Thompson.

The Pleasure Beach website is at Blackpool Pleasure Beach: UK’s Most ICONic Theme Park.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all:  the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside:  the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

Midland Hotel, Morecambe

Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Lancashire

Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Lancashire

The Midland Hotel, Morecambe (1933) – an unlikely building in an unlikely setting – is one of the finest examples of Streamline Moderne (late Art Deco) architecture in Britain.  Its heyday lasted barely six years, until the outbreak of war.  After that, it became progressively difficult to operate, until it was rescued, sumptuously renovated and reopened in June 2008 by the developer Urban Splash.

Its railway-owned predecessor dated back to 1848, to the very beginnings of the resort that became Morecambe, and the Promenade Station was constructed in 1907 specifically to bring trains as close as possible to the hotel’s front door.

By the early 1930s the old hotel was badly out of date, and in January 1932 the directors of the London Midland & Scottish Railway approved plans to replace the 1848 building with “a building of international quality in the modern style”, designed by Oliver Hill (1887-1968) on a budget of slightly less than £72,000.  The new building rose from the lawn of the old hotel, which was subsequently demolished.

Oliver Hill was at the height of his career in the 1930s:  after starting out designing picturesque Arts & Crafts cottages, he embraced the visual potential of the Moderne style, of which his best designs, in addition to the Morecambe Midland Hotel, are the partially-built Frinton Park Estate in Essex (1934-6) and the house Landfall (1938), near Poole in Dorset.

His attributes were an eye for unifying architecture with decoration, and his adventurous use of materials such as concrete, chrome and vitrolite.  The result was a building that, in the words of the Architectural Review, “rises from the sea like a great white ship, gracefully curved”.

Hill’s brief for the Midland Hotel enabled him to recruit the best available decorative artists while maintaining full control of the building’s aesthetic programme.

The sculptor and designer Eric Gill (1882-1940) designed and carved for the façade two Portland stone seahorses in the form of the celebrated Morecambe Bay shrimps, a ten-foot Neptune and Triton medallion above the central staircase, a bas-relief, Odysseus welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa, and a map of North West England, painted in oil by his son-in-law Denis Tegetmeier.

In the circular café were originally murals by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) of the seaside by day and by night.  These quickly deteriorated, and one mural was reconstructed by London Weekend Television set-designers for the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot in 1989.

The floor of the entrance hall was embellished with a mosaic seahorse and circular, wave-patterned hand-knotted rugs by Marion Dorn (1896-1964), who also worked on the Berkeley, Clarides and Savoy Hotels in London and the Cunard liner Queen Mary.

The new hotel opened on Wednesday July 12th 1933, and quickly attracted celebrities in search of luxury and privacy within easy reach of London, performers from the Winter Gardens and other theatres, and Yorkshire businessmen who commuted by railway club carriage to Leeds or Bradford through the summer months.

It’s interesting that the LMS Railway thought it worthwhile to cater for the most affluent members of British society in the north of England.  After the war and nationalisation the British Transport Commission could hardly get rid of it fast enough.

There are images of the Midland Hotel as it stood before Urban Splash took it on at http://www.abandoned-britain.com/PP/midlandhotel/1.htm.

The Midland Hotel is now operated by English Lakes:  http://englishlakes.co.uk/hotels/lancashire-hotels/the-midland-hotel-morecambe.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

Morecambe Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens, Morecambe, Lancashire

Winter Gardens, Morecambe, Lancashire

What is now called Morecambe Winter Gardens isn’t in fact the Winter Gardens at all.  It’s the Victoria Pavilion, built in 1897 alongside the original Winter Gardens and Empress Ballroom of 1878.

The original complex began as the People’s Palace, built for the Morecambe Bath & Winter Gardens Company to provide entertainment, baths and an aquarium, on the lines of the Scarborough People’s Palace & Aquarium (1875-7) and the Great Yarmouth Aquarium (1876).

The Victoria Pavilion was designed by the Manchester-based practice Mangnall & Littlewoods which had already designed the Morecambe West End Pier and Pavilion in 1895-6, and were then working on the Central Pier Pavilion and the Hotel Metropole at the same time as the Victoria Pavilion.

The Winter Gardens closed in 1977, and the adjacent Ballroom was demolished in 1982 on the specious grounds that the replacement development would finance restoration of the Pavilion.

In fact it didn’t:  the Friends of the Winter Gardens were formed in 1986 and its current owners are the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust Ltd [http://www.thewintergardensmorecambe.co.uk/home], established in 2006 to take on the huge task of making the theatre fit to earn its own living once more.

It’s a magnificent building, inside and out, listed Grade II*, and one of the few remaining Victorian structures in a resort that has not stood the test of time.

The Theatres Trust identifies it as “a rare type, probably now unique” – a large-scale concert-party auditorium, very broad in relation to the width of the proscenium and the size of the stage.

It was used as a location for the Laurence Olivier film The Entertainer in 1959.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Fun Palaces:  the history and architecture of the entertainment industry please click here.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

 

 

The resort that never was

Ravenscar, North Yorkshire

Ravenscar, North Yorkshire

Ravenscar is the highest point on the Yorkshire coast between Scarborough and Whitby.  Until the end of the nineteenth century it was simply called Peak.

Peak House, latterly Raven Hall, was built in 1773 by the owner of the local alum works, Captain William Childs.  He bequeathed it to his daughter Ann, widow of the Dr Francis Willis (1718-1807) who treated King George III in his apparent insanity.  Their son, Rev Dr Richard Willis, was a notorious gambler and a reputed smuggler.  There is an enjoyable tale of the estate being lost on a bet over two lice crossing a saucer:  in fact, it was mortgaged by Mr William Henry Hammond, who foreclosed and took over the property in 1845.

W H Hammond went to inordinate lengths to sponsor a railway link between Scarborough and Whitby, though he died in 1884, three months before the line opened.

The railway was absurd:  gradients of 1 in 39 and 1 in 41 meant that locomotives often stalled and had to take a run at the summit.  Hammond insisted that the track ran through his estate in a practically unnecessary tunnel.  Passenger trains from Scarborough to Whitby had to reverse to enter both termini.

In 1890 Hammond’s daughters sold the estate to the Peak Estate Company for £10,000, and by 1895 the house was extended and converted into a hotel “replete with every modern convenience”, and the surrounding land was laid out as a holiday resort of 1,500 building plots with roads and mains drainage and a public water-supply.

The North Eastern Railway was persuaded to rename the station “Ravenscar” in 1897 and to provide a passing loop and second platform.  Regular land-sales were held from 1896 onwards, for which free lunches and special trains from the West Riding towns were provided.

In fact, barely a dozen houses were ever built.  One sad boarding house, clearly intended as part of a terrace, stands in the fields that would have been the Marine Esplanade.  On one occasion the station waiting-room blew away in a storm.

The Ravenscar Estate Company apparently went into liquidation in 1913, but sales were continued until after the Great War.  Building a seaside resort seven hundred feet above sea level was perhaps not a good idea.

Still, from time to time, hopeful descendants of the original purchasers appear at Ravenscar clutching deeds they have found among family papers:  their reactions on seeing their inheritances are, by all accounts, uniform and entirely understandable.

The railway, which closed in 1965, now forms part of the Cleveland Way trail:  http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ClevelandWay/index.asp?PageId=1.  Ravenscar is also the terminus of the celebrated Lyke Wake Walk:  see http://www.lykewake.org.

However you get there, don’t miss tea at the Raven Hall Hotel [http://www.ravenhall.co.uk] with a log fire and the view across to Robin Hood’s Bay.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all:  the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside:  the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.

The 72-page, A4 handbook for the 2015 Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

End of the line: Fleetwood

North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood, Lancashire

North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood, Lancashire

We purposely located the 2012 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour at the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood [http://www.northeustonhotel.com],– not only for its comfort and quietness but because it’s significant in the history of the Lancashire coast.

Its name indicates that it was once the northern terminus of the railway from London’s Euston Station, at a time when George Stephenson proclaimed that no locomotive would ever manage the climb over Shap to the Scottish border.

The town of Fleetwood was planned and named by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood (1801-1866) as the transhipment point between the Preston & Wyre Railway, which opened in 1840, and the steamer service to Ardrossan which was connected by rail to Glasgow.

This worked fairly well until what we now call the West Coast Main Line opened over Shap in 1847.  By that time Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood had gone bankrupt, and though Fleetwood harbour in time served other purposes, its railway remained forever on a branch line from Preston.

The grandly curving hotel was designed by Decimus Burton as part of Fleetwood’s intended holiday resort.

The hotel’s first manager, a Corsican called Zenon Vantini, was responsible for the first railway-station refreshment-room, at Wolverton, and ran the Euston and Victoria Hotels in London.

Opened in 1841, it was eventually bought by the War Department as a School of Musketry for Officers, and reopened in 1861 as the Euston Barracks.

Vantini took a lead, in conjunction with the first vicar of Fleetwood, Rev Canon St Vincent Beechey (son of the painter William Beechey), in founding the Northern Church of England School in 1844.

This school later took the name Rossall School [http://www.rossall.co.uk] after it leased and then bought the Rossall Hall estate from Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood.

Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood died in such poverty that his estate could not pay for his funeral.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all:  the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside:  the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

Fishy business

Former Royal Aquarium, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Former Royal Aquarium, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

The Hollywood Cinema on Great Yarmouth’s seafront commemorates a time when local businessmen hoped to make money out of people watching fish.

Yarmouth entrepreneurs hoped to build on the success of the Brighton Aquarium of 1872 by offering “aquaria exhibitions, combined with attractions of a more special and amusing nature” which meant restaurants, billiard rooms, croquet lawns and a skating rink in what a modern journalist described as “a grotesque mock Gothic cathedral of leisure”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, less than half the required £50,000 capital was forthcoming, and the London promoters of the Great Yarmouth & Eastern Counties Aquarium Company pulled out, leaving local shareholders to lower their sights and open a more modest facility which failed to attract visitors.

A contemporary commented that “wretched management was not an unimportant factor”:  the magistrates’ refusal of a drama licence was unhelpful;  apart from watching the fish which – to be fair – included sharks, giant crabs, conger eels, turtles, porpoises and octopi, with crocodiles, alligators and seals in large ponds, the entertainments on offer were the skating rink, military bands, refreshments and a reading room.  The Prince of Wales visited in 1881.  The place closed down in 1882.

The building reopened as the Royal Aquarium, extended at the cost of a further £10,000, in 1883.  The major asset of the reopened building was its new manager, an Edgware Road caterer, John William Nightingale.  He engaged such crowd-pulling celebrities as Sir Ernest Shackleton, Oscar Wilde, General William Booth and David Lloyd George.

There’s clearly limited demand for gazing at fish.  The Scarborough People’s Palace & Aquarium of 1875-7 [see Scarborough’s Rotunda] ultimately became an amusement arcade.

J W Nightingale became a power in the Great Yarmouth entertainment industry:  by the time of his death in 1911, he had purchased the Royal Aquarium, bought and replaced the old wooden Britannia Pier and also owned the Theatre Royal, the Royal Assembly Rooms and the Royal and Victoria Hotels.

In 1925 the Aquarium tanks were stripped out and a second “Little Theatre” auditorium added.

In a further refurbishment in 1970, the remaining evidence of the original Aquarium decoration briefly came to light.  In what had been the Grand Saloon, 193 feet by 60 feet, Doulton tiling depicting freshwater birds on one side and sea-birds on the other was found in situ, and a bread-oven was discovered in the basement, extending thirty feet under Euston Road.

When I ran the Norfolk’s Seaside Heritage tour in September 2011 I asked the manager, Paul Allen, if there was any possibility of seeing these remains.

Understandably he was disinclined to rip up the floorboards on a Saturday morning.

One day in the future, when this long-lived building is adapted to yet another use, vestigial remains of its original purpose will once again see daylight.

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all:  the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside:  the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.