Sunday, May 09, 2010

Back In Time: The Jolly Roger

The history of the resorts holds an enduring fascination. It is a history that has never been written. I'm starting.

I spent an hour and a half with Jan from the Jolly Roger the other evening. I could have spent several more hours, and may yet do. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Jolly Roger has an iconic status in the history of Alcúdia's tourism. It was the second British-run bar to emerge in the early 1970s, and has survived up to today under the same ownership.

The story of the Jolly Roger is astonishing. But even richer than the tales that Jan can relate are the documents and photos. Some of the latter are appearing on the bar's Facebook page; I recommend that you take a look. The photographic history is highly evocative, as are the documents. But these documents are arguably even more revealing. For an historian by degree, as I am, they are a goldmine. Jan lent me a couple that I have photographed. She said I could keep them. I won't. They all need to be preserved - together.

Among these documents are clippings from old newspapers, including the "Bulletin". One of them dates from June 1975. It is a report on the problems at Bellevue, or the Bellavista Residential Complex as it was being called then. These problems surrounded financing and bankruptcies. The headline announced that the "Alcúdia complex could face 168 million pesetas auction". (168 million pesetas would have been one million pounds; an exchange rate of 168 pesetas to the pound was established after the pound's devaluation in 1967.)

The financial and ownership wrangles at Bellevue were to continue for years. It was not until 1983 that the complex became properly operational. 1983 was a highly significant year for the Jolly Roger - in different ways.

Another clipping comes from "The Sunday Mirror". There is also a letter from the journalist, David Duffy, who wrote the article in the paper. Both were to do with an investigation that the paper was conducting into the sale of villas and provision of utilities to villas in the area by the Jolly Roger. These villas, close to the Lago Menor and to what was originally the Hotel Lago Menor (now the Lagomonte), had, in the main, been acquired as retirement homes by British pensioners, such as the five thousand pound "bungalow" owned by octogenarians Harry and Alice Spring who spent their days at the house but their nights at "an apartment some way from the estate", lent to them as it had water and lighting.

What one has here is not just a historical record of one bar, not just of the early days of Alcúdia tourism but also background into the whole phenomenon of home ownership in Mallorca, of the move to the dream home in the sun. The story of the Jolly Roger is set to appear in the newspaper thing that is due to come out this month. It will deal with the bar, but the story, and I had not expected it, is far wider than just the bar alone. Fascinating.

And as if to reinforce the history of the Jolly Roger, while I was talking to Jan a lady came in with her son. The son had swum in the bar's swimming-pool as a boy. The lady had first been a customer in ... 1974.

Any comments to please.

3 comments: said...

We used to go to this bar when our children wer little and Jan's husband and her girls had just set up there. We went back several times but was sad to hear her husband had died on one visit and we are in deep admiration of her and the girls for keeping it going. We went back for our 25th Wedding anniversary in 1988 and saw her and her daughters still there and was very pleased to see them. We are pensioners now and can't really afford foreign holidays but we have some wonderful memories of our time at the Jolly Roger.

Anonymous said...

My mummy used to holiday in Alcudia when she was a child in the 80's. All she can remember is the Alcudia Express and this place! She loved the crocodile races in the pool in the evenings and playing pool while her folks relaxed with a beer. She would have been 7yrs or 8yrs old. She's happy it's still going...question is, do they still have the monkey outside?

andrew said...

The monkey's not there any more, Isabella. Pretty much everything else is though. Jan has retired. Julie and Joy run the place.