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Home > Places

Morecambe: one truly crap town

Were Dame Thora Hird to rise from the dead and see the sorry state of the town where she was born, she would head straight back to the grave and spin.

By Sam Jordison

29 November 2003

Morecambe is not even in decline - it got beyond all that some time in the early fifties. Since that final collapse it has just lain back on the hard floor of economic stagnancy and desperate boredom, spread eagled alongside the polluted and cold sea. A ridiculous kiss-me-quick hat flopping down over its unshaved cheeks, it sings tuneless songs, mumbles profanities to itself, vomits into its own hands and numbs its pains with alcohol and heroin.

The most people ever see of Morecambe nowadays is a big brown sign next to junction 34 on the M6 motorway. It's one of those signs that you get all over the country, listing all the leisure facilities, and places of interest in the town. The Morecambe sign however, just says Morecambe. The bottom half has been covered over with brown paint as all the attractions in the town have disappeared. When I was young it used to advertise Bubbles Leisure Complex, Frontierland, Happy Mount Park and The Midland Hotel. None of them (except The Midland) were any good, but at least they were there. At least Morecambe was trying. Now all the sign shows is broken dreams.

The saddest thing about Morecambe is that it was once quite beautiful. There’s always been a spectacular view across its wide sandy bay to the Lake District hills and there were some fine buildings: the wonderful Victorian Winter gardens, the magnificent art-deco edifice of The Midland Hotel.

Tragically late in the 20th century, the town authorities decided to try and compete with Blackpool rather than play to Morecambe's classier strengths. While its architectural heritage was left to rot, the town briefly became famous as the place that people from Barnsley went on holiday to, the quintessential Every Day Is Like Sunday resort and the butt of 70s comedians' jokes ("I hear they dropped an H-bomb on Morecambe the other day... destroyed the whole town... did 5 pence worth of damage.")

Now it's given up even on this. Its attractions hunch empty and unused on the seafront. A few forlorn chip shops, gaudily painted signs and boarded up buildings giving testimony to the crushed hopes and rubbish holidays of the past. The town's final attempt to break into the modern world came in the early '90s with the construction of Blobbyland, a spin off from Noel Edmunds' dire Crinkly Bottom TV franchise. It proved so disastrous (closing after 4 months) that the council had to renege on a contract they'd made with Noel Edmonds and ended up owing him millions of pounds. The bitter irony is that the residents of this poverty stricken town still have to pay extra council tax to reimburse one of the country's richest entertainers.

The last new development was a huge warehouse style supermarket right on the seafront, proving that the town council basically see the town as a 'brownfield' site.

Miraculously, however, just as Morecambe has hit bottom, it has recently been announced that a company has pledged to restore The Midland Hotel and several of the other spectacular buildings that are currently rotting on the promenade.

Who knows? Maybe in a few years Morecambe will have transformed itself into the Brighton of the North. Failing that, the only hope is that global warming will finally put the town out of its misery, and wash it back into the sea.


More on Morecambe and its many crap cousins (including Hull, Hackney and Hythe) in The Idler Book of Crap Towns

See also:

www.idler.co.uk

and:

www.craptowns.com

And if you want to buy Morecambe's website - perhaps you're a Russian oil magnate trying to sink some billions into a cosy offshore investment - you can put in an offer here.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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