The story of one woman’s life - and how the Seaburn Hotel played a key part

The ballroom at the Seaburn Hotel.
The ballroom at the Seaburn Hotel.

It’s been a fascinating life for Brenda Graham.

When she left her home in Murton Colliery to become a clerical officer at the Foreign Office in Downing Street, her 21st birthday coming of age party was still three years away from happening.

Brenda Graham.

Brenda Graham.

It went ahead at Sunderland’s Seaburn Hotel, now the four star Marriott - and it was one part of a remarkable life story for Brenda.

It also marks the latest wonderful recollection of the hotel to be submitted by Sunderland Echo readers.

Chris Cordner reports.

It’s the seafront hotel which shaped so many memories - and it did just that for Brenda Graham as well.

When we reached the age of 21, we could expect to be posted abroad. John wanted us to get married and be posted together. So coming home to meet my parents for my 21st at The Seaburn Hotel he probably thought he’d got his feet well and truly under the table!

Brenda Graham

In fact, it was the place where she had her 21st birthday party - and introduced a boyfriend-to-be to her parents.

But let’s leave it to Brenda to explain more.

The Wearside woman, now aged 76 of Houghton-le-Spring, also recalled her time in London and how the Foreign Office put her up in an all girls hostel next to the Albert Hall, until she got a flat with new friends,

Meanwhile young male recruits - including John, her boyfriend to be - were put up in a men’s hostel in Notting Hill Gate.

“When we reached the age of 21, we could expect to be posted abroad,” said Brenda. “John wanted us to get married and be posted together. So coming home to meet my parents for my 21st at The Seaburn Hotel he probably thought he’d got his feet well and truly under the table!

“Because the postings were delayed, I took myself off to New Scotland Yard, considering a change of career, but I wasn’t tall enough and also shortsighted so by November, I was on my way to a Foreign Office posting in the Persian Gulf and John to Bamako on West Africa’s Gold Coast.

“While we corresponded for a while and finally went our separate ways, life in the Gulf was a female paradise!”

Brenda added: “Strangely enough, at a Christmas party I met a school friend, whom I also knew from church, who was now a paratrooper.

“Every Sunday evening he and his friend came down from the desert and picked me up in a jeep to go on to the American Mission in Manama, the capital,” recalled Brenda, who came home on leave after 18 months and transferred to the Home

Civil Service because her dad had suffered a mining accident.

“I then made a career change to general nursing and midwifery and when dad got back on his feet, I went to Libya for a year to work in the Oil Industries Medical Hospital and Out-Patient Clinic.

“I learned that John was in the Embassy in Kuwait and had married a lady whom he’d met in West Africa. I eventually married, but am now divorced, and have a son living locally, a daughter in Leicester and a granddaughter, and I have my memories!

“I was an only child and I can still hear my mother saying, ‘Your Dad and I never stood in your way’!”

Marriott Sunderland Multi Property General Manager Eamonn Thompson said Brenda’s was yet another in the series of fascinating stories linked to the hotel in former days.

The winner of the best contribution will be welcomed back to the hotel for a special lunch or dinner together with five other family members or special guests.

So don’t delay - take a wander down your own memory lane today.

Email your contribution together with your 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.

But interested readers should only send copies of pictures or those which do not have to be returned.

* In the meantime, Wearside Echoes would love to hear from readers with recollections on any topic.

Perhaps you want to reminisce on your favourite pub, restaurant, hotel or nightclub.

Whatever the reason, get in touch by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk