Swiss Cottage

Discussion in 'Talbot Street' started by Alastair, 8th Jun 2020.

  1. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    Yeah like posted above the park's whole appeal was quite different at that time, the gardens and Towers were a much bigger part of the day trip, but even then not that busy seemingly.

    To me it seemed like a strange concept even for the 80s, a formal restaurant in the middle of the gardens (it is quite isolated to be honest), in the middle of a theme park. Does anyone who was there remember visiting the Swiss Cottage for themselves?

    If they brought the gardens back into Alton Towers' identity and appeal, then maybe something could be done. More of a cafe than a formal restaurant probably, mix it with an exhibition of the gardens maybe!

    But then there's the flipside that if the gardens became more visited today, would it suffer more vandalism ? This is one reason the Towers aren't open as much anymore.
     
    Last edited: 10th Jun 2020
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  2. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    I visited a few times around the corkscrew opening years.
    Posh, silver service, and very busy for lunch...if you werent there for high noon, you would queue for an hour for your lunch.
    Remember high tea in the garden more, not cheap, but a nice way to end the day.
    Shutting at 3 back in the day due to licensing rules, and the parks general attitude to booze at that time, is what killed it off.
    It isnt that far out of the way, and it was a stepping stone to the bottom half of the gardens, that are now out of bounds behind the boundary fence.
    Not a very thrilling experience, typical posh house tearoom.
    The half drunk welsh harpist started a fight at the bar on the hour for customer entertainment.
     
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  3. James

    James TS Founding Member

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    I think the idea of a tea room serving hot drinks, scones, sandwiches and light bites would be more appealing than a full blown restaurant, I can't imagine it would cost that much to run as a tea room. However the building has been left in such a state it's probably not worth the investment which is a shame.

    If the Towers ruins and gardens were promoted more as a part of the Alton Towers experience and promoted as a part of short breaks, there would certainly be scope to do something with the Swiss cottage. However the gardens are not used in any marketing and have been left in a state (admittedly it has improved since last year), the Towers ruins is either a bunch of scare mazes setup all year round or a glorified storage unit and the majority of people see Alton Towers as a quick visit, rush through the rides, bugger off home (not helped by reduced hours).

    Sadly nothing will happen in the near future.
     
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  4. Dar

    Dar TowersStreet Member

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    I reckon they could get away with turning it into a museum of the park and towers, like the one at Holiday Park or Historama at EP. One roaming member of staff to keep an eye, lots of pictures and props from the past, and maybe a little coffee stand and some chairs outside. Although they'd need to do something to manage litter if they went with takeaway cups.
     
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  5. Ben

    Ben TS Founding Member

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    Im sure its not that long since it was used for a Scarefest meal / event so to see the state of the kitchens and toilets is very surprising; there must have been some work to get that up to scratch for the event, did they just lock the door after and not touch it?

    Theres odd things like modern plug sockets, shut-off power to the fryers that are all modern then in other rooms it looks like it not been touched for 20 years.

    In my head I always wanted towers to have a real premium restaurant venue at night, shuttle hotel residents in and make a point of being in the park out of hours. I used to think the old Towers St restaurant would have worked well (jump on monorail, dinner, drinks, go back) with views of the towers.
    Actually this could be even nicer, real premium stuff. A little shuttle from the hotel to the gardens, led to the venue, dinner and drinks, then escorted back.
     
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  6. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    The Halloween event was out the front of the Swiss Cottage, we had a Q&A there one meet, it was all under cover and was like a camp fire, etc. So don’t think the Swiss Cottage was used at all. It’s a bit of a state in there and I imagine it’s not just from the last couple of years.

    As for the plus and lighting, I believe it was Offices for a few years after it was the restaurant, so i guess they just fitted plugs and stuff in all the rooms and they were probably full of desks and computers. However no clue when that happened or ended.

    Looking at park maps, it seems 1996 was its last year as a restaurant. I guess by then less and less people were visiting the park for the gardens and towers and more for the theme park, what with nemesis opening just before and Tussaud’s really going down the theme park route and not the garden/house route.
     
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  7. Ben

    Ben TS Founding Member

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    Wasnt there a wedding banquet held in there as part of screfest?
    Super uprcharge thing
     
  8. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    Bear in mind in the John Broome years the park tried to have an 'up market' image which didnt necessarily reflect the wider appeal of the leisure park. When Towers Street was built it sold gold pens, Gucci watches etc, doesnt actually reflect what a typical visitor would buy though on a day to a theme park! Tussauds pretty sensibly did away with that side of things.

    I wonder if the Swiss Cottage was along the same lines, if it was even used that much in the 80s. I've never heard from anybody who ever went there for a meal.
     
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  9. Squiggs

    Squiggs TS Site Team Team Member

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    In a good bit of timing, the Walk in the Past article I published for the Lock In today has a couple of bits on the Swiss Cottage. One of the images was already shared in the thread but there's also a much older image of the cottage pre-war.

    Interestingly, whilst the Swiss Cottage was in use as a tea room/restaurant from at least the 1920s if not earlier, the outdoor terrace space wasn't added until around 1983.

    I reckon the last time the Swiss Cottage was in regular use was probably around 2011, but even then I suspect it was only the office space upstairs, though I have a hunch that the old restaurant space downstairs was used as a space for internal meetings at that time too.
     
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  10. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    That sounds almost like what they have done with Rollercoaster Restaurant, except they put it as close as possible to the hotels so the monorail isn't needed. I agree it would have been nice if they did more in the park as you talk about, but realistically I think rollercoaster restaurant is now the premium evening on-park place.
     
  11. Ben

    Ben TS Founding Member

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    I said premium.... ;)
     
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  12. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    Premium prices or food quality? ;)
     

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