Friends group set up for Morecambe venue

Ian Bond.
Ian Bond.

A Friends group has been set up to support one of Morecambe’s most historic buildings.

The Friends of the Alhambra and Carleton Suite will support the West End venue as it seeks to make a comeback as a home of entertainment.

The Carleton opened again for events and functions last year after a period of closure.

Now its staff are looking for lovers of the Marine Road West building to get involved in its renaissance.

Ian Bond, owner, said he hoped a Friends group could be as successful as the Friends of the Winter Gardens who have helped Morecambe’s Grade II* listed theatre for more than 30 years.

“It would be tremendous for Morecambe if both buildings were up and running,” he said. “The Winter Gardens is a listed building and they are quite restricted in terms of what they can do. But with the Alhambra there is nothing that can restrict the vision. We can aim for the stars and come up with something incredible.”

In its heyday the Alhambra was a theatre and cinema, most famously as setting for the 1960 Sir Laurence Olivier film The Entertainer. The 116 year-old building was ravaged by fire in 1970 and then reopened its first floor as the ‘Inn on the Bay’ entertainment venue, later renamed the Carleton.

When Mr Bond first bought the Alhambra he originally wanted to convert it into flats.

But he changed his mind after the success of a ‘farewell’ dance music night at the Carleton in January 2016 and decided to accept bookings as an entertainment venue once again.

Tracy Brown, events co-ordinator at the Alhambra and Carleton Suite, said the Friends group would “raise funds to enhance the building so it becomes a destination in the West End of Morecambe.”

Upcoming events include a Morecambe Fringe Festival, a Morecambe’s Got Talent contest, a Bavarian Christmas party night and live music from rock band Hawkwind (March 30-April 1 2018).

The Fringe Festival will include a screening of The Entertainer and the opening of the Carleton’s refurbished front bar. The Friends have a Facebook page or you can call the Alhambra and Carleton Suite team on 07903 036311 or 01524 416754.