English Lakes - History

The Hotels have enjoyed a very interesting and illustrious existence and each one has its own unique tales of days gone by, but here we have compiled the background which explains the development of English Lakes Hotels from 1952 until present day.

The Fifties & Sixties

The 1950s

Low Wood & Wild Boar Hotels Purchased

On 25th December 1952 Norman Buckley, great uncle of the present Chairman/Managing Director Simon Berry, purchased Low Wood Hotel.

On 8th August 1959, the Wild Boar Hotel was purchased.

Norman Buckley secures World Water Speed Records

During the 1950’s, Norman Buckley secured four World Water Speed Records on Lake Windermere in his own designed and built boats, Miss Windermere II and III.

Norman Buckley (Right) and Donald Campbell (Left)

The 1960s

The Royal Hotel added to portfolio

On 20th October 1965, the Royal Hotel was purchased. In 1969, the Wild Boar and Low Wood were increased in size considerably.

Further Water Speed Records Broken

Norman Buckley secured two further World Water Speed Records on Windermere in Miss Windermere IV. As well as these achievements he was the official timekeeper present at Campbell’s fatal attempt in Bluebird to raise his own World Water Speed Record on Coniston Water in January 1967.

The Seventies

The 1970s

Norman Buckley awarded MBE

Norman Buckley secured one more World Water Speed Record in Miss Windermere V. He was awarded the MBE for his endeavours on 3rd June 1972 and died November 1974.

Michael Berry becomes MD

Michael Berry, joined the group on 14th July 1972 and took over as Managing Director in 1974 when his uncle died.

The Waterhead joins the group

The Waterhead Hotel was purchased on 1st July 1975 and English Lakes Hotels Limited was established 16th May 1979.

The Waterhead Hotel

Douglas Dale manages The Wild Boar

Douglas Dale (now Operations Director) joined the company, as General Manager at The Wild Boar in July 1979.

The Eighties

The 1980s

Simon and Tim join the company

Simon (now Managing Director/Chairman) and Tim (Building & Leisure Director) joined their father in running the business.

Tim (Left) and Simon (Right) Berry outside Low Wood Bay Hotel

Low Wood Watersports Centre opens

The Low Wood Watersports Centre was created in August 1983 and officially opened by the Minister for Sport, Mr. Neil Macfarlane, M.P., on 9th January 1984.

Douglas Dale joins the board

Douglas Dale joined the board as Operations Director in October 1986.

Low Wood is Developed

Major developments took place at Low Wood with the building of the Conference Centre and Leisure Club, all of which opened in June 1989.

Low Wood Leisure Club Pool and Conference Centre

The Nineties

The 1990s

Prince Edward opens extended Low Wood

His Royal Highness Prince Edward officially opened the new extended Low Wood Hotel on 3rd March 1990.

Michael Berry and Prince Edward

Lancaster House Officially Opened

Lancaster House Hotel was the first green field site build and was opened 12th June 1991. Princess Alexandra performed the official opening ceremony on 4th December 1991.

Directors attend Disney Programme

In 1994 a number of Directors attended Disney University in Orlando, on a programme called "The Disney Approach to Quality Service".

Michael Doyle joins English Lakes

Michael Doyle (Financial Controller) joined the company.

Michael Berry awarded OBE

On 14th June 1997, Michael Berry was awarded the O.B.E. for services to training and tourism in Cumbria.

Simon Berry takes over as MD

On 1st July 1998, Simon Berry took over as Managing Director of the company, whilst his father Michael, remained as Executive Chairman.

The Two Thousands

The 2000s

2000 - Lifetime Achievement award for Michael Berry

Michael Berry was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Catering International Management Association.

2001 - Low Wood awarded 4 stars

In October 2001 Low Wood Hotel celebrated achieving 4 star status from the AA and RAC. This accolade followed improvements and re-development at the hotel amounting to £8 million over the previous 10 years.

2002 - English Lakes celebrates 50 years

In 2002 English Lakes Hotels celebrated its 50th anniversary and to commemorate this, and the tri-century of Low Wood, 1702-2002, Michael Berry launched his book ‘Low Wood on Windermere, Three Hundred Years of Lakeland History’. The book provided a detailed account of the inns history, beginning with the birth of Lakeland tourism.

2003 - Low Wood - 'Large Hotel of the Year'

In 2003 Low Wood Hotel won the ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ award in the Cumbria for Excellence Awards run by Cumbria Tourist Board.

2003 - Storrs Hall joins English Lakes

In April 2003, English Lakes Hotels announced the addition of Storrs Hall Hotel to their portfolio, under a management contract on the property.

In November the Waterhead Hotel closed to undergo a major redevelopment.

2004 - Waterhead undergoes Redevelopment

The Waterhead re-opened in April 2004 as the Lake District’s first 4 star Town House Hotel, following a re-development programme costing over £3 million. The new luxury hotel offers a style that can not be found elsewhere in the Lake District. The hotel was transformed from a 2 star, 27 bedroom hotel, to a luxurious and contemporary 41 bedroom, 4 star property. The Hotel subsequently won small hotel of the year awarded by Cumbria Tourism. The Royal, having been sold, ceased trading in September.

Waterhead Redevelopment

2004 - Michael Berry dies

Chairman Michael Berry died on 14th June 2004 following a long battle with cancer. His eldest son and Managing Director Simon, took on the role of Chairman. Tributes were paid to Michael Berry by many in recognition of his dedication and commitment to tourism and local history, heritage and community work.

2005

In May 2005 Lancaster House completed a £3 million extension and re-development programme consisting of a new conference and banqueting suite, almost doubling the hotels capacity, 19 new luxury bedroom suites, plus expansions to the Sandpiper Leisure Club and Sandman’s Bar.

Storrs Hall achieved 4 star status.

English Lakes enjoys plethora of Awards

In June English Lakes Hotels celebrated great success in the Enjoy England Tourism Awards with Low Wood and Lancaster House winning ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ in their respective Cumbria and Lancashire regional awards.

Waterhead was awarded ‘Large Hotel of the Year’; Lancaster House, ‘Business Tourism Award’ for Lancashire; Low Wood, ‘Business Tourism Award’ for Cumbria & ‘Excellence in Business and Tourism’; and went on to win the 2007 England’s Northwest Tourism Awards; The Company, ‘Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure Business Excellence Award’ for +1 Customer Service Initiative and ‘Best Family Business’ Coutts Award in 2006.

Wild Boar Woods

Whilst 72 acres of woodland adjacent to The Wild Boar were purchased, to give the Inn its own private woods for exclusive use of guests.

Low Wood Marina Opens

The Low Wood Marina was an exciting new development, providing Lake Windermere with an exceptional new boating facility.

2008 - Low Wood hosts The Great North Swim

In 2008 the first ever Great North Swim was held at Low Wood Bay with over 2000 open water swimmers taking part. David Neale joined the company as Commercial Director at the end of the year.

2009 - The Midland joins English Lakes

The Midland, in Morecambe, joined the group in 2009. The hotel was highly commended ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ in the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourism Awards for 2009/10. Also, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded the Hotel an award for its high architectural standard and for making a substantial contribution to the local environment.

The Midland Hotel

2010 to Present day

2010

Redeveloped Wild Boar Reopens

The Wild Boar was reopened after an extensive development to 17 feature and luxury rooms, and Grill and Smokehouse additions.

English Lakes helps Nurture Lakeland

English Lakes reached an impressive figure of £100,000.00 raised by the group for Nurture Lakeland to help aid their conservation work for the local environment.

English Lakes rebranded

The company name and all properties benefited from a rebranding exercise which included the company becoming English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues to better reflect the groups market position and future plans.

2012

Convention Centre Approved

In May 2012 the Lake District National Park Authority decided in favour of their officer’s findings by a 12 to 1 majority and pass the plans for a Low Wood Bay Convention Centre which will offer South Lakeland a fantastic development fit for the future.

English Lakes celebrates 60 years

After many great milestones, accolades and awards, the Berry family are able to celebrate 60 years of being involved in the hotel and leisure industry in 2012.

2013

English Lakes ends management of Storrs Hall

After 10 years English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues decided not to continue the joint venture agreement with Storrs Hall Hotel Ltd. Simon Berry said "We have had a good ten years at Storrs however we have decided at a strategic level to focus on our owned properties where we have full control over direction and investment".

The 60th Birthday Cake

The Midland celebrates 80 years

The Midland Iconic Art Deco Hotel celebrated its 80th anniversary with several exciting events throughout 2013.

2014

The Midland gets AA Rosette

The Midland attained an AA food rosette in recognition of its food preparation, use of wholesome ingredients and service to guests.

English Lakes properties get Gold

Each of our five properties achieved Gold certification for excellence in the Green Tourism Business Awards with the elevation of both Waterhead and The Midland joining our other three properties with the highest level awarded by Green Tourism.

Mark Needham (Waterhead) and Matt Stanaway (The Midland) with their Gold Award Certificates

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