The Imperial Hotel, Llandudno
Several boarding houses were amalgamated to form the Imperial Hotel, in 1872. The hotel was extended at the start of the 20th century. In 1972, after a serious fire in the top storey, it was added to again. The photos here show the hotel in its early years, and the hotel's Ladies' Room.
As one of the town’s premier hotels, it hosted many wealthy and famous guests. There is good evidence that in August 1873 Prince Leopold, son of Queen Victoria, stayed incognito in the hotel with his aide-de-camp. Before the Second World War, the exiled Queen Rambai Barni of Siam was a long-term guest. She eventually had to leave to make way for the Inland Revenue (the Government’s tax collecting agency), newly evacuated to escape London’s bombing.
The first 200 civil servants arrived in spring 1940 and set up their headquarters in the Imperial Hotel. They soon requisitioned over 400 hotels, boarding houses and private residences in the area to house the Inland Revenue departments, its staff and their families. Another 900 civil servants arrived in summer 1940, and another 3,500 later that year.
The civil servants became part of the local community and many joined the local Home Guard, patrolling the town alongside local men. They were keen on putting on amateur shows because there was little to do in their free time during the war years. At Christmas the civil servants organised a party in the Town Hall for 1,000 local children and treated them to tea and entertainment including comic songs, ventriloquism and conjuring! The newly formed Inland Revenue band often performed alongside the town band during parades and fundraising events.
Jim Callaghan, Britain’s Prime Minister 1976-1979, had an office in the Imperial Hotel for most of the war. He arrived as an assistant secretary to the Inland Revenue Staff Association and was also billeting officer (arranging accommodation for employees). He and his wife Audrey lived for six years in a flat at 7 Mostyn Crescent. Their second daughter, Julia, was born at Llandudno Hospital. Later he became entertainments officer and oversaw provision of a recreation centre for Inland Revenue staff and their families at the Ormescliffe Hotel.
In September 1945, a month after the end of the war, the first 400 civil servants left Llandudno for London. The rest moved from Llandudno gradually, as many of the London buildings had to be rebuilt and refurbished after the blitz.
Postcode: LL30 1AP