I have lived in a few different parts of the UK in my life, but Morecambe wins hands down for scenery. A seaside town in Lancashire, and is often called Morecambe Bay, for its huge tidal mud flats that dominate the seafront. You look out over the bay towards the hills of the Lake District, and in fact if you are visiting the Lakes, Morecambe makes for a lovely day trip. But if you are looking for a lively resort like Brighton or even Blackpool, then Morecambe probably isn’t the place. Its quiet, blustery with a distinct lack of nice sandy beaches even when the weather accommodates. Many parts of the town itself are run down, pound shops and discount stores are the main draw here. But, look beyond this and you will find a quiet beauty in the architecture, old shops and breathtaking views on offer.
A lot of money has been spent on the seafront area in the last few years, including lots of public art and decorative pathways alongside the more practical sea defenses. The old piers are long gone, but a new stone built pier allows you to walk out into the bay and on a cold, but wonderfully sunny winters day it is a lovely place to wander.
The bay itself is actually pretty dangerous to walk out on, with sticky mud, quick sands and deep hidden channels, you are best admiring it from the safety of the shore. But apparently, it is also like an all you can eat buffet for wading birds, so its always worth looking for oystercatchers (pictured) and listening for curlew.
Morecambe’s heyday was in the first half of the twentieth century and there are some original art deco buildings still left, albeit not to there former glory. Once building that has been restored is The Midland Hotel; a curved white monolith at the head of the pier that now boasts a restaurant, art gallery as well as hotel rooms. Nearby you cannot miss the elaborate red brick facade of The Winter Gardens. This beautiful building was once a thriving performance venue, with bar, theatre and ballroom, that fell out of use in the seventies. A trust has been set up to bring it back to life, and you can once more see bands and hold events here. The listed building still needs a lot more restoration and it has always completely dumbfounded me that no one has invested in it.
If the bracing air leaves you in need of a warm drink, then there is a hidden gem on the seafront right next door to the Winter Gardens. Bruccianis might not look much from the outside, but the inside is like stepping back in time. Built in the thirties, it still has the original wood paneling and art deco features. Make no mistakes, this isn’t a reproduction or vintage style cafe; its the real deal, right down to the Formica tables and the coin operated lock in the loo.
There is a faded vintage glamour about Morecambe that I love. And rather than hide it it, and paint over the old with the new, they are celebrating the it. Look closely and there are modern takes on the art deco style everywhere, from the street lights to railings. Every time I go, something new has appeared. Take the two new murals by Tickled Pink and commissioned by the Vintage by the Sea festival/Arts Council. Reminiscent of vintage advertising campaigns, they have turned a sub station and old toilet block into works of art, and its bloody brilliant.
I stayed around the central prom area, but there is much more to Morecambe. I used to live in an area called Bare, to the east of the town that has a lovely row of independent shops and has Happy Mount Park, a great place to take kids! If old books are your thing, the Old Pier Bookshop is a must. I am reasonably sure the upper floors are held up by books.