The car dealer who put his vehicles on show - in a Sunderland hotel

You really have come up trumps with your old memories of the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland.

Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 12:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th September 2017, 1:09 pm
Les Allen shares his memories of the Seaburn Hotel and his car sales business.
Les Allen shares his memories of the Seaburn Hotel and his car sales business.

We recently appealed for readers to come forward with their recollections of the place and you did it in style.

The latest was Sunderland born Les Allen, who is now 88 and who must have his own unique claim to fame as far as the town’s former Seaburn Hotel, now the four-star Marriott, is concerned.

Less cars on display in the Seaburn Hotel.

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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.

He was responding to our Echoes Appeal for readers to come forward with their own special memories of the hotel in its Seaburn days.

“We sold six cars on that memorable night in 1980,” said Les, who still has an album showing the Saabs in the ballroom.

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.

Six new Saabs were sold thanks to the launch.

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.”

Marriott Sunderland multi property general manager Eamonn Thompson said he was delighted that Les had got in touch with his fascinating memories of Saabs being sold in the hotel ballroom.

We will be printing a selection of your stories in our Echoes section over the coming weeks and 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.

Less cars on display in the Seaburn Hotel.

Other entries so far have included the story of 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.”

Six new Saabs were sold thanks to the launch.

They’re great stories that we have had so far but we want much more.

We have teamed up with the city’s four-star Marriott who would love to hear from you if you had a special family connection with the property in its Seaburn Hotel days of the 1950s, ’60s or ’70s.

Perhaps you had a 21st birthday party there, or possibly a wedding or engagement celebration.

Or there could be some other special reason to have fond memories of the hotel back in those days.

Whatever your reason for getting in touch, we would love you to get involved in this nostalgic look back.

So don’t delay – take a wander down your own memory lane today by emailing your contribution together with your telephone number and any pictures to [email protected]

Letters should be marked Seaburn Memories and include your telephone number.

Entries can also be posted to Liz Codling at The Marriott, Queens Parade, Sunderland SR6 8DB, but only send copies of pictures or those which do not have to be returned.

l We are also appealing to Echo readers to get in touch and tell us about any aspect of Sunderland history you would like us to feature in the paper.

Which were your favourite shops and what did you love to buy from them?

Is there a pub, restaurant, school or cinema you want us to recall?

Or perhaps there is another aspect of Sunderland and Wearside’s past you would like us to look at. Maybe you would like us to feature your own family tree in the paper.

Whatever your story, get in touch and tell us more.

Email [email protected] with all of your memories.