Days Morecambe caught fire with Peter Wade
It’s well over five years since the last major fire in Morecambe which destroyed Megazone (previously Tussaud & Nicholson’s waxworks and before that the Whitehall Cinema) on the West End Promenade in 2014.
Other fires destroyed the Ranch House (the last survivor of Frontierland aside from the Polo Tower) and part of the Cyclone Rollercoaster.
Seaside attractions, especially the older ones which were often temporary wooden structures, were always vulnerable to the twin perils of fire and storm.
First to go up in smoke was the pavilion on the West End Pier at Easter in 1917. It had lasted little more than 20 years.
Next was the pavilion on the Central Pier whose end in 1933 drew large crowds onto the promenade to watch. By the same architects as the West End Pavilion and the brick-built Winter Gardens, William Mangnall and John Littlewood, this
one had lasted 35 years. Unlike the West End Pier, a structure was soon built to take its place complete with Marine Ballroom and Concert Pavilion.
The Imperial Hotel on Regent Road fell victim to fire in 1949 but was only re-built well into the 1950s.
Morecambe’s busiest day for fires was Wednesday 24th June 1970. The alarm was first raised when the box office attendant at the Alhambra, Irene Chapman, smelt smoke coming from the top floor auditorium. Smoke could also be smelt in
the first floor Tropicana Restaurant where diners were just finishing lunch. Twenty fire appliances raced to the scene from across Lancashire and south Cumbria.
The fire was brought under control within an hour but the theatre had been gutted with the auditorium open to the sky. F
Fortunately there were no casualties though drag artist Bunny Lewis who had rushed back from judging that afternoon’s Miss Great Britain bathing beauty competition had lost about £3,000 worth of costumes.
Among the crowds gathered to watch the Alhambra fire was Peter Latham, owner of another of Morecambe’s attractions, the Moby Dick, a wooden sailing ship moored near the Super Swimming Stadium. As he watched events at the
Alhambra, news spread through the crowd that the Moby Dick was also ablaze.
The fire on board had been spotted by Jack Mount as he was opening up for the day’s visitors. All he had to hand to fight the flames was a kettle and bucket. With the help of staff from nearby Kiddieland, a chain of buckets was set up but, with
the fire taking hold as tar melted in the heat and a delay in transferring a fire engine from the Alhambra, hope of saving the Moby Dick slipped away.