Eric Morecambe 'amused guests' when his family owned this St Ives hotel

Norwich TV footage reveals Morecambe and Wise 'bored stiff' by Monty Python

Eric Morecambe would pop in for lunch and entertain guests at The Golden Lion Hotel in St Ives in the 1970s. - Credit: The Coaching Inn Group/ PA

It’s been 80 years since legendary comedy double act Morecambe and Wise made their theatre debut – but do you remember when one half of the duo owned this St Ives hotel? 

The Golden Lion Hotel and Restaurant had a change of ownership following the formation of the Barts Inns in 1965. 

It was then the traditional coaching inn was taken over by two new directors, Alan Bartlett, an experienced publican at The Torrington Arms in North Finchley, London, and his sister Joan Bartholomew.  

All the funding for the new company was provided by Joan’s husband Eric Bartholomew – better known by his stage name – Eric Morecambe.  

In a history booklet on The Golden Lion website, it states: “It was a time when the comedy double act of Morecambe and Wise were revelling in their first smash-hit TV series and had two movies under their belts.  

MORE: New investor for The Golden Lion but it's 'business as usual'

“Eric’s son, Gary, explained that his father wanted to use his new wealth to establish an income for his family outside of show-business. Alan Bartlett ran the new company, but from a distance.  

Eric Morecambe

Morecambe and Wise were at the height of fame when Eric came to The Golden Lion. - Credit: Herts Advertiser

“He remained at his own business in North Finchley, while employing managers to run The Golden Lion, and another hotel, The Tudor at Fenstanton.” 

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In July 1974 The Golden Lion was reopened after major improvements, and Eric Morecambe came to join the celebrations.  

He wore a Civil War helmet, joked with hundreds of customers, signed autographs, and pretended to spar with another celebrity guest, Joe Bugner, the British and European-champion heavyweight boxer.  

“Eric’s son Gary came to work at The Golden Lion in 1978, with the intention of learning the hospitality trade,” the website states. 

“His father occasionally called in for lunch, and willingly amused fellow customers.  

“But Gary, then aged 22, soon learned that hotel management was not for him. He gave it up to become a successful film producer, writer and biographer of his father.” 

Sadly, shortly after in 1984, Eric died of a heart attack. His partner Ernie died of heart failure in 1999. 

Morecambe and Wise made their double act debut in August 1941 at the Liverpool Empire. 

They had a series of shows that spanned over 20 years, during which time they developed and honed their act, most notably after moving to the BBC in 1968.  

It is this period of their careers that is widely regarded as their "glory days" with their Christmas shows still a festive feature to this day. 

To find out more about The Golden Lion visit: https://thegoldenlionhotel.co.uk/

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