Brucciani's, Marine Parade, Morecambe



Brucciani's table & chairs detail


Photos: Jess White

Jess White: "I once went to Brucciani's and it absolutely made my day... It would have been about 1997 and so struck was I that I thankfully took the above photos... the table, chairs, sugar and ashtray are so spot on. Wonderful." Built on the eve of war in 1939, the local paper feared that Brucciani's might not be good for the sedate Victorian image of Morecambe and that its presence could be positively harmful to young people. Originally a milk bar, Brucciani's typifies the simple, geometric 'high street deco' styling popular at the time. The brown wood and chrome exterior has black lacquer base panels to the street, porthole lamps above the doors, ziggurat pattern doors, classic deco handles and original menus. The interior preserves extensive wall panelling, a slightly reworked counter, red Formica tables, red upholstered chairs, wall-to-wall etched glass of Venetian canal scenes, mirrors, deco clocks and even the original penny-in-the-slot cubicles in the cloakrooms. That most Art Deco of confections, the Knickerbocker Glory is still served throughout the summer season.



Coastal drift...

The Independent | 22 February 2004 | by Michael Bracewell

... decaying confections of fantastical architecture, rotting art deco, the dance hall glitterball and the ornamental balustrade... faded grandeur abutting sea-front dereliction... affordable, exotic, alternately camp and luxuriously sad - a kind of gilded social realism...

To a particular kind of cultural tourist, the seaside towns of England have always articulated an extreme form of romanticism, firstly in a literary idiom which would then be updated by pop. From TS Eliot's apostatical reference to Margate Sands, through Paul Nash's essay on "Seaside Surrealism", to the "sopping esplanade" from which WH Auden predicted England's decline, the seers of British modernism set out a particular - and enduring - relationship with the ritual landscape of the English coastal holiday.

I suspect that what they found there, in the protracted twilight of Edwardian gentility, was the quality Frank Kermode described as "the sense of an ending". That in some heightened poetic way, the bandstands, ornamental gardens and chilly vistas of our old resorts held a mirror to the passing of an epoch - to the gradual dimming of an earlier gaiety.

In this, the English seaside towns have developed an allegorical identity - a mood of acute romanticism in which they recollect their past within their present. In their every detail you can glimpse an earlier age - the more so in those run-down resorts which seem to articulate Graham Greene's pronouncement that, "Seediness has a very deep appeal; it seems to satisfy, temporarily, the sense of nostalgia for something lost; it seems to represent a stage further back."

Such a relationship to nostalgia has a perverse kinship with glamour - perfect to re-enchant the whole world of pop. And as the seaside towns developed in step with the history of popular culture, so in their dance halls, wintergardens and ballrooms you can feel pop's ghosts around you...

Towards the end of the 19th century, the bravura sweep of Morecambe Bay had earned it the label, "The Naples of the North", and the resort's popularity had been confirmed in the early 1930s by the construction of Oliver Hill's breathtaking art deco Midland Hotel. By the early 1950s, the bathing beauty pageants at the Super Swimming Stadium were attended by thousands of visitors, while over at Heysham and neighbouring Middleton Sands, two big holiday camps - one built to resemble an ocean liner on dry land - combined the vivacious pleasure-seeking of the first pop age with the coast's reputation for having some of the most dramatic sunsets in the world...

the conceit of the sunset seemed to be its defining image. Morecambe had even been advertised, in the 1930s, as "The Sunset Coast", while in a more impressionistic sense the colours of the lingering twilight seemed to comprise an elegy for the long departed seaside carnival.

As a resort, Morecambe went into steep decline during the 1970s, unable to compete with the new availability of cheap holidays in Spain and Majorca, and further challenged by the construction of the dramatic but environmentally unsound reactors of a nuclear power station at Heysham. Today, the town is geared to major, and welcome, regeneration - focusing on the resurrection of the Midland Hotel as a deluxe boutique establishment, by Tom Bloxham's hugely successful Urban Splash company. Indeed, the phrase being used to describe the proposed regeneration of Morecambe is none other than "The Brighton of the North" - and the plan looks likely to succeed...

those fading grand hotels, silent boarding houses, dormant ornamental gardens and windswept piers is both an ultimate expression of Englishness and its plangent requiem - the "sense of something lost", perhaps, prompting nostalgia for a former innocence. It's a moment which John Betjeman caught in his poem a bout wartime Britain, Margate 1940, and which, at the beginning of the 21st century, seems equally relevant to the sci-fi lullaby of today's coastal drift: "And I think as the fairy-lit sites I recall/ It is those we are fighting for, foremost of all." "

The Independent

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