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INTERVIEW: Morecambe antiques dealer moves to new home in Lancaster city centre

Lee Clarke inside the new 'The Old Sea Dog' antiques centre in Lancaster

An antiques dealer has moved his treasure trove of collector's items from Morecambe Promenade to a new home in Lancaster city centre.

Lee Clarke is set to open 'The Old Sea Dog' on Moor Lane in the city centre on Wednesday, April 17.

Lee previously ran the Bayside Emporium antiques centre on Marine Road Central in Morecambe, which will be closing down.

He decided to move when the former Mitchell's Brewery office and wine bin became available in Lancaster.

His former premises in Morecambe is being earmarked for demolition to make way for a new hotel.

Lee spoke to Beyond Radio ahead of the opening of his new antiques centre in Lancaster

"We couldn't keep the name Bayside Emporium because we're not by the Bay any more," said Lee.

"Lancaster has a strong maritime heritage and we do stock a lot of old seafaring stuff. I'm a big collector myself and I love old maritime salvage, so we thought we'd go with 'The Old Sea Dog'.

"The longtime view for us was always to come to Lancaster. We're in a great area. We love the area, there are some great businesses here and they've all made us very welcome.

"This building was originally Mitchell's offices and more recently the Mitchell's wine bin, an alcohol retailer. It's a great space for us."

Here is Lee outside his former shop the Bayside Emporium in Morecambe.

Plans to bulldoze the Bayside Emporium, and other nearby businesses at 228-235 Marine Road Central, to make way for a new hotel, shop and restaurant, were approved in 2023.

The planning permission is for a five-storey building, which includes a ground floor shop and restaurant as well as the 86-bedroom hotel in the other four floors. The new hotel is expected to house guests visiting Morecambe for the planned new Eden Project attraction, which is scheduled to open over the next two-three years.

Work is yet to begin on the new hotel, but some of Lee's neighbours have already moved out. Bays Bikes bicycle shop has moved to new premises on Alice Street in Morecambe, and The Consult Centre social media agency to a new office at 299 Marine Road Central.

Read more: INTERVIEW: Morecambe firm moves due to plans to demolish former offices for hotel - Beyond Radio

Now Lee has decided to make the move too.

"It's sad in some respects but we can't run two shops and it's well-documented that at some point our block was going to be bulldozed," he said.

"We already had massive footfall in our shop so we couldn't have coped once the Eden Project was up and running.

"We jumped ship because (the Lancaster shop) became available. We would have liked to do a last season in Morecambe. We could have done. I think a lot of developers are waiting for Eden to put a shovel in before they start doing anything themselves.

"But we knew we were going to go, and it's ended up being sooner rather than later, which we're really excited about."

Lee's interest in antiques began as a teenager. He later started a removal business and then opened a shop when he reached his 50s.

'The Old Sea Dog' has many fascinating items with a story behind them, including many from local history.

For example, this dolphin sign used to be outside the old Marineland in Morecambe.

He also has an old Midland Hotel sign, a 1907 cash register and a ship's figurehead which was behind the bar at the Hazelmere Hotel in Morecambe for many years!

"We're like a museum where people can buy things!" he said.

"You meet some great characters. It's just a great job."

Read more: Plan revealed to bulldoze Morecambe Prom businesses to make way for new hotel - Beyond Radio

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