Thursday, February 20, 2014

Back From Scarborough - A Grand View


Back from a few days in Scarborough where the weather did a passable impersonation of Spring. My photograph features just one of the windows of the magnificent Grand Hotel which stands like a Victorian Whatnot above the South Bay cliffs. When the hotel was built in 1867 it was said to be largest purpose-built hotel in Europe and it was a showcase for the kind of engineering and technological inventions that the Victorians loved. The internal plumbing delivered hot and cold freshwater and seawater and a complex system of electric bells and speaking tubes were said to put all guests in instant communication with the hotel management. A lift provided ease of access to each of the main floors from the foreshore, although according to this review in the Nottinghamshire Guardian of 18 September 1868, the experience of this contraption was a mixed one.

"My first impressions were not agreeable: it looked to me rather like a private execution "limited". I am told that some lifts are prettily fitted up; but at the Grand the apparatus is grim and bare. A grim boy stands by your side; he tells you gruffly to "stand more towards the centre"; you almost feel as if pinioned; you see a long rope, and, as he shuts the lower doors, you are metaphorically and literally, quite in the dark. Then the floor moves, and you are lifted smoothly enough I own, but still strangely. Light comes in from the top, and you see the solid walls glide downwards, as banks and trees seem to rush by the sweeeping railway train, and you get out on the fourth or fifth floor, to find yourself in your bedroom, without stirring a step "upstairs", just as in a dream, one jumps from a precipice to awaken with a start in bed. The time may come when stairs will be obsolete institutions and lifts as common as gaspipes ... but it will require some amount of use to make them agreeable"

The lift apart, the reviewer seems to have enjoyed his stay at the Grand, saying that "the waiters, nearly all foreigners, are very attentive and not rapacious", and that you can get "a drinkable Beaujolais for 2s 6d a bottle"

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the hotel sought to capture the winter tourist market by boasting that its rooms were "warmed by Haden's Apparatus (a form of early central heating which made use of steam and hot water).
Luckily, there were not too many people enjoying winter residence in January 1915 when the hotel fell victim to one of the most audacious attacks of the Great War when it was shelled by a German Battleship. Some thirty shells fell on the building and there was widespread damage to the restaurants and picture house, but luckily, nobody was killed.

11 comments:

  1. Glad you got to enjoy a little spring weather. And it doesn't even look like it was raining that day! That certainly is a grand looking hotel. Beautiful details on the front...and you even got a gull in the photo! Interesting old review there of the place. I still feel a little that way about elevators. ha. Although they have come quite a ways since then. :)

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  2. Amazing design around the windows. The hotel is very nicely brought to life with the old newspaper reports.

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  3. Oh dear, I was hoping you knew who the sculpted four bearded guys with a lion on their chests might have been. Very individually done apparently, but I know not their meaning, myth or names.

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  4. Look that window is open, I wonder what it looks like in the inside? You should have asked to see a room. Looks like it is moist there but I bet springlike was wonderful :)

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  5. First I must say, every single time I read your posts, this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dau2_Lt8pbM&feature=kp
    comes to mind. I'm listening to it right now, don't ask how many times.....! Seriously though, what a fun trip you surely had, and I am thankful you shared it with us.

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  6. "as common as gas pipes..."
    Given today's skyscrapers, more common and less obsolete.
    I too wonder about the men on the ledge.

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  7. And I am another one wondering about the guys on the ledge. A quick google search gave me nothing.
    It looks like a beautiful old hotel.

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  8. I had no idea Scarborough was bombed. I was only 9 when we moved to Filey, Flamborough and Bridlington (in that order) in 1946. I believe Bridlington was bombed once and somewhere I think I read that Flamborough was also bombed once, but I'm not sure about that. What a hotel that was! Can't say I appreciate that kind of grisly looking sculpture.

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  9. A great post. I'll be interested in your observations on the inside - if you made it in. We found it grand, but grotty - sad, badly in need of some TLC - and they were obviously trying hard for the "let's see how long we can ignore customers" award. The Germans certainly did some serious shelling on the east coast in WW1, one of the few times they ventured out.

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  10. I'm not sure if I want to be warmed by "Haden's Apparatus" even if the charges are moderate. It doesn't seem to have done those fellows standing by the window any good.

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  11. Did you go in Alan? Lovely Victorian building what a shame they had to add all those anti pigeon spikes to all the detailing.

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