(Above: the Stone Jetty as it is today. Simpler, but deeply loved. Across the bay you can see the outlines of the Lake District hills. Image by the author)

The great Victorian steamers that used to take excited day-trippers across Morecambe Bay to glimpse the still distant splendour of the Lakeland fells are gone.

(Above: look back at Morecambe from the end of the Stone Jetty)

Much later, old and tired ships would be chained to the north side of the industrial dock and broken up for valuable iron; to be re-smelted and given new life via giant and ‘satanic’ furnaces in Salford and Sheffield.

(Above: The Stone Jetty (right) during the time of Ward’s ship-breakers; a very industrial landscape. Behind and to the right you can see the old Midland Hotel (replaced by the present Art Deco building below) and the terminus of the Midland railway that gave it its name. Photo courtesy of New Morecambe and Heysham Past and Present)

The space at the start of its length was large and open, and looked across at the terminus of the Midland Railway – the reason that Morecambe could attract so many visitors in its heyday.

And then, in the course of a the decade of the 1930s, not long after the end of the ‘Great War’, in an age when the well-off were intent on enjoying themselves, two wonderful things happened to the bleak and largely abandoned Stone Jetty.

The first was the creation at its landward end of the new Midland Hotel – an Art Deco masterpiece known across the world.

(Above: the Midland Hotel as it is today. Photo by the author)
(Above: facing the sea and the Stone Jetty, the ‘mighty Midland’ hotel retains its Art Deco charm, courtesy of the recent refurbishment. The hotel now forms the start of the restored Stone Jetty. Photo by the author)

The second was the opening of Morecambe’s state of the art ‘Super Swimming Statium’ – a giant pool that had a record-breaking capacity of 3000 people.

(Above: the Super Swimming stadium – showing the vast number (3000 max) of visitors it could accommodate. The Stone Jetty is behind and to the left. Photo from New Morecambe and Heysham Past and Present Facebook Group)

Time passed… and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flocked to Morecambe during the industrial ‘wakes weeks’ dwindled. Cheap flights and guaranteed sun drew families to spend their precious summer holidays in Spain. Morecambe suffered, badly. To this day, its promenade, though popular for day-trips, still holds a fraction of those of its Edwardian heyday.

The Super Swimming stadium is long gone, as is the much smaller ’Bubbles’ pool that replaced it. The Midland Hotel thrives, newly restored by developer Urban Splash and now owned by English Lakes group.

But the Stone Jetty remains. Simple and enduring, stretching far out into one of England’s most beautiful marine landscapes, it retains a special magic born of time, endurance and something special that no-one can define. These days it simply sports its spectacular views and a small cafe half way along its quarter kilometre length.

But, a few times a year something truly magical happens…

At certain high-tides, the sea appears to rise up and nearly engulf its structure. People flock to experience the remarkable ‘peace’ as the high-water laps quietly around its concrete and stone.

(Above: people begin to gather at the ‘end of the pier’)

People begin to gather at the end of the Stone Jetty. Everyone is quiet, as though hypnotised by the feeling of the place…

(A couple reminisce…)
(Above: Fishermen seem uninteresting in their fishing, content to just be here)
(Above: the ocean becomes a bowl of glowing light, perfectly reflected in the mirror-smooth sea)

At moments like this, I feel a new perspective emerging, one that takes us from the grime of the old ship-breakers to the splendour of nature and the potential of Morecambe Bay to fascinate and enchant, I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey though the Stone Jetty’s past and present.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

10 Comments on “Enduring Magic of the Stone Jetty

    • Yes, Geoff. Had they done so – and been restored, which would have been expensive- they would be world famous, now! The Eden Project North is hopefully in the last stages of securing the remaining government money to begin the domed marine centre there.

      Like

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