In the early 1800s, Grange-over-Sands was a quiet little back-water, which was effectively cut off from the rest of England due to the difficult terrain and poor roads. The only other a access route, on foot or on horseback across Morecambe Bay sands, was notoriously treacherous due to the fast-moving tides, and had claimed the lives of many hapless travellers over the centuries.
But it was the introduction of the railway line by the Furness Railway Company in1857 (to provide a link for industry between Ulverston and the main Lancaster/Carlisle lines) and the creation of a station that really enabled the village to capitalise on its pretty and sheltered position. The Company also invested in The Grange Hotel Company Ltd., which was formed to build the Grange Hotel in 1866 to cater for the wealthy visitors now arriving in Grange to sample the ‘genteel’ surroundings and benefit from the temperate climate and fresh sea air. The Grange Hotel was designed by the same architects who had also designed the Railway Station, which explains the similarity between the two!
An 1876 Travel Directory described Grange as ‘this delightful and fashionable watering place’ with ‘A splendid Hotel in the Italian style of architecture …having 70 rooms also large refreshment rooms, stables, etc., swimming and other baths are fitted up and supplied with sea water’.
The buildings at the front gate of the Hotel housed the first Fire Brigade in the town, with its sturdy horse called Jack, who pulled the cart with the firemen and the necessary fire-fighting equipment!
The Grange Hotel`s beautiful tennis courts (located where the bungalows now are) were used for the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon.
Today, the Grange Hotel still maintains the gracious style, homely comfort and warm, welcoming atmosphere that made it such a popular destination for the discerning travellers of yesteryear – although the swimming pool and baths are no longer supplied with sea water!