Features: Early Ideas – Version 1

 

The Crossroads Hotel that hit the screen in early 2001 featured characters that we grew to know and love, but many of them didn’t always feature in Carlton’s plans for the show.

 

We have been given exclusive access to Carlton Television’s early drafts of character breakdowns and a detailed look at (ultimately unused) continuity from 1988-2001.

 

 

 

CROSSROADS: AT A GLANCE

 

THE PAST…

 

Meg Richardson opened the Crossroads Motel in 1964 and for 17 years was its mainstay. After she emigrated, her daughter Jill Harvey inherited  the business and ran it for a  further seven years before ultimately leaving her business partner and husband Adam Chance in the lurch and eloping with her lover to the West Country.

 

It was 1988

 

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT…

 

The motel was aquired by the Rameses Leisure Group in 1989 and slipped into obscurity. When Rameses experienced financial difficulties, Hawk Properties – the creation of enigmatic millionaire Conrad Hawk, bought the site for a bargain £4.5 million. Over the next two years the hotel underwent an extensive re-build to realise its full potential.

 

It was 1999

 

THIS IS NOW…

 

A new matriarchal figure is at the helm of Crossroads hotel. She is Shirley Russell –a savvy businesswoman and single mother of Mark and Nicola. In many ways the hotel hasn’t changed – it still retains its family run atmosphere and sense of tradition. But there the similarities end.

 

The Crossroads of the new millennium embraces new technology, state of the art leisure facilities and a young, energetic staff – some of whom are not all they appear to be. Plus all the emotional trials and tribulations that such a combustible mix implies…

 

 

Noel Gordon as Meg Richardson

 

 

CROSSROADS: A SHORT HISTORY

 

There has been a hotel on this site since November 1964, when glamorous widow, Meg Richardson, first opened the doors to the motorway hotel (a new innovation) which she built with money from her husband’s will. For 17 years Meg – who later became Mrs. Hugh Mortimer – was the fulcrum in the trials and tribulations of Crossroads. Co-proprietors came and went but Meg was immovable. That is until one fateful night – the eve of bonfire night in 1981 – 2hen the motel burned to the ground (for the second time) and Meg was feared to have perished in the flames. Happily for her family (remaining child Jill Harvey, and grandchild, Sarah Jane) Meg survived to find a new life and happiness in Australia. Her legacy was her share of ownership of the hotel, which she left to Jill.

 

For seven years, Jill remained at the helm. Other shareholders came and went but Jill remained constant. Adam Chance – a smooth-talking charlatan – became Jill’s third husband, but the marriage was doomed and the separation acrimonious. Chance bullied Jill into agreeing a deal whereby she would sell her shares to a Japanese consortium, enabling him to gain ownership of the hotel. But in a last minute change of heart, Jill eloped with her lover, John Maddingham, to the West Country – leaving Crossroads to an uncertain fate.

It was the beginning of 1988 and the end of an era.

 

The end of one era perhaps, but what if we were to revisit King’s Oak and its famous landmark?

What would we find there today – 12 years on…

 

Tony Adams as Adam Chance

Jane Rossington as Jill Harvey

 

Their first wedding in 1983

 

 

CROSSROADS – AN INSTITUTION IS RE-BORN

 

The end of the boom-bust 80’s saw a recession in the service and tourist industries and a floundering Crossroads hotel was passed into the hands of the Receivers. In 1989, the Rameses Leisure Group – a pub and travel lodge chain, with headquarters in Jersey, acquired the premises. Thereafter an uneventful decade in the hotel’s history as it slipped into obscurity.

 

But the last 18 months have seen a dramatic change in the hotel’s fortunes. In 1998, when Rameses was fighting off creditors and a hostile take-over bid, and independent company, Hawk Properties, gazumped all other offers and purchased the premises and site for £4.5 million. For twelve months the hotel was closed for an extensive rebuild. When it re-opened, it had an entirely new staff and a new ethos: to return to the family-run ambience of its earlier incarnartion. Crossroads was not destined to be one of several: its very uniqueness was its appeal.

 

For the local people of King’s Oak, and long-standing regular guests, this was a welcome relief – many recalled the old days when staff remembered your name and your peccadilloes. But few amongst them ever realised that the motivation behind this reincarnation came from a very unlikely source, whose associations with the hotel were much more than professional.

 

Hawk Properties Ltd id the privately owned “shell” company created by one, Conrad Hawkins, a 38 year old entrepreneur, with an estimated fortune of £13 million. In just five years, Hawkins – a former bell boy at the Royal Garden Hotel in Solihull – built up the largest, independent bar and restaurant group in the North of England. For Conrad, the cardinal rule of business is to learn from the bottom up. His first taste of the hotel trade was helping his late Uncle Benny work the pumps at the Crossroads garage on weekends. The garage is no more but Benny’s memory – and his dream to one day have a stake in the place he called a second home – was the catalyst for Conrad’s surprise (some might say risky) investment. It was after all Benny’s bequest of £500, which helped secure the loan for Conrad’s first franchise.

 

But it’s not only sentiment which lies behind Conrad Hawkins’ acquisition of Crossroads. Its proximity to Birmingham and the city’s NEC, and location equidistant between the country’s foremost tourist attraction – Stratford-upon-Avon – and Birmingham City Airport, make it the perfect haven for holiday makers and businessmen alike. Hence the design of the hotel to reflect individulatity and character for the culture-vultures, families and honeymooners, whilst catering for the exacting standards of the business commuter in providing state of the art conference facilities and a luxury leisure centre. All this and stunning views of the Malvern Hills.

 

Conrad Hawkins is a private man and maintains a – some would say obsessively – low profile. No more than a handful of key people know who is behind Hawk Properties. His reasons for this are as complex as the turbulent history of the hotel itself. One thing is for sure – his identity will not remain a secret for very much longer.

 

The Crossroads Motel in 1988

Penns Hall Hotel

 

 

CROSSROADS – LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

 

The new hotel has been open for just 13 months and has already garnered plaudits from the Birmingham City Tourist Board, the RAC and AA guides. The Midlands Business Consortium has just voted it Small Business Hotel of the Year. True, it is not architecturally distinguished, but its bywords are comfort, convenience and courtesy.

 

Welcome to RECEPTION, where fresh flowers daily and cosy armchairs contribute to the atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility. Here is the front desk, the Concierge’s station and access to the Guest accommodation.

Behind Reception is the nerve centre of the hotel: the MANAGER’S OFFICE and PRIVATE QUARTERS:  A modest studio flat.

 

To your left is the STRATFORD LOUNGE & BAR. The atmosphere here is warm, intimate and stylish.

 

To your right is the ARDEN RESTAURANT: international haute cuisine in elegant, neo-Tudor surroundings.

 

Behind the restaurant is the KITCHEN: a buzzing hive of activity 20 hours a day.

Beyond the restaurant is the newly expanded Leisure Centre, including the Hermia Health Spa annexe. Here, a sauna (unseen), fully equipped GYM with a wide range of  Nautilus machines and a BEAUTY SALON are open to residents and non-residents on a day membership basis. BENNY’S CAFÉ (occasional set) – an informal coffee shop serving light, health-conscious snacks, is popular with guests and locals alike. In the last six months, an outdoor, clay tennis court and indoor squash court (unseen)

 

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Reception: Fresh fruit and cosy

armchairs contribute to the air

of relaxation and tranquility