Ask anyone in town about art deco buildings and they will point you in the direction of The Cumberland Hotel. Named after the renowned art deco Marble Arch hotel in London, it is now one of Europe’s only remaining free standing art deco hotels.
Construction was completed in 1937 at the height of the art deco period by a Mr Rowley and follows a very classic art deco design and shape. Mr Rowley’s daughter now lives in Pasadena, USA. She has informed the hotel that she and her friend Rhoda Goodman placed a five multi-sided three penny bits under each of the foundation stones, in fact she still has the very trowel that laid that stone back in the 30’s, and has even promised to send it from Pasadena.
The 1938 Bournemouth Guide promotes the Cumberland as having: “Air Conditioning”, A “Maple Spring Dance Floor” and “Softened Water” all of which were considered luxuries of the day.
Our research suggests that the Cumberland didn’t actually open its doors to guests until 1949 although the reasons for this are unknown.
During World War II, the building was commandeered by the army to house troops defending the south coast, it is said they were American troops and also that the daughter of the owner at this time actually married an American serviceman. There are some reports that a heavy machine gun was positioned on the roof, as Cumberland was at the time one of the only buildings that the beach could be viewed from. Some research shows that it was used as a Military Hospital. Very little is known of this period of the hotels history.
Post war, from 1949 The Cumberland became the largest Kosher hotel in Europe, complete with its very own synagogue until it closed in 1986. The Hotel provided “superb accommodation and sumptuous Kosher meals with all-inclusive packages, that included top entertainment, full board, afternoon tea and evening tea” The hotel was very successful in the 1950s and 1960s and have had several changes of ownership up to the present day. It is now owned by Oceana Hotels & Restaurants.
Images © Copyright Alwyn Ladell, 2010, on Flickr.com