Those Memories Made on Teardrop Lake – (83) Sleeping at the Claremont Hotel (Part 01)
Shallowfield sat on the southern edge of the Finchbottom Vale and was bordered on the other side by the Dancingdean forest and the town’s fortunes had always relied largely upon forestry and agriculture for its survival.
In the post war years with rationing and a shortage of work a lot of people moved away from the area and it only just survived and the community around Teardrop Lake fared even worse.
Only a few of the houses around the Lake were thriving, a lot of the houses had been rented out and those that hadn’t were in a poor state of repair, some too such an extent they were little more than ruins.
But by the 70s however things were beginning to change, thanks mainly to tourism as a result of an increase in leisure time.
This trend was reflected by the fact that the previously derelict Shallowfield Lodge, which had been inherited by a young couple from Lincolnshire, Rob and Sheryl Brown, was being turned into a Hotel.
From then on Shallowfield went from strength to strength which was echoed by the fortunes of the Claremont Hotel.
It was once the home of a wealthy Downshire family but like so many similar great houses in the county it fell into disuse as the fortunes of the owners suffered after the Great War.
It had had many reincarnations since then, particularly in the years between the wars and had been used for many things over the post war years but it wasn’t until the 60s that it became The Claremont Hotel.
However things had got tough in the Hotel trade with the success of Travelodge, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn Express and so places like the Claremont needed to offer something extra to attract the guests.
In the early summer a new manager was appointed, Matthew Millward, and he was an instant hit with the locals because he was young, tall, dark and handsome, physically fit, well-toned and had a reputation as a fair minded guy, which had very much preceded him.
He was 28 years old and his father owned the Millward Manor chain of hotels and he was grooming him to one day take over the reins of his worldwide hotel empire, the problem was that Matt had no head for business and he felt that he was more of an artistic soul.
Which could possibly have been ignored but for the fact that he had broken off his engagement with the granddaughter of his father’s oldest friend.
However that in itself wasn’t what had him exiled, it was Elaine’s attempted suicide, not that his action had caused her mental meltdown, it was rather more her mental instability being the deciding factor that forced him to end the engagement.
So it was decided to send Matt to the Claremont Hotel where he could do no real harm until the dust settled.
When he first found out he was being sent to Shallowfield, Matt was very unhappy, he was a city boy, born and bred, and he viewed being sent to the country as purgatory, but no one was more surprised than he was when he found that he actually loved it, it was a beautiful place, it was quiet and the air was clean and he felt immediately at home.