Fab four from Wearside could hold the key to Lowry sketches

The Mariott Hotel at Seaburn.
The Mariott Hotel at Seaburn.
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A ‘where are you now’ appeal has gone out to trace four former Wearside waitresses.

The appeal has been sounded by officials at the Sunderland Marriott. They would love to hear from the waitresses who once worked at the venue when it was known as the Seaburn Hotel.

The appeal is a bit of a long shot after all this time but it would be great if any of the four were still around and had kept their sketches. If so we would be delighted to invite them and four family members back for a Sunday lunch to hear their memories of the great man

Eamonn Thompson, Sunderland Marriott hotel

They all had the rare distinction of being presented with a signed sketch drawn by LS Lowry.

And he did it in great style on the back of Sunday lunch menus during their time at the venue which is now the four-star Sunderland Marriott.

The world famous artist was well known to have stayed at the hotel for two summer weeks during the 1970s and had earlier painted pictures from a bedroom window which overlooked the promenade.

The hotel’s North East Regional General Manager Eamonn Thompson explained more about the story and why he would love to trace the waitresses concerned.

He said Lowry was prompted to make the sketches on the plain white back of the card menus if he took a shine to a particular waitress.

“The appeal is a bit of a long shot after all this time,” said Mr Thompson, but he added; “It would be great if any of the four were still around and had kept their sketches.”

“If so we would be delighted to invite them and four family members back for a Sunday lunch to hear their memories of the great man,” Mr Thompson added.

It is the latest lovely tale from the days when LS Lowry paid his summer visits to Wearside.

And it is also only one month since we first reported on Lowry and another story, concerning a local man called Archie Laidler who, in the early 1970s, was Head Waiter of the Seaburn Hotel.

Archie, aged 69, of Southwick, Sunderland, said at the time: “Mr Lowry always came for a fortnight at some point during the summer and reserved room 120 because it had large windows from which he had painted in earlier days.

“He was an incredibly private man who came down to breakfast just before 9.30am as we were beginning to finish the service and most guests had already departed.”

Archie’s superb memories include recollections of just how polite the great man always was.

“He called all the staff, including the manager, sir’, always sat at table seven at the far end of the then restaurant and his breakfast order never varied, “ said Archie who started his hotel career at the former Grand Hotel in 1964 and moved to the Seaburn in 1969.

“He would always start with a large glass of tomato juice followed by porridge and bacon and eggs and a pot of tea and would then set out for a walk along the prom or go off on the bus for the day.”

The wonderful memories just kept on coming from Archie who also remembered the stylish outfit of L.S. Lowry.

“His dress never varied from a black hat, dark grey suit and walking stick and you could still see little paint marks which had failed to come out of the suit.”

Archie, who has lived in Sunderland ever since he was six, worked at the hotel for 21 years and was joined for his trip down memory lane followed by lunch by former colleague Executive PA Liz Codling who is still at the hotel and will also celebrate her 40 years there in November.

Liz said in our first article: “Archie was always telling me these wonderful stories about Mr Lowry so seeing summer has just started I thought it would be a lovely idea to invite him back, “ she said.

Now we are hoping to find out more about those four menu sketches which were given to the waitresses.

Readers with information on what might have become of the sketches should call hotel team member Liz Codling on (0191) 5292041 or email Liz.codling@marriotthotels.com.

Do you have memories of Sunderland in times gone by and would you like to share them?

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We would like to hear from you. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk and share those memories.