Pocket Britain

A seaside resort next-door to the Lake District

At Morecambe Bay, England's eastern coastline cuts sharply inland. It looks like someone's taken a bite out of Britain! This is the largest estuary in the UK, with an area of around 300 square kilometres. 5 different rivers end here, bringing the northwest's waters back to the sea.
Much of the bay is covered with areas of sand and mud. The terrain can be tricky to navigate, with its unreliable footing and fast-moving tides. There have been some tragic accidents over the years. To help promote safety, a local resident is appointed as the Queen's Guide to the Sands. This official position has had 25 different holders since its inception. The guide Cedric Robinson took up the job in 1963. He has regularly led groups of 100 or more across the treacherous bay. It's said he can read the sands like others read a newspaper.
The town of Morecambe itself lies on the bay's eastern side. There are no dangers here - the beach is full of safe, golden sand. It has been an energetic seaside resort for many decades. Unfortunately, the place has suffered some bad luck. Storms and fires destroyed its two piers, and several other attractions have closed in recent years.
Nevertheless, Morecambe is bouncing back. The 90s saw the introduction of the Tern Project, which has transformed the seafront. This restoration programme included new sea defences, and dozens of public artworks. You'll notice that many of the pieces represent birdlife. This is because the sands of Morecambe Bay have hundreds of feathered residents. Part of the area is an officially protected bird reserve. The town seems to have embraced this part of its identity. Even its supermarket has bird-themed bollards in the car-park!
There's one Tern Project artwork that doesn't come with wings. This is the statue of Eric Morecambe, the famous 20th century comedian. He was born as John Bartholomew, right here in this very town. When he started his showbiz career, he honoured the place by pinching its name. Eric passed away in 1984, but his statue is still grinning away on the seafront. It was unveiled by the Queen herself, in 1999.
More observant people will notice the binoculars hanging around Eric's neck. These represent his keen interest in bird watching. This hobby is what gives him away as a true son of Morecambe!
Other recent renovations include the art deco Midland Hotel and the terracotta-coloured Victoria Pavilion. Things are changing but, even so, the town's best view will probably always stay the same. In the distance, across the bay, you can see the tall, dark hills of the Lake District standing majestically beyond its waters.

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