Grand Hotel Llandudno
The 168-room Grand Hotel is the largest in North Wales, and is a prominent feature of the view across Llandudno bay from the east. It was built in 1901 for Frances Doyle on the site of the old baths, reading room and billiard hall which had opened there in 1855. This was designed by architects Wehnert & Ashdown, and reputedly cost £7,000 to build. The baths were later extended, and became the Baths Hotel in 1879.
The new Grand Hotel was the height of luxury, with its spacious reception rooms, large ballroom and excellent sea and mountain views from the balconies. It has six storeys and a slate roof, ornamented with pyramidal roofs and a tower. The image below left shows one of the bedrooms in 1912, and below right is the entrance c.1902.
In 1940 nearly 5,000 civil servants arrived, along with their families, in Llandudno to escape the London blitz and to ensure the Inland Revenue continued to operate. “Finance is the fourth arm of defence,” said Chancellor Sir John Simon in his first war budget. Extra revenue to pay for the war effort was imperative.
The Grand Hotel became the wartime home of two Inland Revenue departments: the Assessments Division and the Companies Registration Office, better known as “Companies House” and headed by registrar Peter Martin. Since 1844 Britain has operated a system of company registration and it was this department’s role to store information under the Companies Act and to merge and dissolve limited companies, even in wartime Britain.
The hotel register reads like a list from Who’s Who? because so many politicians and entertainers came to stay here. Top of the list must be Winston Churchill. In 1948 he paid his last visit to Llandudno, for the Conservative Party Conference at which Margaret Thatcher started her political career. Others here for conferences were Lloyd George, Sir Oswald Mosley, Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, Anthony Eden and Ted Heath.
The Grand Hotel has featured in a number movies and television dramas including ‘The Card’ (1952) starring Alec Guinness and ‘Yanks’ (1979) starring Richard Gere.
Postcode: LL30 2LR
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