I was fortunate enough to hear about The Vintage By The Sea event through my daughter who has recently graduated from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Her good friend and fellow student Lauren Zawadzki (aka Pip’s Unimum….which is a whole other story!) was contracted to organize the vintage festival with her friend Elena Kate Gifford. The concept of Vintage Festival is the brainchild of Wayne Hemingway, fashion designer, who heralds from Morecambe. It is a testament to their dedication, organizational flair and determination that this event was a complete, resounding success.
It was held in Wayne Hemingway’s home town. I’ve never had a desperate desire to visit what is undoubtedly a geographical delight; a beautiful, sweeping bay nestling on the shore of north Lancashire with fabulous views of the Cumbrian mountains across the water. My only curiosity about the area was the refurbishment of The Midland Hotel – an art deco hotel standing proudly at the south of this coastal resort, which was allowed to fall into disrepair but given a new lease of life and lovingly restored to it’s former glory. The perfect backdrop to anything vintage, it embraced the crowds visiting the event as they wallowed unashamedly in nostalgia. Retro Heaven!
I’m not going to romanticise – Morecambe is a town in need of investment, imagination and not a little renovation. I do know there are a lot of bright, artistic and ambitious people living there who are staunchly proud of where they live and want nothing more than to see it’s resurgence. Vintage By The Sea has most certainly set the wheels of progress in motion.The council need to build on this; to utilize the talent and creativity waiting to fan the flames of this recent success and put Morecambe on the ‘place to go’ map.
The weather was glorious. Okay, it rained a little on Saturday morning but the clouds soon blew away and we were left with azure blue skies right through the weekend and provided with stunning sunsets too………..Morecambe’s sunsets rival anything you can witness on the Med, trust me! I was fortunate enough to attend both Saturday and Sunday. My original plan was to enjoy afternoon tea at The Midland Hotel on Saturday afternoon and venture further afield Sunday. After seeing what was on offer the first day, I couldn’t wait to return for more on Sunday…..and it just got better. The list of attractions are far too numerous to mention but they included a brilliant world-renowned one man band, numerous professional bands and singers, a ‘posh pooch’ and vintage car parade, Punch and Judy, fantastic dance displays encouraging anyone to join in (vintage, of course!), clothes, hair and beauty stalls, and a vintage bus/bar/disco. The evenings provided ticketed events – again definitely retro themed and concluding with a Northern Soul disco on Sunday evening. In all, something for everyone from the 1920’s onward.
In the late 1960’s, our seaside towns lost their attraction for the British public in many ways; they were discovering far off lands…exotic places like the Costa Brava and Brittany(!) offered a much more sophisticated holiday and guaranteed enviable tan. The knotted handkerchief, pasty-kneed deck chair hogger was frowned upon. Rightly so, some would say. People were ‘Scholling’ off to the Mediterranean in their droves, those who could afford it that is and possibly some who could not! They sniffed at the idea of candy floss, seagulls and wind-swept beaches. Soggy cheese sandwiches flavoured with gritty sand were discarded and paella ruled, the gastronomically discerning British holidaymaker satisfying his/her desire for more adventurous culinary delights.
I believe the (British) tide is turning; we ARE more discerning now, sophisticated too. With countless Mediterranean holidays under our belt and more and more exotic locations visited, I sense nostalgia creeping in, in harmony with the yearning for far-off lands. I’ve delighted in the wonderful work that has taken place in Southport along the sea-front and beyond, never more so than on a sunny summer’s day when it is bustling with day trippers and holiday makers alike. New Brighton also has transformed itself from a decaying, down-trodden town and continues to improve with new investment promised in the future. People DO want the foreign travel and to post photos on social media, much to the chagrin/jealousy of our cyber friends (selfies and hotdog/legsonbeach included!), but the hankering for a good old seaside experience is now viewed with affection and this is reflected in the commitment and investment being witnessed up and down the glorious, rugged coastline of Great Britain.
I just hope Morecambe council hop on board and share the same vision as the wonderful people behind Vintage By The Sea, who have proven just how amazing a holiday at the British seaside can be.