I hadn’t been to Grange since was a teenager the 1980s, when it was always part and parcel of family holidays in the south Lake District. There was never anything much there – that was the point really, so as to avoid the commercialism of the much more popular resorts such as Blackpool and Southport. My memories of Grange included an expansive golden beach – popular for kite flying and long walks – and an art-deco lido, always full of happy swimmers and rather impressive. The town was small and pretty and had a certain air of gentility about it.
Moving forward over three decades, I had passed through Grange on the train a couple of times earlier in the summer whilst on journeys to destinations further up the Cumbrian coast and had been shocked at the change in its appearance. There was no sign of the once sandy beach, which now appeared to have been taken over by salt marsh. I could still see the sea, but I suspected the walk across the marshy former-beach, necessary to reach the water’s edge, might well have been too risky.
Nevertheless, I decided one Sunday to pay the place a visit.
Grange station is small, pretty and quaint, and probably in some ways looks like it did a hundred years ago. On leaving the station, it’s necessary to pass under the subway to get to the other (beach side) of the tracks, at which point you are on the promenade itself. I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely and well-kept the promenade is. It is clearly very popular, especially with dog walkers, and has a nice little vintage-style café and children’s play area at the south end. The north end is quieter and allows slightly closer access to the sea. I was excited to discover that on the last Sunday of every month the promenade plays host to ‘Prom Art’, an open-air arts and crafts market made up of dozens of independent north-west artisans, setting up their stalls displaying their work for sale.
I was saddened to see that the 1930s lido, where I had spent many hours of fun as a child, had fallen into dilapidation and had been fenced off until (one of the locals informed me) a decision is made about its future. I managed to take some photographs which still give an indication of what a vibrant and exciting place it once was. I’ve since discovered that it has now been given ‘listed’ status as the only remaining art-deco lido in the north of England. It would be truly amazing to see it open again in all its glory.