Park Hotel, Tynemouth – a sad decline


All right, all right.  I should have known.  I’ve driven past it plenty of times to have noticed its decline.  It’s just that I haven’t actually been in it for ages, decades, probably.

So when it came to booking a Mothering Sunday lunch, and all the first choices were full, the Park Hotel, Tynemouth didn’t sound so bad.  Like I say: I should have known.

It has stood overlooking the Long Sands since 1939, an art deco masterpiece in white stucco, with a distinctive maritime aspect.

Along with its rival, the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth, is was the local posh place.  My parents had their wedding reception there in 1952.  So did my sister in 1977.  It was the scene of family treats throughout my childhood.  It’s the only place I’ve ever had crepe suzette flambeed at my table.  I was probably about 12.

Crepe suzette, steak Dianne, chicken chasseur, black forest gateau from the trolley…all those fabulous 1970s dishes were on the menu of the Park, the dining room overseen by the formidable maitre d’, Mr Eric, whom I was far too young to know, obviously, but knew about thanks to my dad cultivating a relationship with him.  It was handy for a local businessman to know the maitre d’ at the Park.  My mum said he always remembered her name.  Jackets and a tie were de rigeur.

There was a  large, curved staircase coming into the lobby and the place was highly suitable for a distinguished old gent, who had lived next door to us, to move into for quite some time after his wife died.

The hotel bar was called, appropriately enough,  The Square Rigger.  It operated a very relaxed policy toward under-age drinking in those days when publicans were able to turn a blind eye so long as no one got out of order.  No one did, not that I remember.

park brown

Who’d paint it brown?

And then…what happened?  Some time in the late 80s, 90s, the decline began.  The Square Rigger became “Parkers” – no longer a lively local, but a soulless hotel bar.  Perhaps they got warned too often about the teenagers.

Then – and this is truly inexplicable – for more than a decade it was painted brown.  Brown.  And not just any brown, but the sort of pale brown that…oh never mind.

It  renamed itself “The Montagu Park Hotel” for some reason.  Cheap vinyl banners advertised “Curry and a pint”.  The magnificent ballroom seemed to be under permanent restoration.  I can only assume Mr Eric was no longer in the hotel’s employ.

And now?  Lunch yesterday was almost heartbreaking.  The dining room is accessed through “Parkers”, where a large screen showed the football, noisily, to almost no one.  My mum – 91 and trying very hard not to look disappointed (she thought we were going to the Grand which has maintained its status, more or less) – and I took our seats for the carvery at a table with paper table cloths still dirty from the previous occupants, with paper napkins and an overflowing sugar bowl (sugar bowl? In 2016?)

Everything about it was epicly awful.  The food, the decor, the non-existent service.  Mum, bless her, pretended not to mind.  She’s well brought-up, my mum.  I felt wretched.

I can only take solace in the hope that it need not be like this.  it cannot be.  It’s still a great location, a great-looking building.  It could once again be a wonderful hotel.

Back to blog

The Monkey Who Fell From The Future

The hilarious, moving and adventure-packed new novel for readers of 9 and up from Ross Welford, the bestselling and Costa-shortlisted author of Time Travelling with a Hamster

More Info

Into the Sideways World

When Willa and Manny stumble upon a seemingly perfect world without pollution or conflict, they try desperately to make people in their own troubled world believe them.

More Info

When We Got Lost in Dreamland

When 11 year-old Malky and his younger brother Seb become the owners of a “Dreaminator”, they are thrust into worlds beyond their wildest imagination. But impossible dreams come with incredible risks...

More Info

The Kid Who Came From Space

A small village in the wilds of Northumberland is rocked by the disappearance of twelve-year-old Tammy. Only her twin brother, Ethan, knows she is safe – and the extraordinary truth of where she is. It is a secret he must keep, or risk never seeing her again.

More Info

The Dog Who Saved The World

My pet dog is called Mr Mash. We named him that because he's a mishmash. A total mongrel. He smells terrible. He'll eat literally anything. He can't see very well. But I love him more than anything. (Sorry dad.) And without him, the world is going to end...

More Info

The 1,000-year-old Boy

There are stories about people who want to live forever. This is a story about someone who wants to stop.

More Info

What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible

Turning invisible at will: it’s one way of curing your acne. But far more drastic than 13 year-old Ethel Leatherhead intended when she tried a combination of untested medicines and a sunbed.

More Info

Time Travelling With A Hamster

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine, and again four years later when he was twelve.

More Info