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Bring Me Sunshine

September 19, 2011

A few weeks ago I had the very good fortune to be booked to sing at a wedding reception in Morecambe, Lancashire.  I set out early to give myself plenty of time at the resort as the day promised the three-fold pleasure of a trip to the Great British seaside, singing at the iconic Midland Hotel and the opportunity to see Graham Ibbeson’s sculpture of one of my heroes, Eric Morecambe.

The weather, sadly, was dire – rain and wind – but nothing could dampen my delight at getting up close to Eric, even if it was only his statue.

Bring Me Sunshine. Please!

Morecambe and Wise’s theme-song, “Bring Me Sunshine”, took on a whole new meaning as I played Ernie Wise to the larger-than-life bronze Eric in the pouring rain.

Simon with Graham Ibbeson's bronze statue of Eric Morecambe

The statue is surrounded by quotes from the duo’s famous routines set into the paving:

"Tea, Ern?"

Including my absolute favourite:

"He'll never sell any ice-cream going at that speed!"

But of course the real reason for my long drive up the M6 was to sing at the evening reception of Maxine and Neil at The Midland Hotel which sits on the seafront at Morecambe.

The Midland Hotel, Morecambe, designed by architect Oliver Hill

The Midland Hotel, designed by architect Oliver Hill, opened its doors in 1933 and was, in its heyday, the destination of choice for the  descerning wealthy traveller.  The fortunes of the hotel declined in the latter half of the twentieth-century and as the new millennium dawned the building was empty and in a state of woeful disrepair.  In 2004 it was purchased by developers Urban Splash who restored The Midland and reopened it as a hotel in 2008.  The hotel’s current owners are English Lakes Hotels.

Due to the weather and failing light I couldn’t properly capture the grandeur of the exterior which is now considered a classic of Art Deco design, but I was able to take pictures of some of the fabulous period features inside the hotel that survive from it’s original incarnation including the stunning spiral staircase.  It reminded me of an M.C. Escher drawing.

The spiral staircase at The Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Lancashire

Sculptor and engraver Eric Gill was comissioned by architect  Oliver Hill  to create several stunning works for the hotel including a carved circular medalion which adorns the ceiling at the top of the spiral staircase.

Eric Gill's ceiling medallion at the Midland Hotel

It depicts a sea god attended by mermaids and is surrounded by the words “And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn“.

The Midland Hotel's ceiling medallion

Eric Gill's ceiling medallion detail

Behind the hotel’s reception desk there is another Eric Gill work, a huge bas-relief entitled “Odysseus Welcomed From the Sea by Nausicaa” carved from six tonnes of Portland stone.

"Odysseus Welcomed From the Sea by Nausicaa"

Maxine and Neil’s wedding was a beautifully stylish affair and their vintage theme was perfect for the Midland Hotel.  I had been asked to open the evening’s entertainment with a one-hour set chosen from my repertoire of 1930s and 40s songs.  It was a particular pleasure, and honour, to sing their first dance, “On the Street Where You Live”.  There was dancing-a-plenty, for which Maxine had thoughtfully provided dancing shoes for those needing suitable footwear!

Dancing shoes!

Sadly, the hour was over all too soon, but it was hugely enjoyable.  I wish Maxine and Neil every happiness for the future and look forward to visiting Morecambe again someday, hopefully accompanied by some sunshine next time!

Simon with Maxine and Neil at their wedding at The Midland Hotel in Morecambe

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 26, 2011 4:56 pm

    Thank you for such wonderful photos of such a great hotel! What a truly wonderful place for a wedding! I think I might have to persuade husband to take me there, the style is wonderful. Love the pics of you with Eric too. 🙂 Oh, and while I’m here I’d like to thank you for your efforts for MERUK. (I know your lovely sister online)

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