I was a wedding Registrar in Newcastle for 10 years before I became a full time photographer, and the Grand Hotel Tynemouth isn't actually in Newcastle upon Tyne - it's in North Tyneside. As such, it's a venue I was unfamiliar with until November this year when I photographed my first wedding there. This is my review of the Grand Hotel Tynemouth.
The Grand Hotel was built in the nineteenth century. During its lifetime it has played host to innumerable colorful characters from the world of stage, cinema, politics and sport; it has survived two world wars; the 1930`s depression and a constant changing of ownership.
It was owned by the Duke of Northumberland, and initially built as a summer residence in 1872 for the Duchess, it was converted to a hotel in 1877. Throughout its chequered past the Grand Hotel has always been regarded as the most luxurious hotel in the area with one of its' main attractions being the opulent sweeping staircase reminiscent of the Victorian period when such grand buildings officiated balls for the aristocracy.
The Victorian period helped make Tynemouth village popular, with tourists flocking to this small seaside resort, keen to indulge in its delightful climate and explore its natural beauty. Tynemouth was, for a time, a spa town. When In 1912 it was recorded that the death rate in Tynemouth was the lowest in the kingdom as a result of its spa waters, such news was greeted with an influx of visitors. Never had Tynemouth or the Grand Hotel been so busy.
The First World War took its toll on the Grand and it was in such a state of disrepair that it had to be closed down and completely refurbished. As a result the hotel did not re-open to the public until 1922.
There are few hotels in the North East that can admit to having entertained so many celebrities of screen and stage. Such celebrities and much loved people as Mike and Bernie Winters, Stanley Baker, Margaret Rutherford and Conservative MP for Tynemouth Dame Irene Ward stayed there regularly. Irish comedian Dave Allen was a guest as was also Dame Vera Lynn and yet for most people the most famous were comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy who would make a point of staying at the Grand hotel whenever they were appearing at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. For Stan it was a case of coming home as he had spent an early part of his childhood living in North Shields.
By the 1950`s the Grand Hotel was beginning to return to its former beauty with extensive restoration work having taken a great deal of time and money on the part of the owners.
Weddings at the Grand Hotel Tynemouth
Since 1995, The Grand Hotel has been licensed to hold civil marriage ceremonies and is a very popular North East wedding venue - providing the perfect romantic setting overlooking the stunning North East coastline.
The hotel offers 2 licensed suites for wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships, seating 30 to 130 guests.
The State Room, creates an intimate and romantic setting - a perfect smaller wedding venue whilst maintaining the grandeur you would expect.
For larger wedding ceremonies, the Orchid Suite with it's Victorian ceiling and panoramic North East sea views is also available.
Wedding photography at the Grand Hotel Tynemouth
The Grand Hotel Tynemouth is a decent location for wedding photography. The main draw is Tynemouth Longsands which is just over the road in front of the hotel. This is a popular beach, so it may be full of parents with their children and dog walkers out walking their pooches, but it can still make a great backdrop for photographs.
The building itself is pretty good too, with high ceilinged rooms letting in a decent amount of light. Of course, the staircase is the main feature inside, and it is large enough to be used for group photographs if the weather is poor. The exterior has character, but this is spoiled by having cars constantly parked near the entrance.
The roof terrace is a relatively new feature and offers another option for portraits or documentary shots of the guests mingling.
The only thing I felt was missing at the wedding I photographed there was some greenery and vegetation. It was a winter wedding, though, so we couldn't get down onto the beach, which would have more than made up for it.
The ruins of the outdoor swimming pool are only five minutes walk away and could be used to good effect by an adventurous couple.
- The Grand Hotel is located right on a good stretch of beach, making for great views and the potential for stunning photographs.
- The building itself oozes history and the staircase is a great feature.
- You can do everything in one place - have your wedding ceremony, wedding breakfast, party and then stay in the rooms overnight.
- Parking is a big issue, especially at weekends, when the coast is overrun by visitors and permit parking is enforced.
- If the weather is poor, you will be limited in the range of photographs you can achieve.
- You won't have exclusive use of the hotel for your wedding, so you will be rubbing shoulders with other guests.
TYNE AND WEAR
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