The Midland Hotel has had a very chequered history and drove many of its consecutive owners to bankruptcy. It last closed down in September 2000 and has since suffered from both vandalism and damp. A private company seeking to turn it into a five star 1930s themed hotel bought it in June 2001. Fortunately it is listed at Grade II*, hence in the top 5% of all listed buildings. Such a high grade is only awarded to buildings of exceptional quality and consistency, and the utmost care should be taken in bringing it back to its former glory [click here for an aerial view and for a view of the cafe].
The Society feels that it is imperative to commission a Conservation Plan, as well as having a full condition survey conducted, in order to gain a thorough understanding of the extent of original fabric, fittings and furnishings surviving.
Oliver Hill was an accomplished designer and architect and we feel that the integrity of his accomplishment at Morecambe must be safeguarded. The problem we face now is the conversion of an outdated 1930s hotel into a five star facility. This entails bigger bedrooms, en suite commodities, swimming pool and large function rooms… hence a much larger footprint than presently offered and therefore the need to extend the hotel.
We presently have strong reservations about the architectural treatment of the proposed extension, and disapprove of its pastiche style. It lacks the subtlety and detailing of the original architect and appears somewhat heavy-handed. The extension also has a most unfortunate effect and changes the original focus from the north to the south end of the building. It ought to have a clear independent language and be read as a separate entity. The treatment and detailing of the junction will be crucial.
Hill also paid very careful attention to the way in which the building was approached and we feel that this should be reflected in the proposals. For example, it is proposed to add a circular feature in the centre of the rebuilt sun lounge terrace. This would compromise the composition of the original design and effectively stop the visual flow of the most important elevation of the hotel. The original footprint was asymmetrical and this should be respected.
As previously stated, the Midland belongs to the top 5% of all British listed buildings and therefore we feel it would be advisable to hire the services of an experienced conservation architect to bring the sphinx back from the ashes.
Watch this space for the next instalment of the Midland Grand saga…
10/2001 Building of the Month – Gavin Stamp
09/2002 Midland Hotel, Morecambe update – Emmanuelle Morgan