The Now and Then column with Aled Jones: The site of the former Alexandra Hotel
Aled Jones, who is a regular contributor to the Free Press, has created another ‘compare and contrast’ feature of a site in Bridlington.
Mr Jones, who collects vintatge postcards, has taken a modern-day photograph of a scene looking across the ‘Donkey Bridge’ replicating a viewpoint of the Alexandra Hotel from the 1930s.
Mr Jones said: “I love trying to replicate vintage postcards and photographs, because it offers a charming window into a more elegant past and thereby an escape from the drudgery of modern life with its emphasis on cultural stagnation.
“This week’s effort is a lovely view of the site of the former Alexandra Hotel in Bridlington, for when one thinks of a more elegant past one immediately conjures up an image of this world-renowned hotel perched overlooking the beauteous North Bay.
“This vintage card shows the iconic Alex in all its former glory, and what an imposing and architecturally pleasing building it was. I particularly like the imposing entrance with its ornately classical features.
“The postcard dates to the 1930s and also features the equally famous Trinity Cut or ‘Donkey Bridge’, the slipway down which the lifeboats were towed when horse-power was the order of the day.
“Built in 1863-6 the Alexandra Hydro Hotel, to give the edifice its proper name, was once one of the finest hotels in the North of England and on opening was described by a contemporary as ‘one of the most beautiful of modern structures to be found in any of the sea-bathing places on the east coast’.
“Although many famous celebrities and titled people stayed at the Alex during its long history, the hotel was primarily built for the emerging Victorian middle-class, such as bankers, solicitors and wealthy industrialists.
“Indeed, it became so popular and successful that, in 1920, the owner submitted designs for an extension to the original building that would have increased the elegant frontage from 125 feet to a spectacular 362 feet, adding as many as 220 new bedrooms.
“Sadly, the plans never came to fruition but if they had done the resort would have boasted a hotel to probably match anything in London.
“By the 1970s the Alex had suffered a serious decline in fortunes and was demolished in 1975, the year the town saw its first inflatable inshore lifeboat. A terrible loss for certain, but why on earth wasn’t the iconic building simply refurbished and transformed into apartments?
“Surely one of the saddest and strangest conundrums in the history of Bridlington and possibly the entire East Riding.
“Ironically, a block of luxury flats were erected on the Alex’s vacant three-acre site.”