Health researcher highlights Morecambe’s history to mark museum centenary

Lancaster City Museums © Lancaster City Museums
The subject of Dr Brewster's podcast is a 1920s holiday guide to Morecambe featuring the town’s motto “Beauty Surrounds, Health Abounds”.

Lancaster University researcher Dr Liz Brewster is talking about Morecambe as part of a series of local history podcasts and exhibitions to mark a hundred years of Lancaster City Museums.

To mark the centenary milestone, a hundred objects housed across the city’s museums will be featured in weekly podcasts featuring local people, experts and museum staff.

Many of the contributors are from Lancaster University including Dr Liz Brewster from Lancaster Medical School, whose chosen object is a 1920s holiday guide to Morecambe featuring the town’s motto “Beauty Surrounds, Health Abounds”.

Dr Brewster said: “I talk about how in the 1800s, Victorian seaside resorts and ‘taking the waters’ was associated with health. This came from a long tradition of spas and healing waters, hydrotherapy and was particularly good for people with rheumatic conditions like arthritis. As time progressed, ‘taking the sea air’ was also part of a health-seeking narrative. People came to Morecambe because it was easy to travel to on the railway, a beautiful and attractive environment and very different from the mill towns across the Leeds and Bradford area where people lived.”

But competition from package holidays led to a decline in Morecambe’s fortunes, while an ageing population transformed it into a retirement community.

“The decline of health-related tourism, and tourism more broadly, meant that there was high unemployment. Morecambe became unfashionable, and the housing stock, with big town houses that had previously been hotels, became houses of multiple occupancy.”

In the 2021 Chief Medical Officer’s report Health in Coastal Communities, Morecambe was one of the many coastal towns identified as having multiple challenges to the health and wellbeing of those living there. Older populations, seasonal employment leading to high levels of poverty, and the problems of being on the periphery also make it difficult to recruit and retain healthcare staff.

But Dr Brewster said many of these problems are common to other coastal towns and Morecambe is still an attractive destination.

“One of the reasons I picked this object is my own passion for the town. Morecambe still has a lot of good things about it. The beauty of the bay is still a huge draw, and the access to outdoor spaces for exercise – walking, running, and cycling along the prom, for example – are fantastic.

The podcasts can be found at They can also be found on Amazon Music and Spotify by searching for ‘Lancaster City Museums’.

Councillor Sandra Thornberry, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for arts, culture, leisure and wellbeing, said: “This special celebration of a hundred years will shine a spotlight on the rich history of our district while bringing together members of community groups, university students and experts, who will bring objects and stories alive through the podcasts.”

The celebration year will culminate in November 2023 enabling local people to vote for their favourite objects, which will result in a ‘100 favourite objects’ exhibition.

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