New book tells of Napoleon link to Fleetwood's North Euston Hotel

A Corsican who served under Napoleon Bonaparte and became the first manager of Fleetwood's North Euston Hotel is celebrated in a new book about his life.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 1:06 pm
Stephen Dale, current manager of the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood

Zenon Vantini whose first name was sometimes spelt Xenon, ended up playing a crucial role in British tourism when he became the manager of the hotel in the 1840s.

At that time, parties would take a steam train from Euston Station in London and travel up to Fleetwood, stay at the magnificent seafront hotel overnight and then board a boat to Scotland.

Designed by notable architect Decimus Burton and officially opened in 1841, the elegant hotel was a sizeable draw for travellers in the middle of the 19th century - and Mr Vantini cut an intriguing figure as the manager who welcomed them.

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Napoleon at Waterloo (Wkipedia.org)

The progress of the railway into the Lake District in the 1850s ended what had been an intriguing part of Fleetwood's history and the hotel's link with the London station from which it took its name.

Vantini was a former member of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard who served at the famous Battle of Waterloo against the British, yet his life took an unexpected turn.

In a month marking the the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death on May 5 1821, Dr Pamela Sambrook’s new book, Zenon Vantini: From Grand Tour to Package Holiday, is the first to tell Vantini's story

Stephen Dale, current manager of the North Euston Hotel, knows a little about Vantini's role at the hotel, but not too much about the man himself.

Stephen Dale in the Vantini Room of Fleetwood's North Euston Hotel

He said: "He is not a completely forgotten figure here, we have the Vantini Room named after him and a plaque at the front of the hotel.

"I knew he was Corsican and that he was the very first manager here, but not too much more than that..

"It will be interesting to find out more."

In her well-researched study, Sambrook rescues from obscurity the contribution Vantini made to the development of specialist hotels and catering in the formative years of the railway network in England and France.

In the long view he was a key figure in the very early years of an industry which, she argues, changed England and Europe more than did even his hero, Napoleon.

Pamela Sambrook is a former museum curator and distinguished researcher into country-house domestic offices and the lives of the servants who worked in them.

Stephen added: "The book has come out at a good time - we're just about to welcome leisure travellers back to the hotel on Monday, May 17, and open up our restaurant and bars.

"We can't wait to get back to normal."

The book is published by James Clarke & Co Ltd and is available via most high street book stores.