Grand Hotel Scarborough: A Victorian Marvel The Victorian Era is denoted as the period between 1837 and 1901 when the United Kingdom was ruled by Queen Victoria (Watkin, 2007). This period is known for the improvement in the prosperity and living standards of the British public besides producing some of the greatest inventions and discoveries ever known to mankind…
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This paper discusses the effects of free-thinking and development during this period by citing the multi-dimensional background of this historical landmark. The Grand Hotel is considered to be an important part of Victorian legacy since it was the first custom-built hotel in the whole of Europe. According to Wolff (2009), Europeans were growing wealthier due to the era of colonialism and the benefits realized through the Renaissance. The Grand Hotel was constructed to attract the richest vacationers with some of the latest luxuries of the day. The hotel was first constructed in 1863 at a time when the notion of sub-bathing was gaining widespread popularity. By 1867, the hotel had evolved into one of the world’s biggest luxury hotels and consisted of more than 370 guest rooms. Watkin (2007) says that the architecture of the hotel is truly Victorian in nature and was instrumental in popularizing it as an early holiday resort. Scarborough was a small-town sea resort for almost 250 years prior to the construction of the Grand Hotel. The first Spa in the town came up around 1626, when a stream of water containing acidic properties was discovered flowing down from the nearby cliffs. A hundred years later, visitors had the opportunity to have a dip in the sea and could sun-bathe on the shore. But it was not until the arrival of the modern railway during the 1840s that the number of visitors into the town multiplied manifold (Burton, 2008). More than seven million yellow bricks were used for the construction of this hotel and were prepared specially for this purpose in the nearby town of Hunmanby (Burton, 2008). The rise in tourist numbers presented a new business opportunity and prompted an architect named John Gibson to design a magnificent hotel that would be constructed on Scarborough’s South Cliff. The plan to build the world’s largest hotel was unveiled in 1845 and it was not until 18 years later that the hotel was deemed complete. According to Linstrum (2009), the hotel consisted of four large towers at each of its corners and represented the four seasons in a year. There were 12 floors denoting the 12 months in a year. By 1867, the hotel boasted of over 365 rooms signifying the number of days in a year. In fact, the hotel has a total of fifty-two chimneys, one for each week in a year. Hitchcock (2008) says that the time and care taken to construct this hotel projects the prevailing sentiment during the era that inspired achievement and perfection. Guests at the Grand Hotel were provided up to four taps to choose between fresh and sea water (both hot and cold). Kemp (2004) adds that the entire hotel was itself constructed in a ‘V’ shape to commemorate Queen Victoria. The Grand Hotel, together with other popular landmarks in Scarborough, was bombed severely during the First World War. However, it was restored back to its original glory in quick time. The Hotel suffered serious damage when the German Navy bombarded the entire coastline in Northern Yorkshire in 1914. Luckily, the attack happened during the off-peak season when there were very few guests in the hotel. Shells from German U-boats damaged the Grand Restaurant while several guestrooms suffered massive damage due to direct bombardment. The cost of refurbishing the hotel during those days was estimated at nearly ?10,000 (Gray, 2006). While the
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