Hotel turns back clock to celebrate 35th anniversary

A ROTHERHAM hotel is turning back the clock for a series of retro events to mark its 35th birthday.

The Carlton Park Hotel in Moorgate Road has survived a fire, been dubbed Yorkshire’s most romantic workplace and even provided a home to a popular parrot.

And this month it is celebrating its latest milestone birthday with a series of shows paying tribute to the pop stars of the past four decades.

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They’ve welcomed performers highlighting the songs of Cilla Black, the magic of Motown on Monday and the hits of Elton John and Frank Sinatra, and the retro programme continues next week with a Neil Diamond tribute and more Motown next Monday, Buddy Holly’s best bits on Tuesday and a Shirley Bassey act on Thursday.

Back when the hotel opened in 1981, it was Bucks Fizz who were the toast of the nation after landing the Eurovision crown, while flags waved to mark the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Dubbed “the North of England's most luxurious venue” on its opening, the Moorgate-based hotel gave residents the chance to savour a range of delicacies of the day including Hawaiian cocktails and melon served in port — and that was just for starters.

Its Pavilion Bar was adorned with exotic palm trees and even a parrot cage was installed. The blinged-up birdcage reputedly costing more than £2,000 to build — more than enough to buy a brand new Vauxhall Astra — and was home to a blue and yellow Macaw, aptly called Carlton.

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Jason Gossop, sales manager, Carlton Park Hotel said: “It’s hard to imagine the excitement there must have been on that first opening night as Rotherham gained its first luxury hotel.

“Today, we employ more than 100 people and the hotel has firmly established itself as a prominent local landmark.

“Over the past 35 years, the hotel has had a very colourful history. During our research we unearthed some incredible stories about some of the people who have worked and visited here.”

By the 1990s, the butter-basted dishes enjoyed on the hotel’s opening night had been replaced with much healthier options, seeing the hotel awarded a prestigious Heartbeat award by Rotherham Borough Council for helping to lead the fight against heart disease in the town.

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In 2001 — two years after the hotel was granted its own civil marriage licence — trouble loomed just two years later when parent company Queens Moat House collapsed and the hotel was sold twice before being acquired by family-run Skyland Hotels.

The new owners invested more than £2 million refurbishing many areas of the hotel as well as expanding its function room facilities.

All was going well until 2008, when disaster struck.

A fire which started in the kitchen saw the hotel close for nine months, leaving both staff and the hotel facing an uncertain future.

The Carlton Park’s owners ignored advice from its insurers