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