Making our playground from empty hotel rooms

South Shore Hotel in 1967
South Shore Hotel in 1967
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SEAFRONT hotel the Queens has been in the news this week, with owner Pat Mancini announcing her plans to retire and sell the business.

By coincidence, today we focus on the next door property on Blackpool’s South Promenade, childhood home of Marton reader Pamela Winning.

The Viking Hotel and Talk of the Coast, South Promenade, Blackpool

The Viking Hotel and Talk of the Coast, South Promenade, Blackpool

Now it is the Viking Hotel with its Talk of the Coast cabaret lounge, part of Blackpool’s biggest family-owned accommodation group, Choice Hotels.

Going back five decades, before the rooflifts and modernisation, it was the popular waterfront watering hole, South Shore Hotel.

Pamela, a dental receptionist, says: “My father, George Ronald Hales, known as Ron, was licensee from 1965 until 1971. In those days, it was a pub with three bars. The hotel accommodation had been unused for many years, and remained so until it emerged later in the 1970s as The Viking.

“I was nine when my family moved in, and our living accommodation was the entire first floor, front to back of the building. It was not residential, and we didn’t need all of the rooms for ourselves, but it did provide lots of space for indoor play.”

Pamela reveals: “We even had a garden swing in the former hotel dining room.”

“Higher floors were empty, neglected and too creepy to interest me, and going out to play was crossing the busy Promenade to find a space on the crowded beach.

“The Illuminations looked fantastic from our bay windows, but how desolate and quiet life became when they ended. I remember the front bars being closed during the winter. The Vaults at the back on Montague Street, which became Montagues in more recent times, remained open and the Beach bar opened at weekends.

“The jukebox was always in use during opening hours, and I grew up listening to the sounds of the day filtering up to my room. Plenty of songs still bring memories of those times. I would love to know if anyone remembers the original hotel,” says Pamela.