Morecambe’s Railway Heritage
The Platform, formally a working railway station know as 'Morecambe Promenade Station', was built by the Midland Railway Company as the terminus of the former “little” North Western Railway to exploit the numbers of holidaymakers moving between Morecambe, Heysham and Lancaster and to provide a speedy service for port workers.
Morecambe Promenade Station first opened to passengers in 1907 and had four main platforms and a goods siding. Passengers using the facilities came from Leeds and Bradford as well as the West Coast of Scotland arriving overnight by rail to stay in the hotel before taking the boat to the Isle of Man and Barrow from the Stone Jetty.
The line was electrified in 1908 and ran trains every 30 minutes throughout the day. The station was very busy both before and after the first world war and the volume of passengers was such that many trains still had to use the Euston Road Station instead.
An interior view of Morecambe Promenade Station.
29th May 1960, The Reverend H D E Rokeby Collection, Historic England Archive
By the late 1980s tourism in Morecambe was rapidly declining. The station had remained largely unaltered and was far too large for the 1-2 trains per hour it now received. In 1993 the decision was taken to close Promenade Station and replace it with a new station situated slightly further inland and closer to the town centre. A final commemorative railtour visited the station the evening before its official closure on 7 February 1994.
After closure the station building remained intact. The Morecambe Visitor Information Centre has been based in the station since 1992. In 1997 it became the live entertainment venue and adjoining pub we still see today.
The station building has been sympathetically restored to its original Midland Railway condition and has won two design awards – the “Ian Allan National Railway Heritage Award” in 1999 (Highly Commended) and an “Access for All Design Award” in 1998.
The old platforms, sidings and approach line were cleared soon after closure as part of the redevelopment plans. Morecambe's Festival Market now occupies part of the site along with a nearby shopping outlet, and the rest is used as an access road to the new station and for car parking.
After its closure in 1994, The Platform underwent extensive refurbishment in order to be converted to the entertainment venue we all know and love today. It remained closed for 3 years before finally reopening to the public on the 17th December 1997 as a Music and Community Arts Centre.
The performances at The Platform started off strong, with local dance groups, brass bands, orhcestras and children's shows all taking place in the first few months. There were also some famous faces who made the trip to Morecambe for The Platform's first season, such as Steve Harley and The Manfreds, to name a few. The Platform hosted far more than just Music and Dance however, it became a true community hub with a myriad of public lectures, workshops and classes. The venue retains this variation of events to this day.
Comedy shows played a huge part in shaping The Platform's legacy, becoming a staple location for the touring stand-up acts. The Platform, and many venues like it, were instrumental in helping to launch the carears of many comedians and comediennes who are now household names; Ohmid Djalili, Dave Spikey, Jason Manford, Lucy Porter, Dave Gorman, Dara Ó Briain, and many, many others have all stopped off at The Platform during their country-wide tours.
Check out the image gallery below to see just some of the fantastic comedy acts who have performed here over the years.