Alhambra Theatre, Morecambe
Our unique venue stands on Morecambe’s sea Promenade with stunning views of the peaks of the Lake District across Morecambe Bay. We cater for music, theatre, wrestling, dance & club nights, kids’ events, any size party, weddings, birthdays, charity benefits, dance parties & conferences. Disabled access, plus bars and PA & lighting across our three different spaces.
The Alhambra Theatre was opened in 1901 as the Alhambra Palace, it took its name, though not its style, from the famous Moorish original in Granada, Spain. The building was in continuous use, with a range of entertainment and social uses, until 1970 when a fire gutted the interior.
Following extensive refurbishment the theatre reopened in 1973 as The Inn on the Bay before renaming itself The Carleton Club, becoming a major events venue and one of the great Northern soul dance clubs.
After closing in 2016, it reopened it the same year as a multi-purpose community/cultural/arts centre with capacity up to 1,100. The theatre was the central location in Morecambe where Laurence Olivier shot his iconic 1960 film version of John Osborne’s play The Entertainer – about the crumbling of British post-War society.
Contact us at: 07961 154590, email@example.com – 56 Marine Rd West, Morecambe LA4 4EU.
At the heart of Morecambe’s theatre heritage
A bit of background… Located on the coast of Morecambe Bay (the UK’s largest bay) facing the Lake District (a Unesco Heritage Site) in the county of Lancashire, Morecambe is a seaside town that is only just rediscovering its forgotten theatre heritage, having lost it for many years because of massive economic decline in the 1980s and 90s. It was once a vibrant resort, one of the biggest in the UK, but had no other industry to replace its economy when the holidaymakers stopped coming, choosing instead the cheap package holidays in the Mediterranean and beyond.
There’s a new wave of energy in the town and, rather than see itself as ‘one of the most deprived towns in the UK’, it is now ‘one of the most up and coming towns’. It’s alreday a remarkable turnaround as the town now rebuilds itself through a pioneering local community of creative people centred around the town’s West End area and repurposing the evocative old buildings in the area.
The Alhambra Theatre, where we’re based, is a good example of the progress being made in the town. The building suffered a disastrous fire in the 1970s, it was rebuilt and then became a top ‘Northern Soul’ dance club and events venue, but it eventually closed and was eventually condemned to be converted into apartments.
In 2016 it was rescued from conversion, and since then it has worked to rebuild its position as a community hub and to slowly re-establish the performing arts there. See below for our plans to build the Alhambra’s role in Morecambe and the North West of England.
But it’s not just the Alhambra. In the West End there is a steadily building network of groups that are helping the West End, Morecambe and Heysham to open doors to the community. Some, like the Alhambra, are run entirely by volunteers and use all our turnover to subsidise local events here and maintain our buildings, creating cultural assets that create spaces for art and culture: the Exchange Creative Community, Wise Up Workshops, More Music, the Exchange Pub, The Platform, and the Friends of Regent Park.
There are few locations in the UK today that can beat Morecambe’s potential, a fact recognised by the recent decision to create Eden Project North on Morecambe’s seafront. The estimated £80m plan will create a major new marine biome open to the public and due for completion in 2022. The nation’s eyes are turning to see what happens next in our town!
Morecambe was known as ‘The Lost Resort’ and so it is perhaps understandable that there isn’t much of an overview on the town’s heritage and legacy. Wikipedia has a very factual list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morecambe.
But perhaps a more rounded picture of Morecambe’s decline and future prospects is here at: https://mancunian1001.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/morecambe-the-decline-fall-and-rejuvenation-of-a-seaside-resort-part-two/
Notes on building the Alhambra’s role in the community
—What do we want? To recreate the venue as an arts centre with a strong music and theatre strand programmed throughout the year, building reputation and audience, linking always with the community and heritage of the West End, Morecambe and Heysham.
—Built at turn of the century as multipurpose theatre, closed many times, now a commitment to keep it open. Support of arts & culture and maintenance & preservation of the building are key charitable objects.
—No funding, no investment, any box office goes to maintentence/bills only, run by volunteers only, no one paid.
—Huge problem with audience building throughout the area and region because of the long-term deprived situation of the UK’s ‘forgotten resort’. Things are massively changing, especially now that Eden Project North has committed to Morecambe and the council are suddenly focused on the town.
—1,100 capacity standing, adaptable non-traditional spaces/stages inside, basic PA, no noise issues.
—Largest adaptable space in a traditional purpose-built building in the North West of England.
—Highly flexible interior, because the building was rebuilt as a club space after fire totally gutted the interior in the 1970s.
—Used mainly for community events, charity fundraisers and weddings.
Major events have been:
• Morecambe Punk Festival, now in its third year (“Three Stages, Three Days”, Nov 15-17; organiser is Lee Wood, well known punk promoter and based locally).
• Hawkeaster 2018 (three-day festival over the Easter Bank Holida Weekend, possibly Hawkwind’s last one like this, it used to be in Seaton, Devon).
• A Splendid Day Out – steam punk festival used to do music here as part of their biannual events.
• Morecambe Fringe – first year was at the Alhambra.
• Corrosion – longstanding regular monthly Goth night.
—There is a revival in arts events in the West End/borders of the West End: More Music (an Arts Council England NPO) is boosting its programme, mainly music; The Platform is reviving itself with regular events, mainly tributes and chatshow evenings; the Exchange Pub does regular pub music evenings; an annual music festival is starting that uses the pubs; the Exchange Creative Community is starting to programme weekly singer-songwriter/spoken word evenings; Alt-Space/West End Playhouse is running regular scratch/comedy workshops, spoken word and related events.