The Imperial Hotel, at the eastern end of Gloddaeth Crescent in Llandudno, was created in 1872 by uniting a string of boarding houses originating from 1865. Extended upwards in the beginning of the 20th century, and again in 1972 after a serious fire on the top floor.
The hotel’s grandeur attracted many wealthy and prestigious guests throughout the years and held grand banquets especially during the Christmas and Boxing Day period. Menus including the likes of Caviar d’Astrakan and common favourites we still have today, mince pies.
Christmas in Llandudno – The Imperial Hotel Menu
Guests at the Imperial
The hotel was known to accommodate Prince Leopold in August 1873, the son of Queen Victoria, who stayed incognito with this aide.
The Imperial Hotel was also a long-term residence for exiled Queen Rambai Barni of Siam until she, like everyone else, was turned out in 1940 when the Imperial became the headquarters of Britain’s evacuated Inland Revenue Department during World War II. Queen Rambai Barni was subsequently allowed to return to Thailand, and died in Bangkok on 22 May 1984, aged 79.
The Imperial Hotel in Llandudno
During the war
The first of 200 civil servants arrived in the spring of 1940 to set up their headquarters at The Imperial Hotel. They soon requisitioned over 400 hotels, boarding houses and private residences in the area to house the Inland Revenue departments, its staff and their families. Another 900 civil servants arrived in summer 1940, and another 3,500 later that year.
The civil servants became part of the local community and many joined the local Home Guard, patrolling the area alongside local men. As there was very little to do in their spare time in the war years they decided to put on amateur shows and at Christmas they organised a party in the Town Hall for 1,000 local children – treating them to tea and entertainment which included, comic songs, ventriloquism and conjuring. The newly formed Inland Revenue band also often performed alongside the town band and during parades and fundraising events.
For most of the war, future Prime Minister Jim Callaghan (1976-1979) had an office at the Imperial, and for six years he had a flat a few doors away at 7 Mostyn Crescent. Originally arriving as assistant secretary to the Inland Revenue Staff Federation, he soon became billeting officer, filling most of the town’s 400 hotels, and later the entertainment officer. His second daughter (Julia) was born at Llandudno Hospital. He was later called up towards the end of the war for service with the Royal Navy.
A month after the end of the war, in September 1945, the first 400 civil servants left Llandudno for London, with the rest following gradually, as many of London’s buildings had to be rebuilt and refurbished after the Blitz.
Events at the Imperial
As well as famous figures, The Imperial was the go-to place to host important events. The 54th Philatelic Congress of Great Britain was held at the Imperial Hotel in 1972 – the first occasion for the Congress to visit Wales. A special grand Post Office was opened at the hotel for the event.
In 1958, The Imperial was also host to the banquet for the appointment of the Masonic Grand Master Lord Kenyon.
Table plan for banquet of the appointment of Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Kenyon.