by Robert Nemeth
My last memory of the Lansdowne Hotel on Lansdowne Place was dancing to Rat Pack classics with singer David Van Day and local builder John Regan. We had a great evening but did chuckle about the state of the place. That was one Christmas some years ago.
There were no doubt similar festive celebrations over the Christmas period in 2012 with the principal difference that, unbeknownst to staff, the hotel was about to close. The announcement was made on New Year’s Eve apparently. It must have closed quickly as decorated trees are still scattered around the entrance foyer. Bottles of spirits in the bar are still in situ. Uniforms still hang in the staff room.
Many local people know the Lansdowne by its former name, the Dudley Hotel. Some call it the ‘Deadly Dudley’, presumably on account of the dodgy food. Few probably appreciate that the hotel began as a terrace of six distinct houses called Lansdowne Mansions. The Dudley grew from a boarding house in the southernmost of the six houses until all six were included.
The street was developed from the 1820s and was originally called Wick Road. It became Lansdowne Place in 1834. There were once a number of schools on the road but the use now is primarily residential. Planning permission exists for the conversion of the 84-bedroom hotel into 45 flats.
Exploring old hotels, looking for bits of history, is a fascinating task. It tends to be the case that most public-facing areas have little of interest to offer. Successive refurbishments see to that. It is the behind-the-scenes areas that give the clues – cellars, staff rooms, service staircases. I particularly like a hidden 1930s lift at the rear.
Matthew Hollywood at Mishon Mackay is marketing the building now as a development project for £8 million.