GARAGE MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 2015
Standing majestic since 1867, The Grand Hotel is an undisputed icon of the British seaside. Once representing the pinnacle of luxury in the Victorian era, it has since gathered a unique character enduring a tumultuous history of two World Wars and a century of industrialisation, while riding out numerous tourism trends. The building of The Grand Hotel was initiated in 1845 when a steam train route opened connecting Scarborough to the rest of Britain. It was the combination of train travel and a period of national stability that sparked the popularity of the seaside holiday with the leisured classes, who travelled to Scarborough to relax in the seawater spa and promenade the latest summer fashions. Designed by the well-travelled architect Cuthbert BRODERICK, it was the largest hotel in Europe at the time. Romanesque arches flanked by Italian rose marble pillars welcomed in guests, while inside the staircase was built wide enough to allow two ladies in full crinolines to pass each other.
During World War II, the hotel was recommissioned as an Air Force training base where military boots instead of diamanté slippers traipsed the staircase. In the 1920s as the middle classes grew, the introduction of the private motor car increased visitors to Scarborough and later in the 1940s, the Holidays with Pay Act enabled 11 million wage earners to take annual holidays. Parasols were replaced with sunburnt shoulders as guests to The Grand Hotel now sought freedom, fun, jazz and the thrills of the fairground.
An accomplished chameleon, the hotel kept its purpose, changing hands in the 70s and again in the 90s, continually reinventing itself through a period when the British seaside took on a sleazy, provocative flavour, immortalised by Martin PARR’s photographs.
Today, Scarborough has a post-modern charm built on nostalgia and a taste for dishevelled grandeur, that we eccentric old Brits are proud of. You’ll recognise the locals from the twinkle in their eye and their curious sense of style. If you’re lucky, you might even see the PRINCESS OF THE GRAND wandering down the promenade in her slippers. Raised by the hotel staff since birth, she collects forgotten objects and the farfetched stories of travellers, forever roaming her kingdom of the Grand Hotel.