The days when dinner dances went with a swing at the Seaburn Hotel

The Seaburn Hotel.
The Seaburn Hotel.
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The Seaburn Hotel’s dinner dances were the place to be.

Just ask Derek Lambert who became the latest person to submit his memories as part of an ongoing competition.

Derek Lambert pictured in his younger days.

Derek Lambert pictured in his younger days.

It was thanks to the Sunderland Antiquarian Society that Derek got in touch to tell Wearside Echoes about his early memories of the old hotel, now the four star Marriott overlooking the promenade.

Derek lives in Southmoor, Oxfordshire, and found out about our Seaburn Hotel Memories Appeal by trawling on the Internet.

We have teamed up with the Marriott who will be treating the writer of the most interesting letter and four members of his or her family to lunch or dinner in the Seaburn Bar and Grill.

Derek, now 84, said: “In the 1940s and 1950s before the club revolution, the Seaburn’s dinner dances were the place for us to go.

There was an Irish head waiter called Desmond who was the life and soul of the party and made everything go with a swing, so much so that I think some people came just because he was so entertaining.

Derek Lambert

“There was an Irish head waiter called Desmond who was the life and soul of the party and made everything go with a swing, so much so that I think some people came just because he was so entertaining.

“There was a public bar at the southern end of the hotel back in those days and one or two local ship owners and builders use to frequent it for after work drinks,” recalled Derek who was with Vaux Swallow Hotels in Sunderland at one period during the 1960s.

“I worked partly as a relief manager going to various hotels in the group but funnily enough, I never went to the Seaburn which was the premier posting in those days,” revealed Derek.

He added: “My two years national service as an air cool engineer in the RAF probably stood me in good stead because all the department heads were ex officers, including colonels and brigadiers back in those days.”

The ballroom at the Seaburn Hotel.

The ballroom at the Seaburn Hotel.

Derek later recalled one manager who used to “cross the prom for a swim in the North Sea summer and winter and also that there was a plaque in the foyer commemorating the very short time it took to build the hotel.”

Thanks go to Derek for some wonderful memories - the latest in a series submitted by readers.

Others have included;

l Sunderland born Les Allen, 88, who must have his own unique claim to fame as far as the Seaburn Hotel is concerned.

For Les, who launched Les Allen Car Sales in 1970 and ran it until 1995, once used the hotel ballroom to display several Saabs as part of a promotional event.

“We sold six cars on that memorable night in 1980,” said Les.

As sales director for an earlier dealership he also succeeded in manoeuvring an Aston Martin into the foyer of the town’s former Odeon Cinema for the midnight premiere of an early James Bond movie.

Les, of Cliffe Park, who was born in the Howard Arms in Sunderland where his dad was the landlord, served with the army in Greece for two years after the Second World War and has lived in the town all his life.

He added: “I have four children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild, and many happy memories of social and family events held at the Seaburn over the years.”

l Hilda Morritt who worked at the hotel as a breakfast waitress.

She often served the famous painter LS Lowry during his holiday visits, and even brought one of his jumpers home to wash, said Hilda’s daughter Hilda Donaldson.

But one morning, the painter offered to do a sketch of the seafront for her and she thanked him but said she was not really interested in pictures.

Daughter Hilda said: “She even told my brother Colin, who now lives in Cumbria, that they were not proper pictures because they had matchstick people in them.”

Marriott Multi Property General Manager Eamonn Thompson said it was great to be receiving so many fascinating memories which were painting such a wonderful picture of the Marriott back in its Seaburn days.

Echoes readers also wanting to wander down their own Seaburn memory lane should email their contributions - plus their telephone number and any pictures - to Nigel@Media-Consult.co.uk.

Letters marked Seaburn Memories and including your telephone number, may also be posted to Liz Codling at The Marriott, Queens Parade, Sunderland SR6 8DB. Only send copies of pictures or those which don’t have to be returned.