Lancashire industrialists Brown and Drury opened the Colwyn Bay Hotel in 1871. By 1897 prospective guests were being invited to enjoy seawater baths and avail themselves of the services of the “hotel porters, in scarlet uniform, who attend the trains, and remove luggage to and from the hotel”. If this did not entice you to stay then perhaps the final line would: “Colwyn Bay is strongly recommended by eminent medical men for the mildness and dryness of its climate”. The hotel was bought by Chester-based Quellyn Roberts & Co. Ltd in 1927.
The Colwyn Bay Hotel had 92 bedrooms and 365 windows – one for each day of the year. Among the many famous guests to stay there were Madame Adelina Patti when she sang at the opening concert at the Pier Pavilion in 1900, ballerina Anna Pavlova, David Lloyd George, pilot Amy Johnson and actor Cary Grant.
During World War Two the hotel became the Ministry of Food’s national headquarters and one of 38 premises the Ministry took over as offices and accommodation. The entire food rationing system was organised from Colwyn Bay. The Ministry’s emergency messenger system in the form of a pigeon loft was built at the hotel. Although some parts of the Ministry remained in Colwyn Bay until as late as 1956, the Colwyn Bay Hotel was ready to reopen as a hotel again in 1952.
Having fallen empty and no buyer to be found, the Colwyn Bay Hotel, which had stood proudly on the coastline for over a century, was finally demolished in September 1975.
Princess Court was built on the site of the old Colwyn Bay Hotel. This complex of 128 retirement apartments opened in 1990.
The name “Colwyn Bay Hotel” lived on when it became the name of the now demolished Hotel 70 Degrees on Penmaenhead.
This article appears in Eunice Roberts and Helen Morley’s book “The Spirit of Colwyn Bay: 1” and is reproduced here with their kind permission.