Morecambe is situated on the west coast of Lancashire. Morecambe Bay is the second-largest bay in the UK, after The Wash. Across it, Walney Island and Barrow-in-Furness can clearly be seen. It is the largest continuous intertidal area in the whole of Britain and is one of the most important marine sites in the UK - perhaps even the most important. Morecambe Bay has been designated a European marine site - it became a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the European Habitats Directive and a Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the European Birds Directive.
Morecambe, known in the early 19th-Century as Poulton-le-Sands, was a small fishing village which then developed as a tourist attraction. One of its most famous attractions was its pier: however, the pavilion, which opened in 1896 with amusement arcades and a theatre, was destroyed by a fire in 1915. In 1927, another severe storm nearly broke the pier in half and some time later it had to be knocked down as it was unsafe. In the mid-1990s the multi-million-pound Tern project aimed to put Morecambe back on the map as one of Britain's leading resorts. Annual festivals and music events are now held in the town, including the PunkFestival, a free firework display and an annual golf festival.
The Midland Grand Hotel is another ambitious regeneration project. The hotel was built in 1933 but was forced to close in 1998. After a few unsuccessful owners, there was concern that the building would become a eyesore and there was a serious risk that the hotel would have to be demolished. In 2004 a developer was found and work has now started. Frontierland opened in 1909 as West End Amusement Park. It was renamed Morecambe Pleasure Park but then totally reinvented as a Wild West theme park, Frontierland, in 1987. It closed in 2000, when most of the rides were demolished. Morrisons used some of the park to build a supermarket while the rest of the park is still wasteland.
Heysham, pronounced hee-sham is a minute's drive from Morecambe Promenade and is a large village which overlooks Morecambe Bay, though is probably best known for its two AGR1 nuclear power stations. Heysham Stage One was opened in 1983 and will keep running until 2014. Heysham Stage Two was opened in 1988 and will keep running until 2023.
Heysham Port is a major freight link between the UK, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Europe. The advantages of using Heysham Port are:
- There are good motorway connections.
- The railway links to the port.
- A large area of land is available for the port's use.
- It has an experienced workforce.
- A ship repair service is available as well as a diving team and HM Customs.
- Most vessels can arrive and leave at any state of the tide.
The Five Quays in Heysham Port
North Quay - The North Quay is 290 metres long, 140 metres of which is dedicated to British Gas for marine supplies which service the oil fields in the East Irish Sea. Another 4,600 square metres is devoted to warehouses and offices, with 150 metres set aside for more general purpose
Fish Quay - The Fish Quay is 100 metres long and used for the importation of sea-dredged sand for use in construction.
South Quay - The South Quay is 460 metres long with an 80-tonne capacity and is used by ferry companies who run services to Douglas, the Isle of Man and the Seacat that runs a Scotland to Belfast service.
East Quay - The East Quay has two linkspans down the centre of the harbour. These linkspans have a gradient of no more than 1:8 and are capable of supporting 120 tonnes and are used by ferries. Four ship daily to Belfast and two ship daily to Dublin.
West Quay - The West Quay is 170 metres and used for new port-users.
Heysham has two sites that are looked after by the Heritage Centre. St Patrick's Chapel is a Celtic church that may date from around the 5th Century though most of it dates from the 8th or 9th Century. It is believed that St Patrick's boat landed at Heysham and built a church at St Patrick's. After his death in around 490AD some believe he was placed in on of the eight Rock Hew Graves.
St Peter's Is believed to date from around the 7th or 8th Century and is built on a old site of a old Saxon church. The early church was probably built by the Angles in the 7th Century and restored in the 10th Century.
Things to do in Morecambe
Walk on the beach or promenade
The stretch of promenade and beach goes on for about four miles. If you are planning to do the famous walk across Morecambe Bay it's probably not a good idea to walk too far out as the tide twists and turns into the Bay. There is also the risk of deep water and quicksand. You should always be accompanied by a trained guide and check the tide times, which change every year.
Happy Mount Park
Happy Mount Park is home to a stunning Japanese garden which you are welcome to walk around. It has benches which enable you to sit next to the gardens and relax and take in the peace and quiet and sea air. A mini railway runs around the park and there are also trampolines, a multi-purpose sports surface, a crazy golf paddling pool, a café, an ice cream kiosk and a picnic area.
The Festival Market is an indoor market opposite Morrisons (a large supermarket), with 108 stalls which sell all manner of things: computer games, DIY gadgets and tools, CDs, phone gadgets and kitchen accessories, to name but a few. There are also two cafés, toilet facilities and a car park.
Crown Green Bowling
If you like your sport at a very leisurely pace, you can try your hand at bowling on Regent Road, the main road which leads to the front, although you might want to enquire beforehand to see if you can hire a green.
Ten Pin Bowling
Morecambe has a Superbowl which you can find on Central Drive. This has target ramps, bumper bars, computer scoring and a diner and bar. The function suite can be hired for various occasions.
Mega Zone Laser Quest
The Mega Zone Laser Quest, situated on the front in what used to be a waxworks, is a laser shooting game for all the family. They supply all the equipment you will need and explain the rules. They also have a bar pool table and an arcade.
Eating and Drinking Establishments
There are loads of different places to eat out in Morecambe. There's a Thai restaurant, a Chinese Grill, various fish and chip Restaurants and three tea rooms, in addition to the more predictable McDonalds and Burger King.
The town also has numerous pubs: the Bradford Arms Hotel, the Bull Hotel, the Bath Hotel, the Smugglers' Den, Upstairs Downstairs, in addition to four clubs: The Baroque B (with transvestite cabaret and drag DJs) and the Waterfront Bar on Marine Road, the Carleton on the West End Promenade and The Dome, on the Promenade.
Lancaster is also known as a good venue for a fantastic night out with with many pubs to choose from, such as the Crypt and the Gregson Centre. Its nightclubs include Liquid Nightclub Revolution, The Sugar House, Toast and The Warehouse, all of which stay open until three in the morning.
Morecambe Football Club
Morecambe FC, known as The Shrimps, was formed in 1920 and took its place in the Lancashire Combination for the 1920 - 21 season. Initially the club shared a ground with Morecambe Cricket Club and people flocked to see the team. However, by the end of the first season they was close to the bottom of the table. At the end of the first season they moved to Roseberry Park (now known as Christie Park in recognition of former President, Mr JB Christie).
In the 1924 - 25 season the club won the Lancashire Junior Cup (now the ATS Trophy), but they made slow progress throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Things turned around for the Shrimps in 1974 when they won the FA Trophy, and again in the 1995 - 96 season when they gained promotion to the Conference League.
Morecambe's Claims to Fame
The Midland Hotel was used for filming part of an episode of the Belgian detective television series Poirot (an Agatha Christie adaptation). Eric Morecambe, one of Britain's best-loved comedians and half of Morecambe and Wise, the well-known and popular comedy double act from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s, was born in Morecambe (his birth name was John Eric Bartholomew, but he changed it to reflect his home town). In 1999, the Queen unveiled a Graham Ibbeson statue of Eric Morecambe, in his classic 'Bring Me Sunshine' dance position. The statue features the names of 103 celebrities who appeared with the duo, some of whom were present at its unveiling.
A Local Tragedy
Morecambe Bay hit in the national news in February, 2004 when it became the scene of a number of tragic deaths. The victims were cockle-pickers who drowned after being trapped by rising tides. In the original news story, 18 people were said to have lost their lives, but this number later rose to 21 deaths. An official investigation led to the arrests of five people in connection with the tragedy. At a court hearing in March 2006, two were cleared of any charges and two were found guilty of minor offences. However, Lin Liang Ren, was found guilty of the manslaughter of the 21 cockle-pickers, due to criminal negligence. The cockle-beds were closed in April 2005, due to dwindling fishing stocks.
In 1850 the first train ran from Leeds to the new harbour on the south side of Morecambe Bay in Poulton-le-Sands. The Railway was built by the North Western Railway and was extended from Shipley to Colne. The line curved north after the junction at Skipton which wasn't the direction it was meant to take.
They continued the railway beyond Gargrave and entered into Ribblesdale, where it climbs steeply into Ingleborough into the valley of Winning. After Clapham, there was a plan for another line that would go to Lancaster and head north to Kirkby Lonsdale, following the River Lune before joining with the Lancaster and Carlisle railway. Unfortunately, work had to stop after Ingleton due to a national recession which led to a shortage of capital. It wasn't until the Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company amalgamated that work continued and the railway finally opened in 1852.
Days Out Away From Morecambe
Blackpol is an hour and 40 minutes from Morecambe. (Head back along the A589 though both roundabouts heading out of Morecambe, taking the M6 South and leaving the motorway at junction 32. Bear left on the M55 leave the motorway at junction 4).
Fleetwood Fleetwood is an hour and 30 minutes from Morecambe - head out of Morecambe along the A589 through both roundabouts and go on the A6 at the roundabout on the A588. At the roundabout still follow signs for the A588, turning right onto A585, following the A585 for three roundabouts before following the A587).
Lancaster is very close by. If you follow the road out of Morecambe over the bridge, staying in right-hand lane, you can follow the road around, joining the junction heading back into Morecambe before getting into the left-hand lane. If you follow the local traffic you will arrive at Lancaster.
The Lake District is easily accessible if you go Regent Road, turning right onto the Coastal Road. If you follow straight on through Ambleside you will pick up signs for the Lake District.