< UNITED KINGDOM | NEWQUAY: The Headland Hotel & Spa
The Headland Hotel Company was formed in 1897 with the express intention of building the finest hotel in the south-west. When work commenced there was
immediate opposition from the local fisherman, who claimed the hotel was being built on common land they had used to dry their nets for generations. Feelings ran high and
local workmen were intimidated into stopping work.
One night a group came up from the town and pulled down the foundation walls, burned the scaffolding and threw the foreman's hut into the sea. The Newquay Riots, as they were known, resulted in several men being fined and all work grinding to a halt. Two hundred unemployed miners from Redruth were recruited because the locals were unwilling to return to the site, and as the new workers arrived in Newquay, traction engines equipped with steam hoses were used to keep the resentful natives at bay.
The hotel was finished to the highest standards: a DC generator was installed in a remote underground chamber; there were two bathrooms for gentlemen and two for ladies on each floor; every bedroom had a fire place, hot and cold running water, electric light, and an electric service bell. The Headland opened for business in June 1900. The first manager was dismissed for unexplained stock deficiencies six months later.
The Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, whilst training at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, came to the Headland to convalesce after suffering from mumps. His younger brother Bertie, later King George VI, joined him for company. The two princes occupied Rooms 102, 103 and 104, all interconnecting at that time. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra stayed at the hotel on several occasions in the first decade of the century.
Between the wars the hotel was very stylish. The Ballroom was formed in its present position, which had previously been a drawing room and a writing room, and was decorated in black and silver with many mirrors. Fashionable London orchestras were booked for the summer season and the BBC used to broadcast Palm Court band music regularly. The Ballroom floor is of the finest quality and is supported by some 2,500 small coil springs under the maple boards. There are several access points into which a large key can be inserted to alter the amount of spring the floor gives; 300 people dancing energetically and rhythmically can induce a floor movement of about 2 inches.
During the Second World War the hotel was requisitioned and became an RAF hospital. From time to time former patients and nursing staff come to see if the hotel is still standing. On many occasions there have been reports of men in uniforms walking around the corridors late at night. In 1980 some children, unaware of such stories, told their parents of a lady who had walked through their bedroom in the evening, without using doors, wearing a "long, dark coat without arms and a funny small white hat on her head". Was she a nurse in uniform perhaps? Nobody knows, but the parents in Room 103 did not sleep very well that night.
After the war the hotel was de-requisitioned and needed much work to return to its former state. The work was undertaken by a local builder, A F Luxon, who acquired an increasing number of shares in the Headland Hotel Company until he had a controlling interest.
Having sold their cottage and a smaller hotel, John and Carolyn Armstrong bought the hotel in a very run down condition in March 1979. They arrived without any working capital, and struggled for many years to maintain and improve the building and add essential new facilities.
When the Armstrong’s bought The Headland, the core business was the family leisure market from Easter to October. The hotel closed for 5 months in the winter. The season has now lengthened and the Headland is now open for 12 months, closing just for a few days over Christmas. Guests come from all over the world, for surfing, family holidays, making films (The Witches being the best), fashion shoots (David Bailey was here in 1999 for Italian Vogue), conferences, weddings (the hotel has a civil licence), romantic breaks (including the Blind Date prize) etc. The BBC Clothes Show used the Sand Brasserie, and The Headland was the only privately owned site hosting the Radio One Road Show annually.
In 1987 the hotel was listed Grade II by the Department of the Environment as being a building of particular architectural interest. The site is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) being a raised beach containing many interesting fossils.
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