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The Song of the Swan

Cover  -  Introduction  -  Chapter 1  - Chapter 2  -  Chapter 3  -  Chapter 4 
Chapter 5   -   Chapter 6   -   Chapter 7   -   Pictures

Chapter 7

It became clear that conference and trade fairs favour certain times of the year only. They need maximum attendances and during children's summer holidays, delegates cannot be convened. The smaller hotels have always maintained their holiday visitors throughout the year, but visitors to inland resorts, meeting hotel charges out of income, tend to avoid the inevitably higher tariffs of the full service establishments which conferences need.

So the Old Swan heeded the words of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and did cast bread upon the waters and did send the polyglot managing director to Holland, to the three Scandinavian countries, and to Germany, to market and sell the gracious way of living to potential overseas visitors with such success that two awards from the then British Travel Association's "Come to Britain" Trophy were won.

The North American market was visited , both the United States and Canada, with even greater success. So popular had the inn-keeper from the Old Swan at Harrogate become, that in the company of the town crier from Lambeth in London and Ben Bigg, the roast cook to London's Lord Mayor, they roasted an ox on Bloor Street West, outside the new offices of the British Travel Association in Toronto, and tempted the enthusiastic crowds with Britainburgers. After that, armed with Coach Horn and Stirrup cups, our innkeeper travelled from coast to coast extolling the virtues of a holiday in Britain, in Yorkshire, in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel - and they came. The Old Swan Hornblower welcomes them, with coach horn and coaching regalia.

One amusing incident occurred at a VIP luncheon in the Red Lounge during the installation of private bathrooms to the bedrooms above - a plumber having left an open pipe, turned on the water by mistake. It was "arx celebris fontibus" all over again! The fountain poured on to the bald plate of the presiding mayor and seemed to bounce equally on to the heads of the two lordships sitting beside him. This was too much for Bill Baxter who was never at a loss for a news item which would publicise his town. He rushed to the telephone and reported the happening to the national press who took up the story in big style, so much so that two years later on the west coast of Canada, travel agents were asking the Innkeeper of the Old Swan for greater details of the hilarious event!

Socially, the prestige of the Old Swan has been pre-eminent in the minds of the county people, and when they didn't wish to put on wedding receptions at home, the Garden Suite was first choice. Yorkshire hosts feel at home at the Old Swan, and the hotel staff feel at home with the guests; it is a cultured place; the Literary Luncheons put on by the Yorkshire Post started at the Old Swan when Kenneth Young, editor and gastronome, realised his every need would be satisfied in the lovely Wedgwood Dining Room. To mark the association "The Library", intimate a la carte restaurant, has been created.

Succeeding masters of the Bramham Moor Hunt with which membership has been maintained all over the years, come to the Old Swan whenever they hold a party. The Hunt meets on the lawns in front of the hotel on the Saturday nearest to New Yea and forms part of the annual Christmas House Party. The Bramham Room Buffet is named after the hunt and the oil paintings by Joseph Appleyard are irreplaceable.

The members of the Coaching Club, whenever they come north, drive down from the Great Yorkshire Show in their beautiful four-in-hand coaches and dine with their guests in the Garden Suite. No less than fourteen of these wonderful vehicles carrying over 100 guests came on 12th July 1977, the Queen's Jubilee Year.

The Yorkshire Driving Club rallies every Whit-Sunday at the Old Swan and after a drive with the Mayor and Mayoress round the town and alongside The Stray with their guests, return for a real Yorkshire High Tea or sometimes a Leg o' Mutton supper, and sugar knobs for the ponies.

The Claro Beagles have favoured the hotel with their annual Hunt Ball each year in all the post-war years.

The annual visit, now no more, to preside over the annual general meeting of the NSPCC, of HRH, the late Princess Royal is a loss we have to bear; her tea service has been put away in memory of her; nostalgia perhaps only for the older ones at the Old Swan today.

Masonic Ladies and Rotarians; Nursery matrons and Trade Unions all appreciate Harrogate and the Old Swan Hotel.

The company's directors and all past and present members of the hotel staff appreciate and are honoured by the patronage of all these discerning guests; we all hope we shall deserve such approval of our efforts and skills for many more years to come.

1978 is the centenary year of our company - Old Swan Hotel (Harrogate) Ltd. The Swan Inn was here before 1700. Grainge, the historian, writing in 1840, said it was then a low concern, not morally but structurally! The sign of the swan means "innocence and faithfulness"; a crowned heraldic swan shows allegiance to the Duchy of Lancaster having been taken from the badge of King Henry V of that house, upon whose land, once his, now ours, we stand, respectfully to Queen and Country still. We prefer to think of the Old Swan as an upright concern both structurally and morally.

"Who'ere has travelled life's dull round
Where 'ere his changing course has been
Will sigh and think how oft he found
His warmest welcome - at an Inn."




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