National newspaper advertisements were placed in 1951 by The Peter Rabbit Hotel in St Anne’s describing itself as a small first-class hotel for children only. The childen’s hotel was the brainchild of Mary Hamilton, a nurse, and Mary Wilkinson, a teacher, who had found it difficult to find care for their offspring during working hours. Their daughters became the first residents at The Peter Rabbit Hotel. The advertisement stated that the daily rates were 1½ guineas for babies and 1 guinea for children over 2 years. Fees increased at Christmas to 2½ and 2 guineas respectively. Would your children like to be sent off to a hotel for Christmas? Permanent residence cost £260 per annum – children could stay for a whole year!
The St Anne’s Hotel had rooms for a maximum of fifteen guests at a time. Girls between two weeks and twelve years were accepted, but the upper age limit for boys was seven years, ‘boys being more of a handful for the staff of two nursery-maids and two domestics’. Each room was filled with toys and equipped with a toy telephone. The rooms were decorated and named after characters in Beatrix Potter books: Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and the Flopsy Bunnies. Pollyanna, the specially-built nine-seater pram, was used to transport children back and forth to the hotel’s private beach. This was once photographed at Euston Station London full of young guests bound for St Anne’s.
In early 1952 newspaper advertisements showed a change of name to the Teddy Bear Hotel – perhaps due to infringement of Peter Rabbit copyrights? Advertisements for the newly-branded hotel continued until 1953 and then seemed to stop.
In the photograph at the top of this feature, the residents of the Hotel go for a ride in their giant pram Pollyanna on the St. Anne’s beach. The picture shows 12 children in the nine seater pram! Thr ages of the childfren range from 16 months to 8 years and they are being pushed by Elizabeth Hamilton (9) daughter of the Hotel matron. It was taken in August 1951. The photograph below is from a 1951 newspaper.