Southport can be ‘Brighton of the North’

Pop legend Marc Almond comes home to Southport for Christmas and says the town where he grew up can become a ‘Brighton of the North – a haven for creatives and artists’. Andrew Brown reports

Marc Almond
Soft Cell founder Marc Almond back in his home town of Southport

Iconic pop singer Marc Almond is delighted to be back home – and it’s clear that Southport’s gotten hold of his heart.

With Soft Cell, and as a solo artist, Marc has sold more than 20m singles worldwide with hits including Tainted Love and Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart. He is encouraging people to support Southport Little Theatre and to enjoy the pantomime which Southport Dramatic Club is currently staging there.

He hailed Lord Street in Southport as “one of the grandest thoroughfares in the North of England”, as he expressed his delight that the “green shoots of recovery” are starting to show in the town. And as millions of pounds are being invested into regenerating Southport, he would love to see his hometown become “the North’s Brighton, a haven for creatives and artists”.

Marc, who was born in Southport and studied at King George V Sixth Form College and at Southport College, has returned home for Christmas and has written a post on Instagram telling his 40,000 followers all about the resort. In his post, where he tagged Stand Up For Southport, he wrote: “Honoured to be a Patron of Southport’s only real remaining theatre, The Little Theatre.

“Built in 1936 and opened in 1937 it’s always been and still is a home to Southport’s drama club. It doesn’t get a grant so relies on outside support. Thank you to the staff I met today that let me in so I could take some photos.

“Like so many theatres The Little Theatre has found it hard through these Covid years and the popular panto is under threat this year if there are more restrictions.”

READ MORE: Southport BID lights up Chapel Street

Marc posted photos of his adventure exploring places including the illuminated Christmas tree in Southport’s Town Hall Gardens; Silcock’s Funland; and Westminster Tea Room on Lord Street, saying: “Happy to see my favourite Southport tea room has survived.”

And he praised Lord Street as he looked at how the famous boulevard has changed over the years. He said: “It’s good to see some of the green shoots of a regeneration are starting to show in Southport and there are various plans underfoot to upgrade parts of the town. About time.

“Lord Street is one of the grandest thoroughfares in the North of England, the Champs Elysee of the North. Not such a fantasy as rumours are that some of the Paris Boulevard was inspired by Southport as was Princes Street in Edinburgh.

“Above the glass verandas lining the whole street are some lovely buildings even though the shops are not as Grand (shall we say) as they used to be. When I was a kid it was posh cafes such as Matti and Tissot where old ladies in minks met for coffee or grand department stores like Broadbents.

Westminster Tea Rooms
Westminster Tea Rooms on Lord Street in Southport. Photo by Marc Almond

“Beautiful glass arcades are now looking a bit sad with shops piled with bric a brac, low level antiques, collectibles and general tat. Nothing wrong with second hand collectibles but these arcades are ready to be regenerated with decent unique stores and restaurants and cafes, perfect for outdoor eating.

“Southport may have lost some of its sandy beach but now boasts fantastic nature walks and Ainsdale and a little further afield Formby has good beaches. The beautiful village of Churchtown is nearby too.

“Under Neville Street is a buried hidden Victorian street. Be great to open it up. Southport should be the North’s Brighton, a haven for creatives and artists. Visit Southport when next up North, enjoy its walks, afternoon tea in the Westminster Tea Room and a visit to the theatre.

“There are good hotels such as The Vincent Hotel but it would be great to see the grandest hotel, The Prince of Wales, in loving caring hands again and not what it’s sadly become.”

Panto lovers will enjoy Robin Hood at Southport Little Theatre on Hoghton Street, Southport town centre, until January 2, 2022. Visit: www.littletheatresouthport.co.uk

This article first appeared in Stand Up For Southport

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