The First Midland | Changing Times | The New Hotel | Works of Art
The Golden Age | The War Years | Post War Decline

The Golden Age

The new Midland Hotel opened on Wednesday 12th July 1933. Although the 'Visitor' had stated that there would not be a public ceremony, by 1 o'clock a crowd of some 500 people had turned up in front of the hotel, but there was nothing for them to see.

Inside, a gathering of VIPs, local dignitaries and other guests enjoyed a celebratory luncheon of iced melon or shrimps, cold soup, a main course of salmon or lamb followed by strawberries and ice cream and coffee - all served on the hotel's specially commissioned tableware.

The Earl of Derby toasted the success of the new hotel and complimented the LMS on providing a magnificent building, which set an example for others to follow.

Sir Josiah Stamp, President of LMS, said he had recently seen the most up-to-date hotel accommodation in Chicago, Copenhagen and Stockholm, embodying the latest modernism, cubism and other 'isms' but the new Midland Hotel eclipsed them all.

The new hotel opened to widespread critical acclaim. 'Architecture Illustrated' devoted an entire issue to the Midland, while other publications were equally enthusiastic.

A correspondent from 'Country Life' magazine was so captivated by the illuminated spiral staircase that he likened it to " a fairy staircase that one would willingly climb till it reached to heaven."

Immediately after its opening the Midland became the place to stay and quickly attracted the wealthy middle classes from across the north of England. Prosperous Yorkshire mill-owners and businessmen took whole suites for the summer, travelling by Pullman train to Leeds and Bradford in the morning and to Morecambe in the evening. Socialites came from even further afield, in pursuit of luxurious escapism.

Theatre stars performing at the nearby Winter Gardens were frequent guests - George Formby, Jimmy Clitheroe, Billy Bennett, and big band leaders such as Geraldo, Harry Roy, Ambose, Joe Loss and Jack Payne. Parties went on right through the night.

The hotel's weekly dinner dances were very popular, both with residents and those townspeople who could afford the entrance fee of 10/6, the same as a night's stay in one of the resort's guesthouses. For the less well off there was always the American Bar which became the place to be seen for those locals wanting to make an impression.

Rumours abound of famous people said to have passed through the Midland's doors during this time, such as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Gloria Vanderbilt, Winston Churchill, Oswald Mosley, Noel Coward among many others. Most of the stories are probably no more than embroidered hearsay and any documentation, such as the pre-war visitors' books, has long since disappeared.

The heyday of the Midland was short - a little over six years. It came to an abrupt end with the declaration of war in September 1939. Within hours all the guests had gone, with Sir Henry Wood and music hall star Florrie Ford reputedly the last to leave.