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Home | Blogs | A History of Byron Woolacombe

A History of Byron

From the Narracott grand Hotel to Byron Woolacombe luxury holiday apartments

Woolacombe is a special place to many people, either as the place they have called home, or as the place come to visit in their home away from home. The three-mile beach at Woolacombe is one of the most popular in the region, it is an award-winning beach and is a haven for surfers, families and more. The town of Woolacombe has everything that you would expect to find in a town of this size, including some amazing restaurants and accommodation.

The Narracott Grand Hotel, 1967

Byron Woolacombe, 2019

The Narracott Grand hotel

Steeped in history Woolacombe is a typical Edwardian/Victorian coastal resort town dominated by large villa style houses and grand hotels. In the 1880’s a Barnstaple architect, Arnold Thorne, laid out Woolacombe for development as a coastal resort and as they say the rest is history…

A favourite addition to ‘sixties seaside hotels, The Narracott Grand Hotel, Woolacombe offered a tropical indoor pool, heated to 80°F in 1965. It was overlooked by the “unique Casino Bar”. There was ballroom and “Beat” dancing every night in the ballroom and Cabaret Bar. There were also film shows, a ladies’ hairdresser, a games room and TV rooms.

For many their memories of Woolacombe involve their time spent at the Narracott Grand. Steve Brown from the Woolacombe and Morthoe Voice writes “What happened was amazing by any standard. In a relatively few years during the mid-1960s, this semidetached Edwardian hotel was transformed into the modernistic building as seen today.

We watched the construction in awe; rumours abounded until, eventually, the signs went up ‘Cabaret Bar’. What did this mean? ‘So went the dialogue in the village. Dictionaries were hastily consulted to understand what was to be foisted upon the good people of the parish. And what happened was amazing by any standard.

It opened onto 1960s Woolacombe – our entertainment would never be the same again. It was commonplace for the glitterati of Torbay to leave their homeland, bypass Exeter, and travel to The Narracott on Saturday nights to enjoy the best of National Entertainment! For opportunistic Woolacombe boys, the chance to mix with the sophisticates of the south coast was a dream come true. To us nothing could usurp the glamour of The Narracott.” The Narracott – Steve Brown | (woolacombemortehoevoice.co.uk)

As with many seaside resorts of the sixties and seventies as the times changed and years passed the the high standards of the hotel may have been lost but many fantastic memories remained. The Grand Narracott Hotel shut its doors once and for all in 2009 to become the new home of the flagship Byron Woolacombe Development.

Byron Woolacombe – A 10 Year Journey

The Byron Development Early Concept Visual

In 2002 Jamie Dellow & Alan Bristow, business directors from Bath, decided to purchase caravans next to each other in Croyde Bay. The families had been closely connected by Jamie and Alan’s passion for rugby but it was the times spent with their families and children on the North Devon beaches, evenings in local pubs and restaurants and many coastal walks to Baggy Point that really tied these families together. Year after year of fantastic memories, as naturally happens, the children grew up and once teenagers decided they were not as fond with continuing with family holidays with their parents and ‘annoying younger siblings’ in a smaller secluded space, so the two families decided to sell their caravans to move onto pastures new.

During 2008, whilst exploring for a potential business opportunity for Jamie’s construction business, he and his wife Lizzie came across the Narracott Grand Hotel in Woolacombe and Jamie envisioned redeveloping the flagship hotel in Woolacombe into self-catering holiday apartments, which would allow for families, couples and friends to create their own special memories in this special area of North Devon, just as they had with their own family. The Narracott hotel was the pinnacle of holidays in Woolacombe during the 60s and 70s and it was this rich history that was targeted by Byron to be emulated once again in the 21st century in Woolacombe.

From Concept to Reality

Jamie and Alan along with four other friends Paul E, Phil Paul H and Robert set about creating Byron. The dream would be creating somewhere that could be enjoyed by families with their children, but also with future grandchildren. It would be a destination that suited everyone, at every stage of their life and a place that remained at the heart of family memories and trips for years to come. This was encapsulated with the design of large, free-flowing open plan spaces that would allow space for children to roam and play, but also teenagers alike, to feel free to enjoy their own space but also time with their parents.

Like all stories, this one was full of bumps in the road… The 2009 recession caused huge delays to the start of the project and meant that the Byron start date was pushed back many years from its original completion. Combined with personal family losses, Brexit and the COVID Pandemic these also added to the story of Byron Woolacombe and the adversity and challenges it has faced to be open and operating as it is today.  However, with great pleasure and relief the directors were ecstatic to announce Byron Woolacombe Apartments and Byron Woolacombe Holidays officially open for business on the 18th of June 2019, almost 10 years after they had bought the old Narracott Grand Hotel. It was a day filled with immense pride and joy for the directors and all those involved with the Byron project.

“We are so happy to see Byron Woolacombe Holidays providing the base for so many people’s holidays in Woolacombe once again and creating the memories that will stay with them for a lifetime”. Jamie Dellow.

Watch our video on 10 year journey of Byron Woolacombe below!

The directors would like to dedicate the development to Lizzie Dellow, fellow director of Byron and Jamie’s wife and Nikki Carter, Byron’s head of finance who we so sadly lost in 2013 and 2018 respectively. We know they’d be so proud of the achievements of the directors and the fabulous onsite team at Byron making the business what it is today and being the place where many people come can and spend wonderfully happy times and make fabulous memories with their families in Woolacombe.

Lizzie Dellow

Nikki Carter

A short history on the redevelopment of the former Narracott Grand Hotel to Byron Woolacombe, a scheme of 57 holiday-let apartments and communal facilities. This transformative project was completed in 2019 by Blast Properties Ltd. Book your holiday with Byron Woolacombe Holidays today here!

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