Built in 1871 when Barrow in Furness was one of the most prosperous towns in Victorian Britain, the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel was designed and constructed to be the town’s premier hostelry.
Located next to the train station, yet within a few minutes walking distance of the town centre, the hotel quickly developed a wonderful reputation in Barrow and across South Cumbria. At that time it had over sixty bedrooms, ensuite was still quite rare in those days and the Duke’s bedrooms would share a bathroom between six or seven bedrooms. It must have been delightful!
Nevertheless, despite the inconvenience of the “conveniences”, the hotel attracted an eclectic crowd. Visiting dignitaries, celebrities, politicians, businessmen to the area were all accommodated in the Duke. During the early and middle part of the 20th Century, the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel played host to such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, DH Lawrence and Clarke Gable.
It was the first half of the 20th Century, Barrow-in-Furness and the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel were in their pomp. With a booming local economy, the hotel and town were enjoying wonderfully successful years.
The post World War II period saw the slow economic decline of both Barrow as a town and the Duke as a hotel. Decades of worry and hardship in the town saw the hotel lose most of its visiting guests and endured a slow but steady slip into decay.
Phil Simpson and Matt Jackson from Lancaster Brewery visited the hotel in 2006. At that point the Duke had lost all its pomp and was held together by a combination of damp and sticking plasters. It had been up for sale for many years, ignored by every leisure venue operator in the area and was moving towards closure as a hotel to be reopened as residential flats.
Nevertheless, despite the banks obvious disinterest in the venture, in the Summer of 2006 the Duke was purchased by Lancaster Brewery and a programme of refurbishment, renovation and reinvention began. Many, many years and millions of pounds later, the hotel has been returned to its early pomp and now offers 42 fantastic ensuite bedrooms, a wonderful cask ale bar and trendy yet welcoming cellar restaurant/bar.